View This: “Busy” – The Not-Its

kidQuakeCoverSeattle band, The Not-Its, just released a video for “Busy,” a track from their upcoming album, Kidquake!, available February 5th, 2013.

“Busy” is a rockin’ Ska jam that moves just as fast as life with kids might feel sometimes. There’s some fantastic energy here and the video includes some awesome effects, particularly when the lyrics “we need to just slow down” come up. It’s a mantra I should probably say to myself more often!

It’s a great song, by a great band, with a great message.

Interview: Chat with Tim Kubart of Tim and the Space Cadets

Tim-Kubart-High-ResTim and the Space Cadets are widely known for their highly acclaimed song, “Superhero.” The song first appeared on their 5-song EP, The Greatest Party Ever, and will reappear on their full-length debut, Anthems for Adventure, which is set for release on January 29.

Tim Kubart, frontman for Tim and the Space Cadets, made a departure from his role as a member of the popular kindie band, The Jimmies, to produce his own brand of music. Anthems for Adventure is an exploration of childhood memories and exciting adventures.

Tim’s energy and charisma bring a sense of excitement throughout the album. Set to mostly catchy power-pop chords (one song is set to the sounds of Motown), which will no doubt induce involuntary hand-clapping, each song has a meaningful story to tell.

I had a chance to hear Tim’s thoughts on making music for families, LOST (the TV show) as a 2nd Grade play, the Goonies and Jim Henson.

Also, audio clips from the album are available at the band’s official site (make sure to click on the “Music” link at the top of the page).

Kids Can Groove: How did you find your way into kids music?

Tim Kubart: I’ve always worked with kids. I was a babysitter in high school. In college, I was in a band called Schroeder. During my senior year, I took a class in which volunteering was required. I chose to volunteer at a homeless shelter for women and children, where I ended up working in the nursery, playing with kids and feeding kids. One day, I showed up after a Schroeder rehearsal, and I had my guitar on my back. The director of the shelter saw it and asked me if I could play for the kids. So, the next week, I learned some kids’ songs and wrote one of my own, and put on a little concert. It only took, like, 2 minutes for me to realize that was what I wanted to be doing with my life.

KCG: That’s a nice way to start a music career. Did you think about being a teacher at any point?

TK: I always thought I was going to be a teacher while I was growing up. Right after college, I was the director of a middle school and high school marching band for 3 years. My first music video, “Superhero,” was actually completely paid for by 1 whole year of being a marching band director. And right now, I have my own educational program called Little Rock-Its, out of Brooklyn, teaching music to kids. So I’m working as both a teacher and a performer right now, and I love doing both, and want to continue doing both.

KCG: Are you still active with the homeless shelter or any other charitable organizations?

TK: I haven’t come back to the homeless shelter, but I’ve been playing at hospitals and for a few charities. I’ve mostly worked with Ronald McDonald House.

KCG: That’s great! Music can be very healing.

TK: Oh, yeah. For the kids in the hospitals and for their siblings, too. A lot of the time, they’ve been uprooted from their hometowns, so they’re all dealing with a lot.

KCG: You were a theater major at Fordham, right?

TK: Yes! I thought that I was going to be doing Shakespeare after I graduated from Fordham. I’ve also been doing bit parts on TV, commercials, and voice over jobs since I was 14 years old. And I still love Shakespeare.

KCG: So you teach music, write songs and perform. Is there something that you prefer more?

TK: If I had to pick one thing, performing is my favorite. I love to teach and I have a great songwriting partner, but I feel like performing is my greatest strength.

KCG: You have a lot of charisma and it comes across in your songs and videos which is going to bode very well with a younger audience. Kids pick up on good energy so the more charismatic and energetic you are, the more engaged they become.

TK: Thanks so much! I just get really excited about playing music up on stage. When my friends first heard I was becoming a kids’ musician they said, “Oh, that makes sense.” I’ve always been pretty silly about performing, and I think it’s in my blood. My dad’s dad was in a group called the Harmonica Rascals on the vaudeville circuit. I recently saw a clip of them performing in an old black and white film called One in a Million, and it was thrilling – I’d never met him, and it was the first time I’d ever seen him perform, even though I’d heard stories from my dad. It hit me hard when I watched, the commitment to both the quality of the comedy and the quality of the musicianship. That’s something I always strive for when putting together projects and shows – I guess that’s in my blood too.

KCG: What do you find most exciting about Kindie/Famlily music?

TK: I think the best thing about making family music, that maybe isn’t that obvious, is that there are really no rules. It’s very freeing. If something moves me, that’s what I want to write about, and I want to do it in a way that everyone, not just kids, can relate to and understand.

KCG: Do you listen to or are you inspired by any kindie artists?

TK: I listen to Justin Roberts the most right now.

KCG: Any particular album?

TK: I would say Pop Fly is my favorite.

KCG: Did you learn alot about Kindie/Famliy music by being in The Jimmies?

TK: Oh, very much. I saw and was able to be a part of how much work goes into a project like that, and I’m grateful to Ashley for the experience. And the music videos – I knew I wanted my music videos to be pretty high caliber, because I was coming from those Jimmies videos we made, which are spectacular.

KCG: I think you’ve done that with both of the videos you’ve released so far. I particularly like how you translate the stories from your songs into your videos. They are like mini-movies, in a sense.

TK: Oh, thanks. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t copying The Jimmies. I had a different idea and approach, especially to the videos. I wanted to be telling stories about kids because that’s what I do in my songs. I wanted [the videos] to be like little mini-movies about kids.

KCG: How did the idea for LOST come up when making the video “2nd Grade Show?” The way the song was translated in the video was pretty unexpected and surprising. And, the LOST references are subtle enough where fans who are not familiar with LOST can still enjoy watching a kid playing a tree in a school play.

TK: That’s exactly what I wanted – it was important for the references to be subtle enough that someone who hasn’t seen LOST could enjoy the video, and someone who has seen it to maybe have to watch a few times to realize it’s everywhere. There are obvious scenes, like Locke’s orange smile and Hurley driving the van, and then there are a few Easter eggs thrown in – there’s a stuffed polar bear sitting on set, and you can see our tree kid wrapped in Christmas lights behind Penny’s phone call. It was so much fun to put together. While I was writing [“2nd Grade Show”], I immediately knew it was going to be a video. School plays were such a big part of my life, and I wanted to celebrate that. But we could have made the play any play – it could have been The Three Little Pigs, but I love LOST so much, and it’s always more fun and exciting, both for the artists and the audience, to do something unexpected. The challenge was balancing the LOST references with the story of the kid playing a tree, because ultimately, the video is all about the kid. I love telling stories about kids, and I think kids love seeing stories about themselves. Anthony Lumia was a great tree, and the kind of kid everyone can relate to. He’s awesome. And casting was so much fun – imagine re-casting your favorite TV show, especially one as diverse and recognizable as LOST, with a bunch of adorable little kids. Casting Anthony was both the easiest and most difficult decision, actually. He was such a perfect tree and a great little Hurley. But, in the end, we knew he had to be our tree.

KCG: Do you feel that there’s more opportunity for growth and development as an artist and performer within the family music industry?

TK: Oh, yeah. I mean, I like to dream big, just like anyone else. When I started Tim and The Space Cadets, the first thing that I did, even before I wrote a song, was come up with a concept for a television show, based on the television shows that meant the most to me growing up. We wrote up a treatment for the pilot and the series, and then I took a step back and thought “Ok, well how am I gonna get there?” So, that’s what I’ve been working on.

KCG: Are you still planning on producing the TV show?

TK: Yeah, that’s still the goal. That’s actually why [the band] is called Tim and the Space Cadets. The original concept was called Tim in Space and took place on a space ship, but that evolved into a story about me living with 3 alien puppets who crash land in my backyard, so the name also evolved. The first album was actually supposed to be not just songs, but a story format with me and the voices of the alien characters, but then I realized I should make a music album as a foundation for the project. It was just kind of lucky that Tim and the Space Cadets sounded good as a band name, too. So I’ve been working on the band and music aspect of Tim and the Space Cadets for the last few years, adjusting the treatment here and there, writing picture books based on the show, things like that. I plan on making some webisodes and other Space Cadet-related things soon.

KCG: So Tim and the Space Cadets could become a brand?

TK: That’s what I’m trying to do. The television series, the book series, coloring books, more albums. And there’s a definite style to Tim and the Space Cadets that’s coming together.

KCG: Do you think you will proceed with those ideas before making another record?

TK: I don’t think the next thing I am going to do is make the next record. I would like to start writing some more stories, putting together webisodes, and actually introducing those Space Cadet characters. I think that’s the next step for me. We just released a video for our song, “Rainy Days,” which stars Alison Bartlett, whose played Gina from Sesame Street for years. I’m also going to be releasing a DVD of a concert soon, and hopefully 1 or 2 more videos. They will probably be a little different than the ones we’ve already put out; possibly an animated one; possibly one with puppets. We filmed our release show and are going to put that all on a DVD. After that, I think I’ll be ready for another record. I want to call it Alfalfa.

KCG: Like the Little Rascals character or sprouts?

TK: Yeah, like the Little Rascals character. Maybe it’ll be sort of a Little Rascals-themed album, whereas Anthems for Adventure is a little bit Goonies-themed, except [Anthems] has different kinds of characters and different types of adventures. The lyrics at the end of the first track on Anthems for Adventure are “It’s their time up there, but down here it’s our time,” which is dialogue from the scene when the Goonies are down in the well.

KCG: The artwork throughout the album resembles Goonies-like images.Anthems for Adventure Cover

TK: It’s based on this Goonies poster that I love. The Goonies was the first movie I ever saw in theaters. For the album art, we created these five characters, and throughout the booklet, they go on adventures that go along with the songs. So, when you read through the lyrics, you see the songs represented by the characters on the front of the album. If you look close, you can catch the first glimpse of the Space Cadet characters that will eventually be living in my kitchen.

KCG: So is this album personal or is this coming from pop culture references and other things you like?

TK: Oh, it’s very personal. Everything that has influenced me, I allude to here and there. The end of the second song, “Anthems 2,” sounds like “Buddy Holly” from Weezer, which is probably the first pop song that I fell in love with, so that’s why we put that in there. I’m a big nerd and fan of things and so the songs contain my original ideas mixed in with all these other things that have influenced me so much.

KCG: Is there a song on Anthems that resonates with you the most?

TK: Probably “Blackout.” That song is completely based on the blackout of 2003 when the whole eastern seaboard lost power. My whole neighborhood ended up in my backyard and it was one of my favorite summer memories. I’m really happy to bring that story to a song because of how much that night meant to me. “Endless Summer” is also a very personal song. It’s mostly about how when I was a kid, I felt pretty sad at the end of summer when the weather got colder. It’s about other stuff too, but that’s what sparked it.

KCG: I remember growing up, being able to roam free with neighborhood friends and pretend that there were trolls in the field of a park nearby. We pretended that a huge log was a bridge and we couldn’t cross the bridge because there were trolls. Your album brings those memories back in a really cool way.

TK: That is exactly what I was trying to do for adult listeners and for younger listeners. I was trying to encourage them to go out and have those experiences and make those memories.

KCG: Your stories in your songs are well thought out and meaningful.

TK: Thank you so much. Actually, Justin Roberts said to me “Write what moves you and people will respond to that.” So that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do. And, as far as the music goes, this is exactly what i’ve always wanted to make. This is what comes out of me naturally.

KCG: I really like the song “Bumblebee.”

TK: I like that one a lot too! Matt Puckett, my songwriting partner, wrote that one, actually. There are 2 songs that Matt wrote by himself and then sent to me. Matt and I have had many discussions about what a Tim and the Space Cadets song is. If [the songs] are not directly a story, they need to be an allegory for something else. So “Bumblebee” is really about being friends with the unpopular kid.

KCG: Interesting analogy. How do you see that fitting into the theme of adventure?

TK: That’s probably the one that strays the most, but “Bumblebee” is really just about stepping outside of your comfort zone and making friends with someone you wouldn’t expect to be friends with, which I count as an adventure.

KCG: Both you and Matt write the songs?

TK: Matt and I are kind of 50/50 with the songs. Matt wrote 2 of the songs himself and I wrote most of the others, but I don’t consider a song finished until it goes through Matt. He fills in my gaps songwriting-wise, and sometimes I want to convey something from the heart and can’t find the words for it. Matt’s not only great with words, but manages to convey exactly what I’m thinking – we’re often on the same page. For example, [Matt] wrote the bridge to “Big Balloons (The Parade Song),” which I had written the bulk of. His lyrics rounded out the song’s story: basically, “my family and I became our own parade heading back home.” I thought that was beautiful and exactly what the song needed. Musically, Tim and the Space Cadets’ sound comes partly from me, partly from Matt, and partly from the producer, Dominic Fallacaro. I’m mostly an acoustic guitar player chugging along on chords. Matt has great ideas for guitar licks, and Dom fills in whatever the song needs, most of the harmonies, other instruments, things like that.

TATSC-High-Res-3KCG: So it sounds like your effort with the band is very collaborative.

TK: Oh, definitely. The Space Cadets are very important to Tim and the Space Cadets. I love to collaborate. I come from the theater and most of theater is collaboration. Very few directors are their own lighting designers, for example. I love working with other people, letting them use their strengths, watching everything come together.

KCG: Tell me a little bit about Little Rock-Its.

TK: The founders and owners of Frolic! playspace in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, were fans of Tim and the Space Cadets, and, through a mutual friend, approached me about working with them. At the time, my day job was teaching sing-along toddler music classes all around New York City, and I told them I wanted to create music classes for them that both work with their rock & roll-themed play space and the Tim and the Space Cadets brand.

I created a series of classes with original music for kids ages 6 months to 6 years, and recorded a Little Rock-its album. Every week we celebrate a different rock & roll artist. We’ve covered George Harrison, John Lennon, Guns N’ Roses, Paul McCartney, Journey, Tom Petty, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, tons more. Sometimes I have to change lyrics here and there, to either fit with a certain activity or to make sure I’m presenting something that’s appropriate for toddlers. For the younger age groups, it’s sort of a music appreciation and general developmental learning class, and the next level is an introduction to musical concepts and different instruments. It’s still fairly new, and we’re currently developing the next phase – private lessons and an expansion of the program that will take kids into their late teens.

It’s also the branch of Tim and the Space Cadets that handles birthday parties.

KCG: I’ve read that Jim Henson is a major source of inspiration for you. In what way(s) would you say he has he inspired you?

TK: Jim Henson was a big believer in collaboration. He was always very open about how he wouldn’t have accomplished what he did without the people who helped him and believed in him. Even if you’re not familiar with Jim Henson, you can look to Kermit the Frog’s story. Without all of his friends, he’s just a frog with a banjo – that’s me, and all the space cadets are my dogs and bears and chickens and pigs and Weirdos.

KCG: Do you have a favorite muppet?

TK: My favorite Muppet has always been Robin, Kermit’s nephew, and he was played by my favorite Muppeteer, the late Jerry Nelson. I was very lucky and got to attend the tribute for Jerry Nelson at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, NY recently. Everybody was there. It was amazing! I was sitting right behind Dave Goelz, who does Gonzo. It was surreal. Sitting right in front of me, in the front two rows, all these voices I had grown up with, voices I know as well as I know my own. I didn’t even know how to begin to let them know how much they’ve meant to me. It was special.

My favorite children’s television program is still Fraggle Rock. It wasn’t afraid to dig deeper than other kids’ shows. Jerry Nelson played Gobo, the lead Fraggle, and during the tribute, they showed a clip of Gobo saying to Doc, the human character, near the end of the series, “oh, I get it, I’m a part of everything and everything is a part of me.” It’s such an amazing quote, and so beautiful to hear Jerry Nelson, in character, say that at his own memorial. I was so moved.

KCG: So if you were a superhero what would your superpower be?

TK: That’s a really great question. Whenever I’m driving my car over the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan and I see birds flying over Manhattan, I think that must be the coolest thing in the world to be one of those birds.

KCG: What were your musical influences growing up?

TK: I only listened to Weird Al Yankovic from 1st grade through 7th grade. I didn’t even know the songs that he was parodying. I didn’t even know he was parodying anything! I just thought he was writing his own silly songs. By the time I got to middle school and high school, I was quite the punk rocker. And growing up, my family played a lot of the troubadours. Carole King and James Taylor were road trip staples. My dad’s favorite music is James Taylor and anything that sounds like James Taylor, and I got a lot of that from him.

KCG: What is your goal as a kindie musician?

TK: On our Anthems for Adventure album, we explore this whole theme of adventure, and the goal with this album is to inspire people to get outside and make memories that will last forever. The songs are mostly based on memories that myself, my band members, and my co- songwriters have from when we were kids. We were trying to have a rounded, truthful, and useful experience that explores both the positive and not so positive aspects of childhood and life. Our songs are a celebration of all that life has to offer, and I hope that’s the message our listeners take with them.

55th Grammy Nominees for “Best Children’s Album”

The 55th annual Grammy Awards are coming up and the representatives for “Best Children’s Album” are mighty fine indicators of just how much the Children’s Music genre has to offer. Below you will find a list of albums and other goodies from this year’s nominees.

So, take a listen and although you may not be able to vote per se, you can show your support by perhaps purchasing one or two (or more!) of your favorites.

radio jungle cover 12cmykThe Pop Ups – Radio Jungle

The second album from Brooklyn-based duo, The Pop Ups, Radio Jungle brings listeners on a musical adventure filled with dance beats, creative lyrics and educational topics. Listeners will explore constellations, a world created with a box of crayons, counting and even some puppets! The Pop Ups once again infuse their sense of humor and musical talent into a fun set of songs. So take a journey through the wilderness and listen to Radio Jungle through the SoundCloud widget below, along with a video for their wildly popular single, “Box of Crayons.” Radio Jungle is available for download and purchase through the BandCamp widget below, Amazon and iTunes.

“Box of Crayons” [Courtesy of YouTube]


The Okee Dokee BrothersCan You Canoe?

Just as the subtext on the cover says, Can You Canoe? is “A Mississippi River Adventure Album.” Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander made their way down the Mississippi River in a canoe over the course of a month. During that time, they paddled their way from Minnesota to St. Louis, writing songs inspired by the beauty of the natural world around them. With songs about camaraderie, bullfrogs, mosquitos and camping under a blanket of stars, Can You Canoe perfectly illustrates the brothers’ journey down the river. In fact, it could very well prepare you for your own river odyssey, should you be so bold. You can learn more about the Okee Dokee Brothers at their official site, where you can also purchase a CD/DVD combo, which includes the 15-track album and a documentary of the making of the album. Below are a couple of videos, a trailer from the DVD and a widget containing a few audio samples from Can You Canoe?


Bill HarleyHigh Dive

Bill Harley is a master storyteller and certainly no stranger to Grammy nominations, being a two-time Grammy award winner in his own right. And now he’s back with High Dive, a hilarious collection of stories and songs about childhood. Listeners will find Harley emotive, engaging and suspenseful as he spins tales about a maniacal goat, a field trip gone awry, and finding out that perhaps mom is actually right, sometimes. Especially relevant to this time of year is a Valentine’s Day story with inadvertently “monstrous” consequences. High Dive is a hoot that will capture the attention of both kids and adults alike. You can listen to samples and purchase the entire album at Harley’s official site.

JumpinJazz-Kids-CD-Front-CoverJumpin Jazz KidsA Swinging Jungle Tale

A Swinging Jungle Tale is a mix of stories and songs about the adventures of a girl named Claire and her stuffed animal friends. What is impressive about this album is the amount of work the creators put in to make it as interactive as possible. The story aims to incorporate listeners by encouraging them to use their imagination along with Claire, as she travels through the jungle (which also happens to be her Grandfather’s backyard) and meets imaginary friends. The album’s cover art is bright and colorful, while the soundtrack was inspired by world-renowned jazz artists, including the legendary Ella Fitzgerald and improvisational master, Thelonious Monk, to name a few. You can read more about Claire and the making of A Swinging Jungle Tale at the Jumpin Jazz Kids official site.

You can listen to A Swinging Jungle Tale through the widget below. The album and its accompanying storybook are available for purchase through the Jumpin Jazz Kids store, as well as, CDBaby.


Elizabeth MitchellLittle Seed: Songs for Children by Woody Guthrie

Mitchell brings color and life to her re-imagined versions of Woody Guthrie’s earlier recordings. The songs covered on “Little Seed” stem from two of Woody Guthrie’s children’s albums, recorded in 1947, called “Songs to Grow on for Mother and Child” and “Nursery Days.” Like Guthrie, Mitchell is a folk frontrunner and icon in her own right, being the first female children’s artist signed to the Smithsonian Folkways label and certainly one of the most beloved. On Little Seed, Mitchell very easily glides through some complex tongue-twisting lyrics, which happen to remind me of a few Dr. Seuss books, making it even easier to follow along than some of the originals. Mitchell’s voice, as usual, is soothing and clear like a serene lake and refreshing like a cold glass of water on a hot day. You can read my full review of the album here. You can learn more about Little Seed at Mitchell’s official site and view a couple of videos from the album below. Little Seed is available for purchase through Mitchell’s online store, Amazon (CD or MP3) and iTunes.

“Sleep Eye” [Courtesy of YouTube]

“Grassy Grass Grass” [Courtesy of YouTube]

View This: “2nd Grade Show” – Tim and the Space Cadets


Tim and the Space Cadets are back with a video for “2nd Grade Show,” a track from their upcoming full-length debut, Anthems for Adventure, set to release on January 29th, 2013.

“2nd Grade Show,” like its über-catchy predecessor, “Superhero,” is a vibrant pop track with a snappy chorus.  While the video for “Superhero” was very exciting, the production value for “2nd Grade Show” is phenomenal.  I really don’t know what is more awesome; the fact that the song is about a kid owning his part as a tree or the fact that a 2nd grade class is reenacting scenes from the TV show LOST.  I love how the song was translated in such an unexpected way; subtle, but in each case the tree is a striking part of the story.

For non-LOST devotees, no worries, just watching the adorable cast is enough to get you hooked.

[2nd Grade Show – Courtesy of YouTube]

View This: “Superhero” – Tim and the Space Cadets

cupsIt’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…TATSC! Hmmm, that may not have translated as well as it did in my head. Nevertheless, TATSC stands for Tim and the Space Cadets and below is their video for the song “Superhero.”

The video contains all the right elements for a thrilling experience.  Not to mention that the song will prompt immediate dancing the moment you hear it, no matter where you are.

So don your best cape and superhero mask and get ready to fly!

[Courtesy of YouTube]