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Morning Wake-up Call with Lisa Loeb! Featuring special guest videos by The Not-Its! And Sugar Free Allstars

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Ok, I’m just gonna say it: I hate am not a fan of the morning rush before school! Once that alarm clock beeps or my child runs in with an egregious amount of joy as she jumps all over the bed, my mind starts racing through all of the things I have to get done, including getting to school on time. Have you ever gotten a tardy card before? I was handed one this year, and I really don’t want another one. Not that I’m all about perfection. My fear is really more related to the word “tardy.” It just screams “we know what you did this morning” in an “I know what you did last summer” way for some reason. But, I digress…

I love listening to music in the morning and really, throughout the day. But, unfortunately, depending on when everyone makes it out of bed, popping that CD into the CD player or, if you are a “streamer,” queueing up that song/playlist just doesn’t happen. I wish we listened to music more frequently during the week because it’s mood altering effects are awesome. Everyone seems to stay focused and the milk goes back into the refrigerator instead of the cupboard with the drinking glasses.

There are songs that I’ve turned to in the past that certainly help, but what has recently brightened the mood are chants. I know, that word “chants” seems strange, but read on!

Lisa Loeb – remember her? She’s the master of that awesome 90’s hit “Stay” which was featured in the movie Reality Bites? In the last few years, Loeb has released several children’s album’s that are focused on camp-themed songs. You can read more about her Camp Lisa album and the Camp Lisa Foundation here.

Last year, Loeb released a song/book combo called Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin': The Air Band Song and Other Toe-Tapping Tunes.” Aside from the fact that there is a song about being a total rockstar in your own air band, there are a couple of songs that have been perfect for getting through the morning. One of them in particular, “Everybody Wake Up,” is an updated version of “The Wakeup Song” from the Camp Lisa album. It’s a great song you can clap and stomp along with. Heck, you can even substitute your own lyrics and instead of stomping have everyone march to the breakfast table.

The actual book that the CD is packaged with provides additional fun if you are home with a little one or need some activities for everyone after the school day. The 24-paged book promises to “get you up out of your chair!” To inspire her audience, Loeb included lyrics and dance instructions, i.e. clapping for “Miss Mary Mack,” how to scare away a monster in “Monster Stomp,” how to tell your left from your right (because your LEFT hand is the only one that can make an “L” shape with your thumb and pointer finger), and even some helpful reminders like hitting the hay earlier for an easier rise and shine. And for those that like a morning stretch or two, “Hello Today” offers some yoga-inspired poses. Ryan O’Rourke adds to the book’s charm with colorful, retro-style illustrations.

I definitely recommend checking this book/CD combo out!

Do you enjoy the morning rush? Have you gotten a tardy card before? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share any tips that help you remain sane and calm whether it involves music, chanting or something else.

ps – the other songs I referred to that relate to this topic are “Busy” by The Not-Its! and “Gotta Get Up” by the Sugar Free Allstars. Videos below.

Watch This + Free Download! “Armando Armadillo” by Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke

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Today’s video premiere and free download is for the song “Armando Armadillo” by Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke (KWMC). It’s also just one of many entertaining stories from their latest release, Animal Tales.

What you will love about it: The illustrations and animation, clever sense of humor and wacky Armadillo facts! Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke’s attention to detail is what consistently sets them apart. What you will find in this video, as well as the rest of Animal Tales, is KWMC’s uncanny ability to tap into a rich, imaginative space that takes listeners/viewers on an adventure along with the characters they create. By presenting a relatable narrative, paired with beautiful artwork, viewers will feel as though Armando is their friend.

What you should know: “Armando Armadillo” is a cautionary tale about a hard working Armadillo who lives with is wife and 12 children (3 sets of identical quadruplets) in a Nacogdoches (Texas) burrow.

Armando has to make daily treks across the busy Highway 21 to get to his job as a gardener which could prove dangerous since armadillos instinctively jump straight up into the air when they get spooked. Even a suit of plated armor is no match for oncoming traffic! But, as the lyrics say “that’s just the way it goes/ For armadillos.”

Viewers will get a chuckle as they are introduced to Armando’s family through a Brady Bunch style grid and as they watch Armando weave his way across the highway with Frogger-like style.

Behind the Scenes: The entire video was illustrated and animated by Key Wilde. Grammy winning producer, Dean Jones, joins in on the guitarron contributing to the Mexican flair of the song.

Want to learn more? Of course you do! Head on over to Facebook and “like” Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke’s page to stay up to date with what they are working on and where you can see them perform. You can also follow them on Twitter.

Key Wilde has done artwork for Avanti Greeting Cards, the Central Park Conservancy and the Woodlands Wildlife Refuge all of which can be found in Key Wilde’s portfolio. I highly recommend checking out his work, as well as KWMC’s Animal Alphabet iPad app and “Animal Alphabet” video.

Stay tuned for my full review of Animal Tales which is akin to an audio version of a National Geographic Kids magazine.

In the meantime, you can download “Armando Armadillo” for free through the Soundcloud link below.

Music Heals with Ann Torralba (aka Little Miss Ann)

There is no denying the incredible power music has on our emotional state and well-being. When I was in the hospital giving birth to my daughter, my focal point was music. It was the one thing that kept me grounded and calm at a scary and uncertain time.

As a parent, I have seen the way my daughter’s mood and focus shifts whether we are singing, playing music or simply listening to it in the background. Because of music, we have laughed like crazy, found our own rhythm, learned incredible facts, and been sweetly soothed during unsettled (and overtired) moments.

This idea of how music can put words to our emotions has prompted me to start a series that features different musicians sharing personal experiences about albums or songs that serve(d) as a source of healing. Kicking off the series is Ann Torralba, aka Little Miss Ann, who shares personal, touching words about how creating music and playing for families gave her strength when faced with an unexpected diagnosis.

Read on and make sure to listen to Follow Me, a joyful, uplifting album that was created throughout Ann’s time of recovery.


 

Ann in Red

I consider myself very lucky. This year, I’ve been doing lots of great kids shows all over the U.S., including Brooklyn, New York, Washington D.C., Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago. I made a fourth kids CD that was funded by Kickstarter, and I’ve got a great 13-year-old daughter, supportive husband and awesome band.

But that’s not why I consider myself lucky. Last year, I had a bad year. I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Yeah, so you can see why it was a bad year. But, I survived it, and now I’m having a good year! I know I survived it because I had great doctors and nurses, an amazing community and family, and modern medicine, but there is one last important element that I believe helped me to heal and recover. That is music. You might know about the studies that say music helps promote healing, relieves anxiety and depression, and so much more. Well, I lived it. After I received my diagnosis in early 2013, I had to spend several days in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital. During that time, I listened to a version of the song “Bulletproof” covered by Melanie Martinez on the Voice, which was a song both my daughter and I loved when we first heard it. Fortunately, I had it downloaded on my phone and listened to it at least 50 times during my hospital stay. I just kept focusing in on the words and the music. 

I went on to spend the first half of 2013 in and out of hospitals. My ear buds became my best friends.  I really don’t know why hospitals are always equipped with TV’s. I’ve never heard of any studies that say televisions have any medical benefits, at least not like music.  Why don’t hospitals have headphones that you can plug into a music source like you can on airplanes?

While I was in the hospital, my really good friend and Brooklyn children’s musician, Suzi Shelton, called me often. She told me about chakras, “centers of spiritual power on the body,” and how listening to certain musicians can stimulate the chakras that need healing. I spent hours and hours listening to this music that I thought would promote healing. 

A good 7-8 months were spent with a lot of uncertainty and waiting. I had to wait for my biopsy, my diagnosis, my surgery, appointments, or radiation. My doctor told me that I shouldn’t identify with being sick. She said that I should just look at the hospital as a place where I needed to get stuff done. I held onto and listened to these very wise words. I continued to perform for families. I looked forward to them, only cancelling 2-3 big ones. 

Although I was still doing lots of gigs, I wasn’t teaching classes and booking as many shows so I had a little more time on my hands than I was used to. I watched a movie called albumart_littlemissann6_200x200“Happy” which talks about characteristics that happy people have in common. One thing they mentioned is being in the “flow” or being ultra-focused on an activity. I practiced that “flow” by spending hours on Garage Band writing new songs filled with love and hope.

After successfully completing a Kickstarter campaign, I went on to make my fourth kids album, Follow Me. The first song, “Someday, Some Morning, Sometime” holds the most significance for me. My friend Michelle recommended it to me as a good song to cover. The lyrics are by Woodie Guthrie and Wilco covered it on Mermaid Avenue 2.  I suspect Woody wrote these words for his kids about some things he wanted to do with them one day in the future. It’s such a beautiful song. Throughout that 8-9 months of being in and out of the hospital, and throughout the 6 weeks of radiation treatment, I thought about my daughter a lot. I wanted to make sure there was a “Someday, Some Morning, Sometime” for us. I remember sitting in the hospital and wanting so badly to be able to do something as simple as taking her to school in the morning and then picking her up at the end of the day.

My fans didn’t know what I had been through, but they seemed to connect with my songs on their own.  When I started doing better, I was happy to do a fundraising concert for St. Jude’s Hospital and donate money to them. I believe that my own experience has motivated me to send CD’s quite often to kids that I have heard are sick in the hospital.

Some people might think that the reasons I listed are not scientific enough to support the benefits of music for healing.  All I know is that I feel a deep connection with music as it helped me through a really difficult time in my life. It has always brought me such happiness and joyful light even in the darkest of times. I am so grateful for this and for the opportunity to continue to play music for families. I want families to know that whether you are healthy or sick, there are so many benefits from playing and/or listening to music.

Little Miss Ann is a Chicago-based children’s musician. Connect with her at her official siteFacebook and Twitter.

Story time with Rock Band Land: Candy Pants

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Source: Rock Band Land

Title: Candy Pants

What’s it all about? One man’s candy obsession alerts the candy crime syndicate who goes after him for stealing all of the candy! Can “Truck” eat his way out of this sticky situation?

Listen to this story and find out.

Watch This: Rekindling the spirit of Jim Henson: “Rattlesnake” by Red Yarn


Red & Bob on set

Portland’s Andy Furgeson, aka Red Yarn, is the man behind the creation of The Deep Woods, and today’s video feature for the song, “Rattlesnake.”

What you will love about it: Its charm! There is a very real, heart-warming feeling about this video that resembles the vibe of many of Jim Henson’s productions (Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band ChristmasThe MuppetsFraggle Rock). Furgeson’s demeanor and refreshing candor brings an authenticity to the scene leaving the audience feeling as though they are invited into the scene as opposed to simply being presented with it.

As the video opens, we are introduced to Red and Bob Rabbit who kickoff the song with a wicked beat and engaging dance movements that will light a spark in the imagination of children who will be compelled to stomp and clap along. As the song builds, more and more critters come out of the woodwork to join in the jamboree. They even welcome in the mean snake who has been terrorizing other animals throughout the song.

What you should know: This video is the first segment of Furgeson’s grant-funded ‘Deep Woods’ TV Pilot. The pilot tells the story how Red Yarn first discovered the Deep Woods, befriended the critters that live in the forest and started a traveling band with them. The only way the Deep Woods will survive is if the children of the world remember these old characters and the folk songs from which they came, so Red decides to help the critters by going on the road together. The “Rattlesnake” video depicts the first time Red plays music with the band.

Behind the Scenes: A huge creative team came together to make this pilot happen. 12 puppeteers worked to bring the puppets to life while Jeff Speetjens (digital artist for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, as well as Green Lantern) collaborated and served as director, production designer, Joseph Silva was cinematographer and editor, and Ryan Bruce served as art director. You can view the names of the entire crew at the video’s YouTube page.

Want to learn more? Of course you do! Check out my interview with Andy Furgeson which goes into further detail about what The Deep Woods is all about and how it was born out of Furgeson’s interest in American folklore with a special focus on the role animals played in old folk songs. There’s some really interesting stuff here!

Tune in: Happy Halloween playlist that will lift your spirits!

FullSizeRenderAs the days creep closer and closer to Halloween, we are firing up our playlist and enjoying not-so-terrifying tunes as we parade around in our costumes and finish decorating our jack-o-lanterns.

Below the Spotify playlist you will also find a new video by Todd McHatton and a groovy new song from Charity and the Jam Band called “Halloween” delivering the most essential reminder: No matter what you’re gonna be for Halloween, you can still dance in your costume!

Enjoy!

If you like what you hear, please consider supporting these artists by purchasing/downloading these songs through the links below. Please note that these links are also affiliate links which help support this blog.

Monsters” by Jazzy Ash (from Home)

Monster Boogie” by Laurie Berkner (from Buzz Buzz and The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)

“Dance LIke A Monster” by Play Date (from Imagination)

“Costume Party” by The Pop Ups (from Appetite for Construction)

“Them Bones (feat. Outtasite)” by Caspar Babypants (from Sing Along!)

“Always Be A Unicorn” by Helen Austin (from Always Be A Unicorn)

“Every Little Monster” by Todd McHatton (from Super Audio Sunshine)

“Gettin’ Down On Halloween” by Boxtop Jenkins (fromYou’re Happier When You’re Happy)

“Three Little Pumpkins” by Little Miss Ann (from Follow Me)

“Five Little Pumpkins” by Raffi (from Singable Songs for the Very Young)

“Scared Scare Crow” by Caspar Babypants (from Hot Dog!)

“Where Do Monsters Go?” by Ratboy Jr. (from Champions of the Universe)

“Confusing Costume” by Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights (from Good Egg)

“I’m Not Afraid Anymore” by Papa Crow (from Things That Roar)

Want more Halloween fun, check out the Halloween Digest featuring videos by The Hipwaders, Mista Cookie Jar and Play Date and a fun Halloween word activity!

Halloween Digest 2014: Part 1 – Videos and Activities!

I love Halloween and all the preparation, spooky tales, trick or treating adventures and the rest of the absurdity that goes along with it. Today’s post is the start of a few posts related to this holiday. We’ll start with some videos, round things up with a monster dance party, and end with a book suggestion and fun Halloween activity. The party is just getting started! Fill your treat bucket with a Halloween playlist full of fresh tunes that will lift your spirits!

The Hipwaders -Pumpkinhead” –  The legend of Pumpkinhead muhahaha… Actually, this is a fun, cautionary tale about the consequences of eating too much candy. The Hipwaders relay this tale with a smooth, reggae beat making it hip for Halloween. A great song and terrific video featuring a rotating set of vintage Halloween postcards. I want some of those in my pillowcase!

Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips – “Halloween Every Night” – This haunt floats in with some surf-rock grooves as Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips present a “spirited” video featuring a cast of spooky characters having fun together on Halloween night. There’s a bit of retro fancy in this video as well when the colorful crew takes to the “Spooky Movies” where they are presented with clips of classic freaks from the past (Frankenstein, Dracula, The Munsters even show up). Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans might feel a bit of nostalgia here as the monsters’ silhouettes are superimposed at the bottom of the scene in a similar fashion. The entire concept, drawing and animation was done by Mista Cookie Jar and family. Very cool.

Play Date – “Dance Like A Monster” – This is a classic and I encourage you and your family to “get your monster boogie on” with the rest of the Ghouligans in this video. There’s even a call to “let our your monster cry!” A perfect addition to a Halloween playlist and impromptu monster mash dance parties.

Additional Halloween Fun

UnknownWhen you’re through with dancing, check out “Glad Monster, Sad Monster” an awesome book that helps kids channel and communicate their emotions. This book goes through what makes each monster happy, glad, sad, mad, scared, etc, and then prompts kids to put on the monster masks and express their feelings in the same way. One of our favorites!

 

 

Looking for a fun activity? Do some Halloween Word Mining! Read this PBS Parents feature by Jeff Bogle from Out With The Kids for instructions and a printable activity sheet to get you started. http://www.pbs.org/parents/adventures-in-learning/2014/10/halloween-word-mining/

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