World UFO Day 2015 – Celebrate with Dino O’ Dell and Zar the Alien!

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Today is World UFO Day and what better way to celebrate than with a bunch of friends and an alien named Zar.

Dino O’ Dell, a Kansas City-based musician, educator and storyteller has a deep and abiding interest in anything to do with space, UFOs, and life on other planets. He is also the author of the book Zar and the Broken Spaceship, which tells the story of a hip, three-eyed alien named Zar who finds himself on Earth after his spaceship crashed down and went kaput. This book is colorful and interactive. The sequence of actions that lead to the success of Zar’s journey back home are wildly Screen-Shot-2014-08-25-at-2.34.52-PM-438x300fun and reminiscent of popular reads such as Press Here and Lovable Furry Old Grover’s Resting Places (a classic), all of which encourage literacy, eye-hand coordination and body awareness. Plus, talking like an alien is just naturally entertaining. O’ Dell even goes ahead and includes an alien-speak glossary at the end. Fizzle Moo!

Kids at home can play along with the book (guided along with colorful illustrations by Uruguayan artist SantiagoGermano), and afterwards they can treat themselves to this fine video in which Zar moves from speaking his native tongue to groovin’ and rhymin’ in English.

Zar and the Broken Spaceship is the first in a planned series of “Zar” books and is available today through Dino O’ Dell’s siteBook BabyReading Reptile.

The single is available for purchase and download through iTunes and CD Baby.

Video: “The Cat Came Back” – Laurie Berkner

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“The Cat Came Back” is one of the classics we’ve listened to from Laurie Berkner since Emily was little. I am thrilled to see Laurie’s new video for it, which was made through YouTube Spaces.

Ok so there’s a cat in it, and it’s cute. But what I also love about this video is Laurie’s charm. Her vibrant personality lights it all up, right along with the mustaches, and the cat ears. It’s just a feel good experience and it’s exactly why Laurie has been such a staple in our home!

Without further ado, from the recently released Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band Collection, here is “The Cat Came Back!”

Want to play along with Laurie? If you are in the New York City area, the next Laurie Berkner’s The Music in Me Teacher Training will be held August 28-31. Learn Laurie’s classroom philosophy and teaching style, 40+ Laurie Berkner songs, and get tools to begin your The Music in Me classes or supplement your current music classes. Learn more or enroll today!

Video: “Bile Them Cabbage” – Red Yarn

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Portland-based artist, Red Yarn (aka Andy Furgeson) made his Kindie debut in 2013 with The Deep Woods. Prior to releasing The Deep Woods, Furgeson spent half a decade researching folklore and American folk music. Ultimately, he drew inspiration from the role animals played within these folk songs and from there he built a whole world featuring animal puppets (endearingly referred to as “critters”) that join him on stage and in videos. The result has been a fabulous production harkening back to Jim Henson’s Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. Needless to say, traveling through the Deep Woods with Red Yarn is quite an experience.

What I have always been drawn to is the magnificent energy of Red Yarn’s music. The rollicking sound always quickens my pulse, as soon as the rhythm gets going, and the community of singers chime in. And then there’s the dancing…Furgeson can whoop it up quite a bit, inspiring anyone to get up and get to stomping, clapping and singing. The latest video for “Bile them Cabbage,” the first track from his forthcoming album Deep Woods Revival (due out June 23, 2015), does just that. It’s a good ole jamboree, and we’re all invited!

The Deep Woods Revival, introduces a whole new anthology of American folk classics adapted from the great American folk music canon, including works collected by John and Alan Lomax, Carl Sandburg and Ruth Crawford Seeger. “Bile them Cabbage” (“bile” is an old-time variant of “boil”), was adapted from the traditional “Bile Them Cabbage Down,” which Red Yarn first discovered in Alan Lomax’s in Folk Songs of North America (1960). Red explains, “Variations of these lyrics about raccoon, possum and rabbit appear in many old American folksongs. They were some of the first animal lyrics I discovered, which piqued my curiosity and set me down this path into the Deep Woods. In fact, Red Yarn‘s first puppet music video was for a song called “Tails,” which incorporated many of the same lyrics and a bit of “Bile Them Cabbage Down.“‘

The video was shot at Furgeson’s house and features his wife Jesse, as well as six expert puppeteers who handle all of Red Yarn’s critter friends. The vibe of the video gives you some good insight into the magic of Red Yarn’s live performances which is typically akin to “a community-building, almost spiritual experience with devoted fans – both adults and children – singing and dancing along.” In “Bile Them Cabbage Down” friends, neighbors, and even a few Kickstarter backers join in the fun.

“In my mind, the video echoes the trajectory of Red Yarn. What started as a pet project with my wife and a few puppets has grown into this larger, community-based movement to preserve old American folksongs. So many people have helped me get to this point, from fellow musicians and puppeteers and visual artists to the sweet families who keep coming to my regular shows. The Deep Woods Revival is real and growing stronger every day!”

“Bile Them Cabbage” was produced by Red Yarn Productions, directed by LA filmmaker and puppeteer Jeff Speetjens (who directed the “Deep Woods” pilot), with Laki Karavias (of Portland-based troupe The Peculiar Tales of the S.S. Bungalow) as director of photography.

Video: “Lighter Than Air” – Recess Monkey + Dads Who Rock! Father’s Day Q&A with Jack Forman

RECESS MONKEY HOT AIR.300Recess Monkey just celebrated the release of their 12th album, Hot Air. Man, talk about prolific! Throughout the band’s kindie music career, there has always been a Beatles-esque quality to their sound, and their admiration for the Fab Four can be seen on older album covers and in album titles (see Animal House and Tabby Road).

Their most recent video for the song “Lighter Than Air” contains elements found in classic Beatles songs á la Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Club Hearts Band (think “A Day in the Life”). The arrangement is filled with lush orchestration and infectious Pop-Rock hooks (there is even some megaphone).. There really is no exception to who will get the most out of this recording, and really the entire album. In terms of their audiences’ ages, I guess you could say the sky’s the limit.

Hot Air is a CD/DVD combo containing 15 audio tracks plus a 40-minute beautifully animated story that follows the path of a young boy named Andrew and his adventures with flight, and a penguin. Listen to and purchase the album through Recess Monkey’s store, or from my affiliate Amazon. Make sure to keep up with Recess Monkey through their Facebook page, Twitter or by subscribing to their newsletter (or make it a Trifecta and hit all three!).

Today’s double feature continues with Jack Forman, chief funny man, bass player and beloved host of The Monkey House, an afternoon radio show featured on Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live (ch. 78), as he joins us for the next Father’s Day Q&A. As expected, Jack’s answers are as bright and entertaining as he is. Below Jack explains why laughter is the fuel that runs his familial engine, gives mad props to his wife Ellen and talks about how they find a parental balance, and shares his plans for Father’s Day (which naturally includes rockin’ out).


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KCG: What is the best thing about being a Dad?
JF: Both of our kids have completely contagious laughs that are just impossible not to get wrapped up in – there’s nothing quite like the feeling of one of your kids finding something hysterical. That energy is way up there on the dad-scale: laughter can fuel an entire day for sure. But honestly, it’s getting to be a dad alongside my wife who is an exceptional mom. We do a good job of tag-team parenting, and I’m able to be with our kids a lot while Ellen’s teaching during the school year, but I constantly learn from her when our lives become parallel enough to actually be parents in the same room at the same time. She’s crazy intuitive. Though I love 1-on-1 times with each of our two kids, my favorite times are when both kids are happily playing and my wife and I get to kind of not be parents for a couple of unified minutes. Our kids are young and you take those opportunities when you can!

KCG: What is the hardest thing about being a Dad (especially if you’re a touring artist)?
JF: Our son Oscar is just now getting to the age where he notices me being away from home when we go on tour as a band. Skype is a total lifesaver. It’s kind of lucky that we paid a lot of band dues before my kids were born- we get to be a lot more choosey about the shows that we play now, and can strike a better balance of time on the road with time for our families. Out of maybe 110 shows on the books for this year, about 90 of them will allow us to sleep in our own beds. That’s a huge deal and a big stress relief.

KCG: How often do you play music/sing with your kids?
JF: I’m constantly singing or listening to music with our kids- most recently Oscar’s been a die-hard Pop Ups fan and Bea kind of growls along with songs and butt-dances when we have music playing at our house. They both come to a lot of shows of ours- Oscar watches Korum drumming intently, and Bea just grooves on the floor, doing a “baby twist” dance move. We’d call her “Chubby Checker” but we don’t want to give her a body image problem.

KCG: Do your kids join you on stage during performances?
JF: Both kids are big music fans but neither has become a part of our live shows in Recess Monkey- Beatrix is so “Gerberiffic” that she really would help our band’s cuteness factor too… It’s a real missed opportunity. Oscar’s an aspiring drummer and we think Bea’s going to dance. No idea if they’ll ever be in bands of their own, but music will surely play a role in their lives as they grow up.

KCG: What are your plans for Father’s Day?
JF: Ha ha… What else? SHOWS! Summer is our crazy season in Recess Monkey and we’ve booked ourselves 75 shows between now and August. We have two on Father’s Day, but the first is right around the corner from my house so the kids and my wife Ellen will probably come to that one. The only request I’ve made is to sleep in until at least 8am, which I can guarantee you will not actually happen. Our mornings are really fun right now- Pjs until at least 11am, but for Father’s day we’re going to push for noon! This family runs on coffee.

Dads Who Rock! Father’s Day Q&A with Adam Marshall of The Bazillions

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The Bazillions are a Minneapolis-based kindie band that brilliantly weaves educational concepts into their songs in a fun and accessible way. Mathematical concepts and figures of speech are explained through stories featuring relatable characters (see “Similes and Metaphors” below).

The band’s entry into kids’ music started in 2010 when Adam and Kristin Marshall were teaching at Kenny Elementary School. From their very first days in the classroom, the couple found themselves writing songs for and with their students, which rapidly became regularly requested hits.

61LPcZbXGVL._SY606_There is another dimension to The Bazillions that has always grabbed my attention, and that is their awesome music videos.Pairing up with the design/animation team of Eric Kreidler and Gretchen Blase Kreidler (collectively referred to as eg design), this crafty crew has put a ton of thought into creating powerful visuals that provide even more depth and insight into the concepts they cover. And with over 2,200,00 views on YouTube, I’m clearly not alone in my devotion.

In honor of Father’s Day and school being out, today’s feature includes a Q&A with Adam Marshall, as well as a video for “No Homework.” Ok, and I had to include one of my favorites “Similes and Metaphors,” because it is outstanding and I love the story they tell to help clarify the difference between the two. I needed this when I was in school!

Keep up with The Bazillions at their official site, and look out for their forthcoming album, On the Bright Side, which will be released on July 17, 2015. It’s a gooooood one, folks!

Purchase the DVD: The Bazillions Rockin’ Video Collection through their online store or watch through Amazon Instant Video.


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KCG: What does being a Dad mean to you?
AM: I’ve embarked, along with my wife Kristin on the most wonderful, challenging, surprising and hilarious journey I could ever take. Good or bad, there’s something new everyday.

KCG: What is the best thing about being a Dad?
AM: The laughs. My kids are funny. Sure, sometimes it’s unintentional, but either way they’re funny!

KCG: How has your work as a musician been impacted by your role as a Father?
AM: Although I’ve only written a couple of songs that were directly about my kids (“Lookout Man” from Rock-n-Roll Recess was about my daughter Naomi), they are always in my head. I can imagine them as the characters in many of the songs I write. A song like “Front Seat” which is about the day a child gets to ride in the front, passenger seat of a car is not about my kids directly, but as I’m writing the song I can see and imagine them making the transition to the front seat of the car. The lyric may formulate itself because I can imagine how they’d react in that situation. The same would go for a song like “You’re Embarrassing Me.” The story in the song is fictional but I’m sure I thought about my kids when I wrote it. So in a way they’re in a lot of the songs.

KCG: How are you planning to celebrate Father’s Day?
AM: Give my wife and kids a huge hug and then go to record stores and get some vinyl!

KCG: What is (one of) the most memorable moment you’ve had as a Dad.
AM: Other than the day they were born; when my daughter was 2 she grabbed the mic at an open jam party we were at and sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. When she was finished everyone clapped. She waited for the clapping to stop then asked if they wanted to hear “ABC.” I guess she was prepared to do a whole set!

KCG: How often do you play music with your kids? Do your kids perform with you?
AM: Since we rehearse in my house, my son Felix will often sit in with the band. He gets his ukulele out and plays along as we rehearse. He just rocks out with us. He has all the moves and looks like one of the guys. It’s awesome. Also, anytime we’ve recorded something new I’ll play it for them. Usually in the car. It’s great to see what they react to, and it’s really great when they start requesting certain songs over and over again. It’s like your own personal focus group.

Video: It Takes All Kinds – Alastair Moock + Dads Who Rock! Father’s Day Q&A

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Alastair Moock has had a long and successful career in both the adult and children’s music worlds, the latter of which includes a Grammy nomination for Singing Our Way Through: Songs For The World’s Bravest Kids. Needless to say, Moock is another dad who ROCKS!

Today’s post features a Father’s Day Q&A, as well as Moock’s latest video for “It Takes All Kinds,” the first single from his forthcoming release due out June 19, 2015. All Kinds of You and Me was inspired by Marlos Thomas’ groundbreaking album Free To Be…You and Me, and similarly presents a collection of songs encouraging us to be proud of who we are and accepting of others. We are all unique, and Moock celebrates the sweetness of this in the first released single + video, “It Takes All Kinds.”

To produce the video, Moock paired up with Key Wilde of Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke whose illustrations and animation complement the song in an excellent way. Wilde’s ability to create wonderfully weird characters pairs well with Moock’s encouraging words: “We come in every shape and size, we live all different kinds of lives / We’re seldom wise to criticize cuz every life’s a kind of prize.” And that applies whether you’re a dancing plant, a dog who oinks, a boy in a dress, or a girl who climbs a tree! Yeah!

You can purchase “It Takes All Kinds” from Moock’s iTunes page.

Read on for some Father’s Day Q&A followed by more Moock music videos!

Below Moock shares his thoughts on being a Dad, his plans for Father’s Day and how his family participates in making music with him.

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KCG: What are you planning to do for Father‘s Day?

AM: Absolutely nothing!

KCG: What is the best thing about being a dad?
AM: Being called Dad by two beautiful kids.

KCG: What is the hardest thing about being a dad (especially if you are a touring artist)?
AM: I actually tour less since I switched my focus to family music than I did in my earlier “grownup” career – and, because shows are early, my kids can come to (and participate in) shows, so that all works out well… I think parenting is challenging for everyone, and I’m certainly no exception. Being a parent is a great job, but it’s a definitely job.
KCG: How often do you play music/sing with your kids? Do your kids join you during performances?
AM: My (twin) girls have sung with me on stage since they were toddlers, and we’ve done a lot of co-writing over the years too. It’s one of my the things I love most about what I do. One of my girls is especially interested in singing and performing… Given that they’re now eight and no doubt about to enter a period of life when dad is going to be a huge embarrassment, I plan to savor this time while it’s still here! And I hope, when they come out on the other side of adolescence, they’ll want to sing and play with me again.
Below are videos featuring Moock and his daughters. “Inside a Book,” which was written with his daughter Elsa and “When I Get Bald,” which he performs with his daughter Clio.

Father’s Day countdown with Dads Who Rock! featuring Danny Weinkauf

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Dads rock! Just ask my daughter who flings open the front door every evening after she hears the beeping of her daddy’s car lock. Even our Chi-weenie (chihuaha-dachsund mix) blazes right after her. There’s a special magic that happens when Dad is around and as Father’s Day approaches, I’m going to be featuring some awesome kindie dads who rock.

Kicking off the Father’s Day countdown is Danny Weinkauf, a Grammy award winning musician, producer and composer whose rockstar resume includes being the bassist for They Might Be Giants (“TMBG”).

Last April, Weinkauf entered the children’s music genre with a solo debut called No School Today, a collection of well crafted, super catchy power-pop songs, many of which feature his son, Kai. It’s truly a family affair with this album!

So in honor of family, Father’s Day and rockstar Dads, today’s feature includes some Q&A with Weinkauf on being a Dad, a touring musician and most importantly his family plans for the upcoming holiday.

Check out videos from No School Today by subscribing to Weinkauf’s YouTube channel, get to know the meaning behind the songs on the album at his official site, and buy the music through his online store


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The best thing about being the father of 2 is that I have 2 more best friends – I love doing just about anything with my kids.

KCG: How will you be celebrating Father’s Day?
DW:
My son Kai has a best friend who is Indian and their family and mine are getting together so his friend’s dad can show me how to cook a couple of different curries.

Then we’re all gonna go to the beach before the sun goes down. I can’t wait – i love Curry!.

What is the best thing about being a Dad?
DW: The best thing about being the father of 2 is that I have 2 more best friends – I love doing just about anything with my kids.

What is the hardest thing about being a Dad (especially if you are a touring artist)?
DW: Touring, Touring, Touring. When I’m not playing shows for kids and their families I play with They Might Be Giants.  We can go away for fairly long stretches of time. It’s tough for my wife and tough for me as I miss my family very much.

How often do you play music/sing with your kids?
DW: Both of my kids sing or speak on my albums so I often ask them to do a backing track or lead vocals on some tunes. My son is learning how to play guitar , ukulele, and piano, so I try and get him to play with me whenever I can but it’s tricky  – he’s a teenager.

Do you kids join you during performances?
DW: My son Kai has taken the stage to sing “Champion of the Spelling Bee” (which he also sang on my No School Today album) on a couple of occasions if it didn’t conflict with school and sports etc.

In celebration of Father’s Day, and in anticipation of summer check out the below videos, “Champion of the Spelling Bee” featuring Weinkauf’s son, Kai, and “Ice Cream.”