Celebrate Sesame Street with The Hipwaders’ FREE DOWNLOAD

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Today is a special day! 45 years ago the very first Sesame Street episode aired, launching a revolutionary change in educational television programming. Throughout the week I will bring you various treats in honor of this occasion starting with today’s FREE DOWNLOAD by The Hipwaders. Fans of the beloved show will absolutely enjoy singing along with one of the most well-known TV themes. Grab a copy of the “Sesame Street Theme” below.

Check this out: Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke – Animal Tales

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Welcome to the Kingdom of Animalia! Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke (KWMC) are back and this time they have a whole new cast of animal characters for you to meet. Animal Tales is the duo’s fourth album and one that you should expect to spend a lot of time with because it’s just that good. We have had it on repeat for over a month now and I still learn something new with every spin. Em liked it so much that she illustrated her own book featuring every animal from the album. Now that’s love! She even insisted on contributing her own thoughts “for other kids!” which is featured at the end of this review.

As always, the brilliance of KWMC’s work can be found within the fine-tuned details. Whether it’s Wilde’s gorgeous illustration that graces the album’s cover or the skillful way each song is constructed, it’s clear that this talented duo puts a ton of thought into their work. Imagine if you were to open a National Geographic Kids or Ranger Rick magazine and there was music playing on each page. Animal Tales takes the pages of these beloved magazines and brings them to life with soundtracks that are cleverly matched to a variety of animal personalities. The songs are rich with fun animal facts that also include the the artists’ lovable sense of humor and clever ability to play with words and phrases, making it one of the most listenable and entertaining albums out there. “The Buck Stops Here,” is a prime example of these guys totally nailing it.

I heard that the buck stops here/ They tell me that the buck stops here/ But I’ve been here for a year/ And I Ain’t seen a single deer/ Gotta move on it’s time to roam/ But I’ll wait until the cows come home/ Heard that the buck stops here/ …/I’m waiting ’til the cows to come home/ But the cows may never come home/ It’s a waste of time and I’ll tell you why/ Cows will come home when pigs can fly… /Some say pigs can fly/ Others say it’s just a lie/ Never seen a pig in the sky/ But the doctor says pigs can fly/ Doctor said it so it must be true/ Doctor said “Swine flu.”

“Larry the Lobster” also includes a brief quip which gets me smiling every time. When Herman the Hermit Crab moves to a new shell, he bids his anemone friends farewell by saying, “With friends like me who needs anemones?

While most of the 13 tracks on the album relate to animal stories, there is also support for wildlife conservation, reminding us of the challenges animal’s face whether it’s due to population decline, habitat changes or environmental challenges. “The Bear Song,” one of our favorite songs, teaches about 8 species of bears throughout the world.There’s even a shout out for the sugary kind. Do you know the color of a Polar Bear’s skin or which bear sings her cubs to sleep? The song and its accompanying video were created in collaboration with the Woodlands Wildlife Refuge, a non-profilt wildlife rehabilitation facility dedicated to the care and release of orphaned and injured wildlife. Emily loves this song so much that she actually said to me “mama, be quiet and listen to the facts.” I mean, that’s for real.

Animals have always been a central theme with this duo. Animal Tales, in particular, was largely inspired by Wilde’s interest in animals from his own childhood and the intrigue they brought him. He explains,

As a child I was constantly drawing pictures of animals. I loved reading about animals and  observing them whenever possible. To me, each species expressed its own character and personality. Music was another big obsession and I suppose I made this record because I would have loved it when I was a kid.”

Animal tales is truly an album for families to share. Listeners will be treated to a musical expedition accompanied by a bountiful supply of fresh tracks that both educate and entertain. You’re always taken on a wild adventure with this dynamic duo which is exactly why we love them.

Emily’s Take: They always know what to do about soaring things in the sky and on land. Bears, birds and bees, squirrels and frogs. Things you don’t know about animals you get to learn! They make children laugh. It’s kind of funny when you think about a cat named Beastapuss. Animal facts are fun.

Liner Notes:

– Animal Tales was produced by Grammy-winning producer Dean Jones
– Favorite songs: The Bear Song, Alligator Get-Together, Beastapuss
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Key Wilde has done artwork for Avanti Greeting Cards, the Central Park Conservancy and the Woodlands Wildelife Refuge which was featured in a book called Broke Leg Bear, a true story about a badly injured cub who was rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Learn more and purchase the book here.
– KWMC’s “Animal Alphabet” video has reached over 660,000 views! The song is also featured in a Mibblio app along with Wilde’s beautiful artwork.

Meet Armando Armadillo from last week’s video release and grab a FREE DOWNLOAD of the song.

You can purchase the album through Amazon, or iTunes.

Make sure to follow Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke for updates via Facebook and Twitter!

 

Story time with Rock Band Land – “Alone At Home With A Bus”

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It’s story-time with Rock Band Land again, folks!

Source: Rock Band Land. Learn more about Rock Band Land here.

TitleAlone At Home with A Bus

What’s It All About?: Brothers and sisters are home alone for the first time when a bus crashes into their house. The kids remove the bus with an ingenious invention, but must explain the domestic destruction to their parents. Below will find the story and the song.

Why is there a story and a song? The story was written in Rock Band Land, a creativity program for elementary-aged kids. The kids come together, form a band and collaborate ideas that form a story. Once the story is written, it is turned into a song and the kids participate by lending their voices for a rockstar recording produced by members of the band Rainbow Beast (who are also Rock Band Land teachers). Learn more about this incredible program by clicking on the Rock Band Land links above. Hear more from Rainbow Beast here.

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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.