World Premiere Clip: “Spring Day” – Karen K & the Jitterbugs

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What is there to do when it just keeps snowing? Write a song about Spring, of course!

Even though I’ve been living on the West Coast for the past few years, I am still not completely adjusted to sunny, warm winters (though I’m not complaining either). When I hear from friends and family on the other coast that it is snowing AGAIN, I feel as though I am on another planet. As a former snow bunny, I can sympathize, though I do miss the beauty of the falling snow and monster-sized snowflakes.

Karen Kalafatas of Karen K & the Jitterbugs has a different take on the allure of a freshly painted powedery landscape, especially after being stuck inside for the last 4 months. But her spirits are up and her creative juices are flowing!

Today’s audio premiere, “Spring Day,” is an anti-snow, pro-sun anthem eager to welcome Spring and hang outside with a cool glass of ANYTHING!

Stay tuned for the video for “Spring Day,” though Kalafatas explains that they will need a few Springtime shots for that.  Says Kalafatas, “So basically August.  August is when we’ll get the Spring shots.”

“Spring Day” is available at iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon


Karen K (aka Karen Kalafatas) is a writer and performer along with her band Karen K & the Jitterbugs.  A winner of a Parents Choice Award and “Best Kid Vid of 2014″ for her YouTube Smash hit (I Woke Up in a) Fire Truck, Karen and her Jitterbugs tour the country performing her original songs and delivering a rockin’, energized, theatrical show to kids ages zero to one-hundred-and-three.  They’ve been seen on CBS-New York and in the Boston Globe,, the New York Times and New York Magazine.  Karen is also the founder and producer of Kids Really Rock family music festival at the Lawn on D in Boston.

For more information, visit

Check this out: Cat Doorman – Calling All the Kids to the Yard!

Cat Doorman (aka Julianna Bright) is back with a new EP! Calling All the Kids to the Yard! takes a quick little jaunt through a garden of fresh, rockin’ songs. Making a perfect companion to the ethereal Songbook, Bright’s kindie music debut, Calling All the Kids to the Yard! kicks things up a notch with 4 sprightly tracks eager to make you dance.

One of the many things I admire about Bright’s music is the cohesion between the vocals and instrumentation. Accents such as the piano or hand claps are perfectly timed and in sync with the meter of the song, as well as Bright’s bouncy vocals. There is clearly a lot of thought put into the production of her work!

Each track, infused with beautiful themes such as peace, love, kindness, and wonder, are filtered through inspiring words that are refreshing to hear.

“Drink this cup” picks up where “Peaceful” (from Songbook) left off. “Peaceful” ends with the lyrics “This life we choose, it fills our cup/ This life we choose, it gives so much,and “Drink this Cup” opens with Bright gratefully declaring that it’s time to “Drink this loving cup” and be nourished by the beauty life has to offer. “Wake Up” encourages kids to move through their day with kindness and an open heart while the title track encourages community building and care for the environment. “All the Pretty Little Horses,” is taken from a saunter to a canter as it urges you to “Kick up your hooves” and shake your tail, which you certainly will. Bright’s playful take on this classic showcases her hip style and dynamic range as a musician.

I love Bright’s style and am really enjoying the upbeat swing of this EP. Calling All the Kids to the Yard! is the first in a series of 4 seasonal EPs that are set to release over the course of this year. You can purchase this digital only release through the Bandcamp widget below.

For more Cat Doorman, check out Bright’s recent DJ spot on the Hilltown Family Variety Show, and her interview with the The Oregonian.

Audio Premiere: Jelly Beans! by Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips


Easter is just around the corner and you know what that means? Jelly beans! Oh man, do I love jelly beans. It’s probably bordering on obsession. If I could have jelly beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner I would! And don’t even get me started on the sneaky and enticing ways Jelly Belly draws you in with their special recipes. But, I’m a grown-up, and I suppose I know better….sometimes.

On the other hand, listening to a song about jelly beans is healthy for everyone, which is why I am very pleased to premiere the latest single by Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips.

Rollin’ in with a candy-bluesy-’lectro-pop ’n’ rock anthem, MCJ and his sensational sidekick Miss Ava Flava save you a trip to the candy store with this delicious, sugar-coated jive for your eardrums.

Flavor with a lotta soul.
Nothing like the POW
from some candy coated rock ’n’ roll.

So yummy yumaliscious
in my tummy-tum-tummy.
Kawaii — so cute, 
like a bunny-bun-bunny. 
If jelly beans were canines,
they’d be a pug-puppy. 

‘Nuff said…

“Jelly Beans!” can be purchased through the Bandcamp widget below.

Exploring Kids’ Music Album Art: The Perfect Quirk by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo


Secret Agent 23 SkidooThe Perfect Quirk

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s 2014 Grammy nominated release rode in on the wave of encouraging kids to be themselves. This empowering proposition has been the underpinning of Skidoo’s genesis as a kids’ musician.

Throughout his career, Skidoo has been a staunch advocate of embracing your quirks, standing proud and tall and being who you are. His expressive style of encouraging kids to show their natural, bold colors is complemented well with the tonal choices made by North Carolina-based artist, John Hairston, Jr

Hairston, jr. is a fine art painter who often captures the juxtaposition of beauty and oddity. The images that appear throughout The Perfect Quirk packaging are unique for a kids’ album cover, and together with the music make a cohesive package. Skidoo is a kid hop artist and pays respect to the hip hop genre by including elements such as his graffiti tagged name, and the third eye of the boy on the back cover.

Emily carried this CD around for weeks completely fascinated by the metamorphic characteristics of the kids, especially the boy with the third eye. She was intrigued and wanted to know what the reasoning was behind the choices made for the cover. Seeing the peculiar images piqued her curiosity and imagination over and over again which ultimately enhance her listening experience.


“The kids and parents all represent a mutation towards higher consciousness. The boy is spiritual, with a 3rd eye representing higher awareness. The girl has antennae, representing alien or intergalactic consciousness. The mother is multi-armed, riffing off Hindu deities and the Dad has angel wings. The race is supposed to be a futuristic mix of all races, when racism has been put down and everybody gets with everybody. The skin color, hairstyle, face and eye shape, etc.” Continue reading

Guest re-post: Vered Benhorin – Using Music to Connect with Your Baby + Support for her new album!

161x225xVered_MusicWithChild.jpg.pagespeed.ic.y3y3Wej2j5This post was originally published on Nov 1, 2012. I am reposting to support Vered’s new Kickstarter campaign for her next album, Hello My Baby.

To learn more about her next album, and support the project follow this linkThere are only 6 days left as of Thursday, February 26, 2015!  

Read more about Baby In Tune at the official site where you can find out how to attend a workshop, and watch videos of parents and Vered in action.

Vered Benhorin is a musician and music therapist living in Brooklyn. She runs groups with parents and babies on bonding through music. Her album, Good Morning My Love, won the Gold Parents’ Choice Award and the Gold NAPPA award. Vered’s biggest inspiration and fellow songwriters are her two sons, ages 4 and 1. Learn more about Vered at Baby In Tune.

Below Vered shares inspiration and experiences that contribute to her art. You will also find some excellent techniques which you can easily put into play. As you follow these steps, while listening to Vered’s beautiful voice, you will immediately feel and see how it fosters a tender loving bond between you and your little bundle of joy.

Some people feel completely comfortable singing with their babies from day one. I wasn’t one of those people. I remember watching my husband sing tenderly to our first son while cradling him in the middle of the night. It was the idyllic picture I had always imagined I would make with my baby.

As a musician and music therapist, I was sure singing with my son would come naturally. Instead, I found myself constantly nursing, pumping and bottle feeding. I was sleep deprived, in shock and uncomfortable. It took me quite a while to let music seep into my routine with my baby, but when it did, it felt like the sun had finally shone through the clouds.

baby1I realized that when I sang with my son, when we danced and made music together, I felt particularly connected with him. He often smiled at the sound of a song, which in turn made me want to sing more. Eventually, Icombined my professional training and my experience as a parent and began leading groups to help other parents and their babies connect through music.

Here are some of the tips that I have found to be especially helpful to parents who would like to incorporate music but don’t know how or why. Some, like me, just need a little reminder about the power of music and a little nudge to help the inner music flow out.

1. Use music to establish your daily routine.
Typically, the toughest challenge for the parents in my groups is creating a routine for their babies. During these rough patches, it is helpful to keep in mind that babies are much like dogs; they are trainable and crave routine. Similar to Pavlov’s dogs, babies respond well to having cues, especially auditory ones, that signal the next event. Try singing or putting on a song to let your baby know that it is morning, bath time, nap time or bedtime. If you are consistent with your use of these songs, your baby will come to associate a song with the action that follows and will be more prepared for the next step in the daily routine. For example, you may find that eventually your baby will start to rub her eyes at the first sound of the familiar lullaby.

2. Repeat! Repeat!
I am sure you have already heard that consistency with your baby is key to giving him a sense of security. Singing is an effective way to use repetition because songs organize words and melody in a way that is easily replicated and familiar. This is different from talking, which also involves song-like inflections but usually does not use the same type of repetition. If you sing the same songs over and over with your baby each day, you will probably start to see delight in his or her eyes at the start of these songs. In the baby’s world where everything is new, a well-known song sung by a caretaker gives a sense of control and familiarity.

3. Rhythm is your friend.
Babies love rhythm. From the womb they have been moving around to the rhythm of their mother’s steps and hearing her heart beat. Rhythm is a great tool to use for play, and even more so, for soothing. You may have had nights of trying to soothe your baby back to sleep by rocking in the rocking chair, bouncing on the ball or bouncing the baby in your arms. Adding music to the rhythm of your rocking or bouncing will not only lull your baby to sleep more quickly but also will make this process much more interesting for you. Imagine it: You are bouncing, hoping the baby will fall asleep soon and thinking about the sleep you would rather be having. If you add in a song and move to the rhythm, you are not only distracting yourself from these thoughts, but you also may even enjoy these moments with your baby. More important, you will be increasing your stamina for rocking, and by the time you have sung the song twice, your baby might be asleep.

4. Incorporate music with hand gestures and body movements.
There is a reason that songs such as the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” are timeless hits. For babies, the hand gestures that accompany these songs are like puppet shows. Babies begin to associate gestures with the melody and anticipate them. Try incorporating singing, movement and touch when playing with your baby. You will notice your baby’s delight at being moved around.

5. Why say it when you can sing it?
Babies have been shown to respond more to the sound of their mother singing than to the sound of her talking. Although researchers are not sure why, they speculate that it may be because singing carries more emotion. Most of us have heard that it is important to talk to babies throughout the day to help them build their language skills. Although you might feel awkward narrating your every move, you might find creating simple songs about what you’re doing to be more enjoyable for both you and your baby. It doesn’t take much thought to begin improvising; just be goofy and sing what comes to the top of your head. If you find that you’re having a hard time opening the musical floodgates, find a music group for you and your baby. Perhaps all you need is a little coaxing.

The most important point is that your baby does not care if you can’t carry a tune. He or she just wants to sing with you, smile, have fun,feel that you are enjoying yourself, too, and feel secure. Just like the baby pictures that your baby will go back to as a grown-up, your baby will also remember the songs that you sang together because they will have had a joyous, bonding and soothing effect. And most likely, someday your baby will sing these songs to his or her baby as well.

Music + Art: Edie Carey and Sarah Sample – ‘Til The Morning: Lullabies and Songs of Comfort


Edie Carey & Sarah Sample – Til’ The Morning: Lullabies & Songs of Comfort.

Edie Carey & Sarah Sample join forces to bring this gorgeous lullaby album to life. Their hauntingly beautiful harmonies create a soothing atmosphere for new parents and their little ones. The duo’s hushed lullabies are full of emotion that will swell your heart. Each song delivers a special kind of comfort and poignancy that matches the deeply tender expression between the maternal figure and her infant.

The alluring illustration was done by Caitlin Connolly, a Utah-based artist who explores the human experience, with an emphasis on women in different life phases. In this piece, Connolly exhibits thoughtful detail and subtle textures using curves and lines that, together, create an intimate scene and an intensity that is palpable.

In her personal statement, Connolly expresses:

“My work often explores the feminine experience as I attempt to understand myself and all women more fully and view them the way I see them – powerful yet flawed.”

When I first saw the album art, I was flooded with memories, recalling the potent range of emotions I felt as a new mother. However, after hearing Carey and Sample share their raw, personal experiences, I was compelled to look even further at Connolly’s design.

Sample explains,

“I have known Caitlin Connolly for many years and watched her art and drawings evolve over time. She seems to have settled into her artistry in a deep and beautiful way, often drawing women and life phases they are in. I had seen one of her drawings entitled “A Piece of Me” and was immediately struck by the beauty of the image of mother and baby.

The mother in the drawing is wearing a dress that is fractured into many small pieces. The baby is wrapped in her dress, and the mother is tenderly looking down into the face of her child. I identified with the mother in the drawing. I was living in Seattle when I had my first child six years ago, and the transition required to become a parent was rough to say the least. I was enamored with my beautiful baby, and yet I felt like I was falling apart at the same time. Caitlin’s image perfectly captured the fracturing I felt in my own life as a mother, and yet at the same time showed a mother’s love.’


Photograph by Ryan Tanner

Carey continues,

“When Sarah showed me Caitlin’s incredible work, I was immediately taken with it, and it just felt like the perfect image for the soothing, healing, intimate feeling of the record. The mother’s fractured dress spoke to me as it did Sarah of all the difficulty of breaking down the “you” you once were to remake yourself into a mother. It also reminded me of the struggle my husband and I went through to become parents. Infertility has been – and continues to be – the most difficult experience I’ve ever had – and while it brought with it feelings of being broken, it also has made me more grateful than I might have been otherwise to finally have gotten the chance to be a mother – and all the beauty and struggle that comes with that privilege. Caitlin seems to just understand and convey all the complexity of those feelings in her work.


To read other posts related to the exploration kids’ album art, read the feature on Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s Grammy nominated album The Perfect Quirk.

Valentine’s Day Musing with Lisa Mathews of Milkshake


Lisa Mathews, of the kindie band Milkshake, was recently a guest DJ on the Hilltown Family Variety Show, an incredible online network that supports education through community engagement, where she curated a playlist centered around love and social consciousness. Lisa’s music pics featured kindie such as Brady Rymer, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and Recess Monkey, as well as adult artists such as The Beatles, Adele, and Sly and the Family Stone. She even features a song written in 1930 from the movie The Moderns, which is one of Emily’s  favorites in the bunch!

Altogether, the podcast signifies that love is multi-faceted, and the way we give and receive it impacts how we relate to one another. I really enjoyed listening to Lisa and thought it would be great to hear more of her thoughts on the topic of love in light of the upcoming holiday.

In today’s guest post, Lisa writes about how much she loves Valentine’s Day, creating love songs with her previous band Love Riot, and watching her teenage daughter experience love firsthand. Lisa’s thoughts really resonated with me as a mother and a music lover. I know that Emily will have her own experiences with love in the same way as Lisa’s daughter. But, as Lisa says below, “maybe she’ll write a song about it, and listen to other songs that will help her through.” And I plan to be there listening to the music with her.

Milkshake will be performing a Valentine’s Spectacular show in Maryland with all kinds of fun activities and sweet treats. Plus, if you aren’t familiar with Milkshake’s music, I encourage you to listen to the links below, and check out the band’s music page. Lisa’s voice is bee-u-tee-ful!

Details about the show which will benefit Arts On Stage, a nonprofit that brings arts performances into schools, can be found following the post.



I love Valentine’s Day. I love all holidays, but having one more reason to tell someone “I Love You” sounds good to me. I love the heart-shaped boxes. And even though I can’t eat chocolate (woe is me), I love gazing at the different chocolate pieces and wondering what’s inside them, how they taste. I love the idea behind all those sweetheart candies, too. I pick out my favorites like “Sweet Love,” “My Love,” “Hug Me” and “Only You.” Nowadays, the candies say things like “Text Me” or “Tweet Me.” Love’s gone digital, for sure.

But perhaps what I love most of all are the love songs. They remind me that love itself is so multi-dimensional. Happy love songs, sad love songs, songs of longing, songs of leaving. Before Milkshake, Mikel and I fronted a band for adults called Love Riot and we wrote nothing but love songs. It was amazing to me how we never seemed to run out of ideas. Maybe it wasn’t so unlimited as the topics we’ve discovered writing songs for kids, but emotionally, there was probably more to our love songs. The songs reflected what I or my friends were going through, and perhaps being in love is more of an adult thing. I wrote “I Love You” as a lullaby for my daughter, but that’s certainly different from romantic love. Now, she’s a beautiful 14-year-old and I see hints of romantic pining. I don’t look forward to her first breakup, which could be a painful thing. But maybe she’ll write a song about it, and listen to other songs that will help her through.

So how will Milkshake – the band that celebrates most holidays with a big show somewhere – celebrate Valentine’s861-eventpage-milkshake_500 Day when the majority of our songs deal with imagination and play and doing the right thing? Well, we did record “I Love You” and “Enemies” for our Great Day CD, which skews a bit older, listener-wise. And we added a Milkshake version of the classic “Tiptoe Thru the Tulips” on our latest Got a Minute CD. But that’s about it in the love song department. We’ll do all three for sure, tossing rose petals at our little friends. Moo will pass out chocolate kisses and candy hearts, and we’ll all be giving out unlimited hugs after the show.

People can donate their unloved instruments to Music4More, who will find them loving homes at schools and communities. There will be face-painted hearts and cherubs for anyone who wants them, and our friends at Macaroni Kids will make paper valentines with the concert-goers. So while there might not be a lot of love songs, there will certainly be a lot of love. The concert benefits Arts On Stage, a non-profit that lovingly creates art performances for schools. Sounds like a great way to start my Valentine’s Day. After saying “I Love You” to my husband, daughter, cat, dog and life first, of course.

“I Love You” (YouTube)


“Tiptoe Thru the Tulips”