View this: “Santa Flying In Your Sleigh” – Todd McHatton + FREE DOWNLOADS through Dec 25, 2013.

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Todd McHatton has a new video for “Santa Flying In Your Sleigh” from his Christmas Songs album. I love this song because it echoes some of the curiosity and wonder kids have about Santa and Christmas. It’s as though McHatton was inspired by his own children’s questions when he wrote this song, which makes it so endearing and totally relatable. My daughter is approaching 5 and lately she has been asking the same kinds of questions that McHatton sings about here like “Santa Flying in your sleigh/ How do make it all the way/ Around the world? And Santa please tell me one more thing/ How do you know just what to bring/ Every boy and girl?” There is something about McHatton’s music that is so comforting. I frequently find myself thinking “yes, this is exactly the way music should sound.” And you are more than likely to feel exactly the same way.

As a special Christmas bonus, Todd McHatton is offering FREE downloads of all his albums (even Marvy Monstone’s album is available for FREE!) through Dec 25. Make sure you grab them through McHatton’s Bandcamp site or via the Bandcamp widget below. This is a rare and special opportunity. Also, check out my post about giving merchandise in addition to music this year. The post features Mchatton’s book, Grass Stained Twilight, a collection of stories, songs, pictures, and poems that echoes the likes of Shel Silverstein. Download the album and grab a copy of the book for an excellent gift.

View This: “Another Good Year” and “Dinosaur” by Lori Henriques

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Lori Henriques and her brother, Joel Henriques of Made by Joel, put together an artful video for Lori’s new holiday track, “Another Good Year.” The video was filmed with Joel’s son and daughter drifting paper snowflakes around the screen. The slow movement of the snowflakes in combination with Lori’s bouncy piano and jazzy vocals creates a sense of joy and peace. And the DIY simplicity of this video will no doubt make you want to grab some scissors and start carving out a few snowflakes of your own. In anticipation of this crafty craving, Joel posted a how-to link on his blog which features easy snowflake making instructions for kids (and their grown-ups).

“Another Good Year” isn’t the first time that these two incredibly talented siblings have produced a masterpiece. Lori recently published a video, featuring live drawing by Joel, for her song “Dinosaur.” In this song, Lori’s voice has a certain tenderness that is simply heartwarming as she lovingly sings to the former free roaming reptile. “Dinosaur” is featured on Lori’s 2013 release, The World is a Curious Place, which is filled with curiosity and wonder. The album is available through Lori’s store, Amazon and iTunes.

You can learn more about the making of this video here, and grab templates to make your own Paper City Dinosaur set here

Bonus: Made by Joel provides instructions and templates on his website for a variety of art, craft and handmade education projects. The site is extremely user friendly with easy navigation that directs you to crafts broken down by age, as well as free printable activities. Music + art = happiness! Check it out!

Holiday single: “Santa and Baby (Santa’s Little Helper)” – Debbie and Friends

960217_10202785339659197_567911192_nI posted this up on Facebook but also wanted to give it a shout out here because I dig the message in this song. I also love the colorful animation for this charming tale about a young pup wanting to be Santa’s little helper. Whether four-legged or not, I think all “young pups” will relate to wanting to be a part of Santa’s crew.

Debbie Cavalier of Debbie and Friends drew her inspiration from her friend’s dog, Baby (pictured here thanks to Beth Oram Photography), and the grooves of the Spin Doctors, which works nicely in this song.

You can also stream the song for free via the Soundcloud widget below:

More music for the holidays 2013

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Christmas is right around the corner! Hopefully things are starting to slow down a bit for many of you as Christmas shopping is nearing completion. Although this is still a hectic period for me, listening to holiday music seems to bring me back to what this time of year truly means. So, I have another little list of songs that captures the joy, peace and even humor of the season. Enjoy!

4058-Sunny Christmas Cover Art med resRenee & jeremy – “Sunny Christmas”

This song was featured in my Songs for the Season Part 1 holiday list last year but I didn’t have a video to post, until now. “Sunny Christmas” is the title track from a 6 song EP that Renee & Jeremy released last year. The EP is done in Renee & Jeremy’s soft, peaceful style. I believe I referred to their music as “comfort food for your soul.” In the video for “Sunny Christmas,” R&J reached out to fans to put together a beautiful montage that captures the harmony, love and togetherness of the holiday season. Sunny Christmas can be sampled and purchased through Renee & Jeremy’s site, CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon.

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457666934_640Zak Morgan“Snow Day”
Zak Morgan’s music is good, and that’s putting it mildly. Zak Morgan’s videos are reallllyyyyyy gooood! In many ways, it’s as if the two share a symbiotic relationship; The videos bring to life the spirit and wit of the songs. After last year’s awesome Halloween video for “The Case of the Dry Markers,” which featured Bootsy (“Bootzilla”) Collins, Morgan comes back with “Snow Day,” featuring a life-sized chicken, although that is just one of the many highlights of this video. “Snow Day” can be found on Morgan’s 2012 release Barber of the Beasts which is available through the Zak Morgan store, Amazon and iTunes.


a1093294532_2Pointed Man Band “All That Krampus Wants (is High-Fives! for the Holidays)”
From the Portland, Oregon band, a song about Krampus who has been misunderstood. Ready for redemption, all he wants is a high-five, fist bump or five fingered endorsement to set him on a good path for the holidays. That’s fair, right? Although this song is a little more
indie than kindie, it (and Pointed Man Band) gets points for taking a clever approach to holiday music. It was released last year, but their full-length debut, Swordfish Tango, made it out this year. Both are definitely worth a listen. You can purchase this single and Swordfish Tango through the Bandcamp widget below.

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poochamungas2Poochamungas – “Santa’s Eating Pancakes”
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and Santa knows it. As he prepares to drive his sled, he’s eatin’ up some pancakes. Featuring vocals from the band Strain Busy Sky, Poochamungas celebrates Christmas in a charitable way as the proceeds from the sale of this track will go to the Ignite the Spirit Fund. Ignite the Spirit Fund aims to provide assistance, support and food for families of the Chicago Fire Department. You can purchase “Santa’s Eating Pancakes” from Amazon, CDBaby and iTunes.

staceypeasley3Stacey Peasley – “Under the Tree” and “Frosty the Snowman”
Stacey Peasley is a Boston-based musician who has over 15 years of professional singing experience. A teacher for ten years, Peasley channels her love of children and music into an engaging experience filled with catchy songs. Just in time for the holidays, Peasley has 2 singles for fans to enjoy. “Under the Tree,” is a bouncy, country tune that supports sibling love as one child writes to Santa telling him not to “forget about my brother/ even though he can be naughty/ he deserves some presents under the tree.” “Frosty the Snowman,” doesn’t stray too far from the original, but Peasley’s soaring vocals add depth along with a warm and cozy feeling. You can purchase these tracks from Amazon, CDBaby and iTunes.

mzi.labvjbab.170x170-75Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke – “(Sing a Song of) Christmas Cheer”
This one is an oldie but goodie! From their 2011 release Sing Songs of Christmas Cheer, comes a video filled with Wilde’s quirky (but highly appealing) illustrations. Get ready to Fa La La all the way to the new year with this catchy song done in KWMC’s beloved alt-country style. It’s like the “Twelve Days of Christmas” but without the counting and a little more spunk. You can purchase this album through Amazon, CDBaby and iTunes.

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treetopsisters7Treetop Sisters – “Nicki and the Crew”

The Treetop Sisters are a trio of girls ages 11 and under. In their video for “Nicki and the Crew,” they merrily sing about St. Nick (humorously referred to as “Nicki”) and his crew on the night before Christmas. It’s a party up in the North Pole! Backed by some jazzy, be-bop flair, the Treetop Sisters will have your family dancing ’round the Christmas tree for sure. You can purchase this song through Amazon, CDBaby and iTunes.

Rockaboo Pre-K music and movement by The Not-Its!

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Get your little rockstars ready to move and groove! The-Not-Its! are expanding their horizons! Seattle’s kindie rockers have developed a Pre-K music and movement class called Rockaboo. Starting January 9, 2014, this 10 week series will be lead by lead singer Sarah Shannon and held in the heart of Seattle at The Wallingford Boys and Girls club.

Rockaboo was developed by Sarah and guitar player Tom Baisden. Each of these artists bring a ton of experience to the table. Sarah is a Seattle mom trained in classical music from The University of Maryland who can boast serious indie cred as lead singer of 90’s Sup Pop group, Velocity Girl, while Tom is a a special education teacher at an arts immersion elementary school.

The mission of Rockaboo is to enrich children’s lives and connect families through music and movement. The science is indisputable, music boosts brain development. In this class (with a maximum of 12 children plus their caregivers), children will learn about dynamics (loud/soft), pitch (high/low), and tempo (fast/slow). Most importantly, in Rockaboo, families will revel together in the joy of music!

You can find more information, and sign up at www.rockaboomusic.com.

The final stretch – Brady Rymer and Randy Kaplan Kickstarters ending soon!

Both Brady Rymer and Randy Kaplan are ready to make their next children’s albums and have launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes to support the recording and production process. With just 4 days left in Brady’s project and 7 days in Randy’s project, there is still time to donate and show your support for these hard working artists. Both Brady and Randy are distinguished children’s artists that regularly produce quality music with depth and a whole lotta soul. Plus, the music just sounds amazing! For those new to Kickstarter: Kickstarter is a fundraising site that allows fans, friends, family and the general public to back a creative endeavor, such as the making of an album. 

Both Randy and Brady have been a big part of our lives since my daughter (almost 5) was an infant, but they both have been making music for much longer than that. As such, I have backed both of these campaigns.

With that, I encourage you to check out each campaign, consider showing your support and ultimately  becoming a part of the music you want to hear.

JUST SAY HI! Brady Rymer’s new album for families that ROCK – Brady is a soulful singer with a tender heart and a ton of spirit. His music is uplifting, engaging and captures the spirit of good ole rock n’ roll. In addition to receiving a 2009 Grammy nomination, Brady has received awards and accolades for his work on Love Me For Who I Am, an album inspired by children affected by autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and related disorders. Just Say Hi! will be Brady’s 7th CD and it promises to be a good one! As Brady mentions on his site: “Just Say Hi! is the most personal batch of songs I’ve written; full of kindness, friendship, and love of family.  Songs about things like falling in love with the ice cream girl, learning to play grandma’s red piano, and just crankin’ up your little light of love and lettin’ it shine.”

Throughout his campaign, Brady has been posting updates with the latest one being a snippet of a video for the song “Ice Cream Girl,” inspired by Brady’s wife who drove a Good Humor ice cream truck as a summer job. Brady also offers some fun incentives with a broad range of pledge opportunities. Just in time for the holidays, Brady is offering 3 holiday tracks at $1 or more as a thank you for pledging. They are great songs! One of our favorites is “Untangling the Christmas Lights.” Other incentives include monster stickers and friendship bracelets, t-shirts, personalized and advanced copies of the CD, singing on the record and for those interested in pledging at a higher level, Brady is giving away his first Gibson guitar. So check it out! Even just a few dollars will help!

Randy Kaplan’s new not-JUST-for-kids CD – Randy Kaplan is regularly referred to as a folk troubadour within the children’s genre. His influences run deep within the folk and blues genres and he skillfully delivers songs that are filled with healthy doses of wit and charm. Randy is a master at combining song and storytelling which is directly linked to his uncanny ability to be honest, humble and totally authentic. His lyrics are clever and written in such a way that tickles the funny bone of both adults and children, while also warming their hearts with a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” which was selected for the Putumayo Kids American Playgound album. His most recent album, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie, a collection of Country Blues and Ragtime for kids, received high honors and awards including being selected by People magazine (August 2012 issue) as one of 8 Cool Kids’ Albums Now!. Randy also regularly appears on critics lists as one of the top children’s performers to see in concert. And I can personally say that is absolutely accurate! Randy is a natural in front of a crowd and is usually surrounded by groups of children who can be heard shouting, laughing and even yodeling along with him. Randy makes music that he enjoys and feels confident that his audience will enjoy.

Which brings me to Randy’s Kickstarter project. With additional support, Randy will be able to create his 13th album to date (his 5th not-JUST-for-kids album). On his Kickstarter page, you can listen to clips for popular songs from previous albums including “No Nothing,” a song about a monkey who was raised by ducks (one of our favorites!) and the “The Mosquito Song,” among others. Randy also explains how he has been producing family records up until now and what his plans are for making the next one. Backers can also receive advanced mp3s or copies of the new CD, the new CD with a special thank you mentioned in the credits, or even a personal concert via Skype with Randy. There are a broad range of incentives here as well, so take a look and consider helping to make the number 13 a lucky one for Randy!

Gift guide: Don’t forget about the merch!

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Did you know that your favorite kindie artist is also an illustrator or an author? Would you love to see your little rockstar sporting a sweet t-shirt with their favorite artist’s/band’s name on it? If you are thinking about giving music as a gift, consider checking out your favorite artist’s/band’s merchandise as well. Many artists offer additional products that make excellent companions to the album(s) you are purchasing. Plus, purchasing the music and merchandise directly through the artist or artist’s store is another great way to show your support.

Below is a small list of items we have come across and in some cases (as shown above) have purchased ourselves. I will be adding more to the list over the next week so stay tuned. 

IMG_3185Frances England – Move over Land of Nod! Frances England recently started an artwork series based on her songs.There are 3 prints in her store, two of which are based on the songs “Tugboat” and “Best Friends” from her album Family Tree and one which is based on the song “Do You Hear The Birds Singing” from Mind of My Own. Each piece is a digital reproduction of a paper cut collage design made by Frances and just as whimsical and lovely as her music!

Do you have a budding guitarist in your family? Or perhaps you play yourself? Even if you don’t own a stringed instrument of any kind, singing along with your little one(s) is a wonderful bonding experience. Frances makes that easy by offering downloadable songbook featuring lyrics and a few 2, 3, and 4 chord songs.

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Gustafer Yellowgold – Morgan Taylor is the creator and illustrator of Gustafer Yellowgold, a yellow fellow who came to Earth from the Sun and landed in the Minnesota woods. Gustafer’s world here on Earth is filled with colorful characters, one of which is his pet and sidekick, Slim the Eel. Slim is a freshwater electric eel who enjoys slipping into socks and chucking melon balls at Gustafer. If you are not already familiar with the brilliant sounds and designs by Taylor, spend some time on the Gustafer Yellowgold site. It’s an experience!

What the store features:
– Plush versions of Gustafer Yellowgold and Slim the Eel (featured at the very top of this blog post). We have gotten so much play out of these toys. We bought these two after seeing a Gustafer concert and when Emily (almost 5) woke up the next day she slipped Slim in a sock and exclaimed “Ya know Slim really gets in ’em!” That was about 6 months ago and since then Slim has found his way in many other socks. For a great gift package, pair these two up with a DVD full of videos and watch the fun unfold.
– Tie dye t-shirts, a Slim the Eel t-shirt
– Downloadable music books for guitar and voice.
– Looking for an app? Gustafer is featured on a mobile app called colAR which transforms a one-dimensional coloring page into an awesome 3D graphic. *NOTE – This App doesn’t work on ipod and iphone3, 3S*

Holiday Bonus: If you are one of the first 50 holiday orders over $25 you will receive a customized illustration from Gustafer creator, Morgan Taylor. Interested in seeing more examples of Taylor’s artwork? Check out the Gustafer Yellowgold blog and the Gustafer Yellowgold Facebook page

6NCD12Justin Roberts – Since this post was published, Justin Roberts received his second Grammy nomination for the album, Recess, which is a power pop blast of sound bundled up in a gorgeously packaged work of art. For this album, Justin worked hard to create a meaningful and and interactive experience for his listeners. As you can see from the image above, Roberts created a super cool CD package which includes a pop-up robot and hopscotch design by artist Ned Wyss. There’s also a fold-out lyrics sheet and links to a secret website with art projects and digital music samples. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, people! Also available for purchase is a limited edition coloring book featuring Wyss’s designs. Download the free coloring page through Justin’s store to get started on the fun.

Additional store items:
– Vinyl! For those who still spin records, you can purchase the180 Gram Heavy Vinyl version of Justin’s album, Lullaby which also includes a digital download card.  Lullaby features Roberts at a slower pace with an original collection of ballads that will melt your heart. So yeah, grab the vinyl! But, if you don’t have a record player grab the CD. Made for kids but just as much of a treasure for adults.
– T-shirts – featuring the Recess logo, a sheep from the Lullaby album. You can even go “vintage” and grab a t-shirt featuring the logo from Justin’s first Grammy nominated album, Jungle Gym.
– Water bottles, Totes, and baseball caps.

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Todd McHatton – Todd McHatton is a man of many talents. In addition to singing and writing songs, he is a puppeteer and an artist whose illustrations can be seen on his album covers and throughout his videos. He is well-known for his wildly popular single “I Think I’m A Bunny,” featuring daughter Hazel and lovable purple puppet, Marvy Monstone. But, this year has seen the expansion of McHatton as he has successfully collaborated with Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold to produce the Underbirds EP, a psychedelic cartoon and epic adventure EP with Mista Cookie Jar, and a beautiful Halloween video with Lori Henriques.

What many people may not know about McHatton is that he wrote and illustrated a children’s book called Glass Stained Twilight. This sweet book is filled with a collection of stories, songs, pictures, and poems à la Shel Silverstein. The book has an accompanying CD described as “The audio equivalent of a sack of candy and a stack of comic books.” I think that pretty much says it all, people.

Additional store features:
– T-shirts featuring Marvy Monstone and his fuzzy, orange friend Finch.