Check this Out: Rocksteady by Josh and the Jamtones

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One of the most exciting jobs I had when I was a teenager was working at…wait for it… Sam Goody. Who remembers the music store Sam Goody?! I worked in inventory which was such a sweet deal because employees got to keep their share of CDs before they hit the shelves. It was here that my love for ska, punk, and hardcore blends of each blossomed. Sublime’s 40oz to Freedom made it’s way into my regular rotation and somehow my parents were completely ok with it, thankfully. For those familiar or even unfamiliar with this album, it’s definitely got its share of expletives and “adult content.” As a parent, I would probably try and postpone similar things by at least a decade for my daughter, or at least work hard to find radio edit versions. Isn’t it funny how that works?

This is where kids music has opened up many doors for our family in terms of introducing all the flavors of adult music, without compromising the quality. One of the bands that takes me back to the “Goody days” is Josh and the Jamtones. I first witnessed the power of this Boston-based crew during a live performance showcase at an industry conference (“Kindiefest”). This band lit it up! Instant success. Instant sweat. I have since gone on to work with them as their booking agent but our family’s adoration of their music has preceded my professional affiliation with the band. As a music lover and blogger, I consider it my wholehearted responsibility to introduce you to a really killer listening experience.

Josh and the Jamtones has been pumping out ska/reggae/rock jams since 2012. Their music has always had a catchy element to it, garnering several top placements in the Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live Countdown, but it is with their latest album, Rocksteady, that the Jamtones deliver exactly what makes them such a successful family staple. And they come correct! Rocksteady is a powerful amplifier that cranks out hit after hit. And there is no age limit. This is literally music that the whole family will enjoy.

Produced by Patrick Hanlin, also the Jamtones’ beatmaster/drummer, Rocksteady features several special guests including Grammy nominated hip hop master Secret Agent 23 Skidoo who drops some goosebump-inducing lyrical color on “I <3Ur Face” and “I Love U (JZ Remix),” Father Goose (featured on Grammy nominated Dan Zanes’ albums), and Jesse Peter Wagner from The Aggrolites, who sings on a remake of Toots and the Maytals’ “Monkeyman.”

Though the tempo of most of the songs reach some bpm heights, the band offers some cool down opps during the smooth dub-reggae track “Katmandu,” the sweet pop melody of “L-O-V-E” and acoustic ballad “1 of a Kind” though these tracks are not sleepy by any means. There is also some comedic interludes between bandleader Josh Shriber and producer/drummer Hanlin, similar to their previous album, Bear Hunt. Adults will likely find this humor more relatable and funny than their tots. I found myself laughing out loud several times while my daughter preferred to move on. The improvisational skill between Shriber and Hanlin is undeniable and I think these bits could do very well in their own dedicated release or podcast as opposed to being integrated into an already colorful musical landscape. But that’s again what drives the appeal to more of an all ages crowd.

For the music lover who likes just the right amount of attitude coupled with 40oz of their favorite kid-friendly elixir, Rocksteady is an all natural, preservative free guaranteed spirit booster. Get your hands on a copy and skank your cares away.

Rocksteady is available through Amazon, iTunes and CDBaby.

Fans of Josh and the Jamtones may also like The Not-Its!, Board of Education, The Aquabats, the Boogers, Sublime, The Police, Bob Marley, No Doubt, Long Beach Dub Allstars, Bad Brains, Toots and the Maytals, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Less Than Jake, The Aggrolites, Gorillaz, Beastie Boys, and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

#WhatMakesYouSmile featuring Rissi Palmer celebrating the release of Mighty Mo’s Smiles Ahead

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The idea of living life with childlike wonder has been rolling around in my mind for a while, and not just because I’m a mom. Sometimes I just want to get closer to that uninhibited, ridiculously silly voice that otherwise takes a backseat to professional and parental obligations. Obviously, as a mature adult I can’t get too uninhibited, but, in general, my day could really brighten up with a little more nonsense and play. Kids are amazing in that respect. They move through life in moments, and their joy is naturally infectious.

For my daughter, each day begins with a fresh new perspective. Waking up to our dog licking her face, catapulting into my bed in the morning, wearing a cape, drawing on a pristine piece of paper, or just holding a pretty marble are all things that make her smile. That’s the beauty of childhood and something I truly envy at times! It’s also what makes being a parent such an adventure, keeping me closer to living life with childlike wonder.

Celebrating that unfettered joy and offering it up in the form of music is something I tend to get really excited about. Rissi Palmer, a North Carolina-based singer-songwriter, is featured on Smiles Ahead, a compilation that is debuting today by new kids music label Mighty Mo Productions. What you will immediately notice is that Rissi’s voice is golden, and her song “Best Day Ever” is just such a wonderful reminder that life’s precious and most gleeful moments can be found in the little things. Whether it’s the bestest breakfast or just chillin’ in your jammies, it’s the in-between, the tiny details that make life so sweet.

Many of you may be familiar with Rissi from the Country music world. Best Day Ever is also the name of her debut family album and there is just so much soul and joy in this record. Rissi has had an extremely accomplished (putting it mildly) career as a Country Soul singer, including earning a comfy spot in Billboard’s Hot 100, and recently appearing on the Tavis Smiley Show. She’s amazing and another excellent choice that makes Mighty Mo’s new compilation such a treasure.

Smiles Ahead will be available in select Hallmark Stores. You can also purchase it online at Mighty Mo Produtions’ official site, iTunes and Amazon.

Below, Rissi shares what makes her smile, and I am extending the same questions to all of you. I would love to hear what makes you, your family, your pets smile.

For more #WhatMakesYouSmile goodness check out the post I published earlier this week featuring Frances England. You can listen to and watch the video for “The Sun Will Shine Again” here.
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Kids Can Groove: Tell me about “Best Day Ever.” Is there a special meaning or inspiration behind it?

RP: “Best Day Ever” was the first song written when I decided to do a children’s album. My co writers (Deanna Walker, Rick Beresford, & Blue Miller) and I sat in Blue’s studio with my then 9 month old daughter Grace as our inspiration/mascot and talked about all the things that would make up a kid’s perfect day. It turned out to be such a fun song and set the tone for all the other songs on the album that we decided to make it the title of the whole project.

KCG: How did you earn about Smiles Ahead, and what drew you to it? 

RP: Jim Cosgrove gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse lol! Once I heard the concept and who was on the project, I was sold.  This is a special thing and I’m really honored to be a part of it. I especially love the tag line “cool music for cool families”.

KCG: What makes you smile? Could be a memory or two, a special someone or something like fills you up, etc.

RP: Listening to my 4-year-old daughter, Grace, sing the songs she makes up makes me smile. Music has been a lifelong passion of mine and it brings me so much joy to see my child grow to love it as well.

KCG: What is next on the horizon for you?

RP: I am currently recording a Christmas EP that will be released in November 2015 entitled 3 and I’m on the road supporting my “adult” EP, The Back Porch Sessions, which was released in May 2015.

#WhatMakesYouSmile Interview: Frances England featured on Mighty Mo Productions debut Smiles Ahead

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Since the school year started, and we’ve gone up a grade, I’ve been feeling conflicted. Almost 7, my little girl is growing up and with developmental changes and maturity comes the desire for more independence. As much pride as I feel watching her flap her wings, I also feel some unexplainable pangs of fear and vulnerability. I already see her setting higher expectations for herself and staying affected for a little longer than usual after a challenging situation. At the same time, the zeal she carries with her every day is inspiring. Together our perspective is shared, and as a result we are constantly learning new ways to navigate the life’s greatest adventures together. In reality, though, she is my muse.

Regardless of what comes her way, I just want her to be able to draw upon the wealth of knowledge she gains from our shared experiences. And to help achieve that, I am striving to better model my reactions for her. It’s not always easy to articulate the right words, and thankfully, when words can’t describe big emotions, music does. It can set the scene, undeniably capture the spirit of the moment, and offer just the right words. It can literally turn a frown upside down.

Frances England has consistently been able to capture the unexplainable with her soft but powerful voice. Her words are precious as well, and together with her euphonious acoustic melodies she just finds a way to breathe out compassion and courage. England’s song “The Sun Will Shine Again,” is featured on a new kindie compilation called Smiles Ahead which is being released on October 16, 2015 through Mighty Mo Productions. Also featured on her 2013 release, Blink of an Eye, “The Sun Will Shine Again” is a comforting track that looks at life with an optimistic view. Life can be unpredictable and reassurance from a comforting voice is sometimes exactly what we need to find that smile ahead.

 Mo Productions was created by Jim “Mr. Stinky Feet” Cosgrove and Tom Brantman a Kansas City musician and integral part of Kansas City Jiggle-Jam, a highly regarded family music festival. Smiles Ahead is the label’s first album and, in addition to England, the compilation features a slew of top, award-winning artists making music for families like The Okee Dokee Brothers, Grammy nominated The Pop Ups, Brady Rymer, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Rissi Palmer, Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips, Johnny Bregar, Grenadilla and Kira Willey. The album also includes fresh new tracks by Caspar Babypants and The Verve Pipe, and a debut single from Katydid. It’s an excellently curated compilation and one that is aptly named. It definitely delivers on the promise of its name.

As to how England’s track adds to the compilation, Cosgrove explains, “When I first heard this song, I fell in love with it. And then when we decided to do this project, I knew we had to include it. It’s so full of hope, and it’s a great reminder that sometimes happiness can blossom from a very low place. Kids get that. And Frances‘ voice is so comforting! She makes us all feel like everything is going to be just fine and beautiful.”

In honor of today’s release, I am so pleased to present an interview with Frances England. Check out what makes her smile. And to keep the warm, fuzzy feeling going, please leave a comment letting us know what makes you happy!


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Kids Can Groove: Can you tell us the inspiration behind the song, “The Sun Will Shine Again?”

Frances England: “The Sun Will Shine Again” is really about accepting that some days bad things happen — you get knocked down, you feel mad or angry about something — but you have to move past those feelings and start again.  It’s also about taking risks – if you never try something new, you don’t grow as a person.  Taking risks is also about being ok with making mistakes, learning from them and trying again.

KCG: How did you come to learn about Smiles Ahead and what drew you to it?

FE: I learned about Smiles Ahead from Jim Cosgrove and I was immediately interested because of him. Jim’s been making wonderful music for kids and families for a long time and he has so much heart and passion around the projects he’s involved in. So when he told me he was putting together a compilation of good-vibe songs that make people smile, I wanted to be part of that!  And so many of my favorite kindie artists are on this cd so I feel really honored to be part of this project for that reason too.

KCG: What makes you smile? 

FE: So many things make me smile everyday –  my sons’ original jokes & detailed sketches and drawings, my husband skating boarding with my boys, my dog when she gets to run off leash, the quirky neighbors on my block that always have something to say about the weather, the surfers who walk through my neighborhood in wetsuits down to Ocean Beach.  There are so many reasons to smile – I feel lucky everyday.

KCG: What is next on the horizon for you?

FE: I have a new album coming out early next year called, Explorer of the World.  It’s co-produced by Dean Jones & Dave Winer and it’s all about exploration, observation and investigation.  The sound is very different than my previous music – a lot more beats, drum machines, horns, analog synth sounds.  The three of us had such a good time making this record and I can not wait to share it with everyone.

Audio premiere: “It’s Only In Your Head” – Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips

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Life can be a little scary for kids. So many changes are happening it’s as if their heads could start to spin any moment. Unfortunately, little minds tend to process life’s cornucopia while they are asleep. When Emily was younger she used to refer to her dreams as the movies in her mind. When she would wake up, she would either refer to what she saw as a bad movie or a good movie and recount the scenes with plenty of detail. The bad movies were scary and disorienting, and I always found it hard to explain wicked dreams as the result of an overactive mind. Even pretending to spray the monsters away after a sudden nightmare didn’t always provide relief. 

In the spirit of squashing late night haunts, I am proud to present the premiere of the 13th single by Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips. Sprinkled with echoing soundbites and twinkling glockenspiel,“It’s Only In Your Head” reminds kids that no matter how real things seem when they close their eyes, they are safe and surrounded by the love that awaits them when they wake up. And that is the perfect remedy for any scary thoughts or moving images that affect their slumber.

Today’s premiere serves as a mile marker that closes up the circle in Mista Cookie Jar’s “song-a-month” project making 13 a pretty fantastic number. CJ Pizarro (“Mista Cookie Jar”) shares his thoughts and inspiration behind the song:

“‘It’s Only In Your Head’ is four years in the making, so it really took it’s time to simmer. I had a feeling that this was gonna be a deeper one than usual and it took me a while to figure out the full scope of where it was going both musically and lyrically. And now here it is, just in time for the anniversary of the first single, “Halloween Every Night.” I realized it’s a song to encourage the little ones when they hit fear in regards to dreams, odd synchronicities and self-doubt. It’s a heart song about free will really — managing the darkness on a “feeling” level. As the saying goes, “Life is but a dream.” The power of imagination mixed with a good heart plus the collective hearts of a village can turn a major nay into a yay and move mountains.

In terms of children’s works, there’s an abundance of fantasy and stories about dreaming, i.e. Alice In Wonderland, Peter Pan, and my favorite, the films of Miyazaki. It’s my theory (and not just mine of course) that children by nature are tapped into the otherworldly. Everything is so new to them, they might not even understand the difference between reality and dream. The imagination of the child is sacred for sure. “

The Digital Future of Kids Music: Rhapsody launches Rhapsody KIDS

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Recently there have been a couple of big announcements in the kids music world that further underscore the shifting of the tides with regard to streaming media. Spearheading the big news was the release of the Pop Ups’ latest album, Great Pretenders Club, which is being offered exclusively online through Amazon Music, along with music videos for each song. The second is Rhapsody’s launch of Rhapsody KIDS, a dedicated resource specifically targeting younger listeners and their families.

The introduction of a new streaming service for kids isn’t that surprising as there are many streaming-video services already offering the convenience of a kid-friendly zone (Netflix, YouTube, Comcast XFinity).  But, the move to create a streaming-music section especially for kids is trendsetting as there isn’t one streaming/subscription based model that has a separate kids section yet. Digital outlets and streaming media competitors like Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music offer access to titles within the Children’s Music category, but still require parents to sample and search for an artist/song, music channel, and select/create curated playlists. And there is essentially no buffer between kid-appropriate content vs grownup content. In other words, you can’t just hand your digital device over and not expect some exploring or tinkering with “your stuff.” With Rhapsody KIDS, Rhapsody is essentially promising a “hands-free, worry-free” experience where parents can let the kids “drive.”

As a someone who is professionally immersed in kids music what struck me about this new service is the impact that it could have for the genre as a whole. How this plays out financially for artists is another story, as small royalty payments and the loss of CD sales to streaming media continue to be sensitive topics. The thing that I find intriguing is the exposure potential that a dedicated kids music resource could offer, similar to the way Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live has made satellite radio a conduit for families to discover music together. While I recognize that exposure is in no way a substitute for the value of an artist’s time and craft, having a special “nook,” could add significant value through more focused research by dedicated music editors, and parent-child interaction. As the progression of kids music leans toward more of an all ages experience, where the sounds and quality of the lyrics are meant to appeal just as much to grownups, Rhapsody KIDS could open up a path toward a shared listening experience. As a parent I recognize the convenience of this service, and am eager to try it out with my daughter. As a music lover, and supporter of independent artists, I recognize that this is yet another avenue that discourages consumers from purchasing music, which is what puts more of a reward in artists’ hands.

Hopefully over time the industry will shift and artists will start to earn more. A recent Newsweek article polled indie artists on their thoughts about streaming music and a few artists asserted that exposure through streaming services are attracting more attendance at live shows. Since the kids music genre is somewhat of a niche it’s hard to say if that same logic applies, but exclusive offers through digital outlets and featured kids music sections could sway things toward greater success.

Chris Ballew of Caspar Babypants (and lead singer of The Presidents of the United States of America) is the featured artist in Rhapsody KIDS’ promotional video. Caspar Babypants is featured in promotional ads as well, alongside Kidz Bop and Disney. 

The main Rhapsody app is a subscription-based model which means access to music is available for a set monthly price. Rhapsody is offering a special subscription rate bundle with Rhapsody KIDS for $1/month for 3 months and then the pricing goes up to $9.99/month.

Below are some of the highlights that Rhapsody KIDS offers. We will

  • Create-your-own: Parents can select songs from the main Rhapsody app and add them to a playlist in the KIDS section.
  • Featured editor curated songs and playlists.
  • Offline Access – Save your data plan! Anything that’s bookmarked for kids automatically downloads for offline listening. Think dead spot on a local road, camping, or a dressing room in the mall.
  • Repetition is key – Songs and playlists in Rhapsody KIDS automatically loop so you’re kids can hear their favorites til the cows come home.
  • Keep it separate – The KIDS section is designed to fool the young’uns from getting back into the main Rhapsody catalog and revamping your playlists or cranking out some jams to a song you wouldn’t even want to play in public. Rhapsody requires users who want to return to the main app to swipe the screen in a specific direction.

Just like Netflix Kids, though, Rhapsody KIDS seems to appeal to a broad range of ages so there will be a mix of styles together, i.e. Kidz Bop with Caspar Babypants, for example. So not all of it will necessarily be tolerable but unlike YouTube or Netflix, you won’t have to moderate for tween-age drama and dialogue.

Our family still listens to our fair share of CDs, with streaming music a popular second and the radio third (50-50 between satellite and terrestrial). We are dedicated Netflix Kids users which has become a well worn resource and I plan on giving Rhapsody KIDS a whirl to see if it has the same effect.  I will be reporting my thoughts back in a Kids Can Groove future post so stay tuned.

World Premiere: “Music is Everywhere” by Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips

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“Music puts the magic in this life. You can build a castle in the sky. Close your eyes and you shall see, it’s so simple as a melody. Music puts the magic in this life.”

Over the past 12 months, CJ Pizarro (aka Mista Cookie Jar) and The Chocolate Chips, have been producing music magic with a new single each month as part of their “song-a-month” project. The topics the songs have touched upon range from up close and personal, i.e. “Mama,” “BFF Goodbye,” to more general themes like holidays (“Jelly Beans!”) and dreaming big (“Hold On to Your Dreams”). With each new effort, it has been a treat to hear the gamut of styles Pizarro has made his own (from hip-hop to singer/songwriter to Motown to a whole blend). As a kids’ music blogger, it has been wonderful to be a part of the challenge that Pizarro has taken on, and witness the creative growth that has come out of it. As a parent, and a mom, I have been touched by the heartfelt themes and relevancy of the songs’ to my experiences with Emily; But that’s the power of music, and what today’s audio premiere is all about.

As an homage to the magic of song and dance and the notion that “music is always at our fingertips,” I am proud to present “Music is Everywhere,” the penultimate single in Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips’ song-a-month marathon. Opening with a flutter of piano and lovely birdsong, “Music is Everywhere” starts off like a dream sequence and continues on with rhythmic buoyancy in a  “Sound of Music inspired, rasta-flavored wave.” The vibe of this arrangement is a perfect complement to the song’s message which celebrates the power of music and the innate connection we have to it; The notion that music exists within us and all around us, whether it’s in a poetic verse, an ocean breeze, or that one perfect note.

Stay tuned here for a follow up interview tomorrow with Pizarro who talks about his experience with the song-a-month project and some of the influences and inspiration behind it all.

You can download “Music is Everywhere,” through the Bandcamp widget below. Be sure to check out the lyrics, and additional singles by Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips at their Bandcamp page.

Taking the Kid to Work – Guest post by Vered Benhorin of Baby In Tune

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Vered Benhorin of Baby In Tune has been featured here on Kids Can Groove before and it’s always refreshing to hear what she has to say. Her recent album, Hello My Baby, released earlier this year (and winner of a Parents’ Choice Gold Award), still offers a sense of comfort and support for me as a parent. This is in no small part due to the fact that Vered is regularly talking to and listening to what families through her workshops and classes. She also explores her work in her own life as a mom of three.

During the production of Hello My Baby, Vered was pregnant with her third child. This presented her with a unique opportunity that brought a dynamic perspective into her work. In today’s guest post, Vered writes about her experience with her daughter when they traveled across the country to celebrate the release of Hello My Baby. Though the below post largely chronicles her experience with her baby, Vered also touches upon what I grapple with a lot – my identity as a mom, and my identity in a greater sense related to my profession/work and my personal ambitions. It’s a delicate balance and it’s reassuring to know that others feel the same way. Vered is a no BS writer. I love how she shares her thoughts honestly and with a sense of humor, which is an essential tool for parenting.

Visit Baby In Tune to learn more and read additional posts by Vered. If you are in NYC you can find info on how to attend/hold a workshop or class, as well as view videos of her in action.


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Last April I went on a west coast tour. Like a rock star I strapped on my guitar, packed my amp, my microphone, and my cutest dresses. I also packed diapers, a carseat, a stroller, bottles, endless onesies, rattles, snacks, and wipes. A little less like a rockstar I trekked through the halls of the airport wondering what I had done.

I decided to take a 5 month old roadie because leaving her with my husband and two sons was not an option. Somehow it also didn’t seem like an option NOT to do the tour. I had just released my second album for families and wanted to get it out there. But anyone who has a baby knows that while jetlag is an annoyance for grown ups on their own, it is hell on earth with kids.

So every night as we played together in the dark at 3am I kicked myself for being hard-headed, overly motivated, unrealistic. But as we fell back asleep snuggling together in the cold AirBnB bed I held my little portable heater and felt her sweet breath on me, the breath of life itself, and we fell asleep smiling.

As I ran out at the end of shows to nurse her and lugged her carseat from place to place I felt annoyed and exasperated. And as I looked into her eyes and she flashed me a smile between shows I felt energized to do the next, and the next.

For me, having a third baby almost felt like a professional decision. I rationalized that I HAD to have the baby in order to give me material for another album. I had to experience a baby again in order to gather more first hand research for my classes and feel more inspired. I know that sounds a little crazy – having a baby for professional reasons? Normally a baby is nothing but an obstacle.

unnamedI feel lucky that my career has been able to develop with my life choices. As a single woman I wrote about romance and existential angst. As a mom my songs became about my experience as a parent and my perception of how my babies felt. I was also able to implement my studies in music therapy and psychology to help parents and teach them how to use music to bond with their babies. My life as a mom integrates really well with my life as a therapist/musician, but there is no perfect union.

To push my luck, I took my daughter with me to a bunch of workshops that were with babies her age. As a group leader my job is to facilitate discussion, be very aware of the group’s emotions and be able to support them through music. With my baby there at times I felt like I was less available to really listen fully to the group members. And yet at the same time I could identify completely and that helped me bring in the right songs, ideas and exercises for each class. Even in the most seemingly perfect situation the needs of the child conflict with the needs of the job.

photo 1So now that my baby is 10 months old I look back and ask myself – has she actually helped me professionally? I think the answer is the same answer any mom would give. Yes, she has inspired me. She has broadened my perspective in so many ways, and has contributed to my creativity, both as a therapist and a songwriter. But when I am with her I don’t want to be working. I don’t even want to be writing a song. Most of the time I just want to be hanging out, watching her play, following her lead, mirroring her vocals.

Every now and then it all comes together. That’s when she sings with me on the subway on our way to a group, or she inspires a new song (stay tuned for the song about our west coast tour) , or she teaches me something new about what babies need at each age. In those moments I am so happy that I have the chance to take my kid to work and even to make my work about my kid, even if she adds a whole lot more work.

“BFF Goodbye” – Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips

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The school year has started and with that so many emotions are aflutter. Change is never easy, and this time of year really tests that notion out. Big time.

One of the big changes for Em this year was not knowing who would be in her class. Our school posts class lists a week before school begins. No email, no letter ahead of time, just a piece of paper posted outside the office window at 4pm on one specific date. The anticipation and build up, as you can imagine, was intense. The most important and oft repeated question was, “Will my best friend be in my class?”

The idea of a BFF when you’re a kid is so intense and so big. Finding someone you jive with and then spending most of your formative years with them, through all the developmental hustle and bustle, is even bigger. The trust, the intimacy, the safety of knowing someone gets you (and is going to break the rules with you…sometimes) is sacred.

But what if they move away?

In his eleventh single (from his single-a-month release series), “BFF Goodbye,” MIsta Cookie Jar expresses the poignant and deeply conflicted feelings associated with having to say goodbye to your best friend. The song has a Dylan-esque vibe which suits the nature of this real-life story – MCJ’s stepdaughter Ava Flava and her best friend, Miss Mikyla, were faced with saying goodbye when Mikyla had to move away. “BFF Goodbye” balances the raw emotion of such a spirit crushing situation with beautiful ways of coping that make this track so touching. 

Em’s best friend Bea moved away. They were BFFs since they were 2-years-old and Em still talks about her, recalling the bee sting she got the day before Bea left and how Bea put a Band-Aid on her foot and gave her a hug. Em is now 6.5 and when I played her this song she just smiled and said, “like Beatrice.”
 

 
“BFF Goodbye” succeeds once again in offering a memorable embrace during a transitional time period. Check out My Letter to First Grade, featuring MCJ’s video for the single “My My My” which got me through the first day of school last year.

Bon Appetit! Beignets with Jazzy Ash

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61LPX1uSJiL._SL500_AA280_Ashli Christoval aka Jazzy Ash just released her latest album Bon Voyage. This fantastic album takes listeners on a trip to New Orleans where each track contains the region’s signature celebratory brassy sounds coupled with Christoval’s upbeat, jazzy vocals. Christoval’s family is from New Orleans so making this album very much touched upon her roots.

In keeping with this theme, and as a gift to her fans, Christoval is featuring a recipe for beignets on her site (thanks to Gina over at Shabby Creek Cottage) and including it in the album’s CD packaging. This is recipe that Christoval loves making with her family. She shares that “it’s an easy recipe, but it does take time…. a labor of love, so to speak. So, grab someone special and make some beignets together. Betcha can’t eat just one! Bon Appetit!”
beignets-1 (2)rSW3zISy1DeBrgpyLEt7z1Q8AA6IdvoRtwiQgvbNQvYAs we head into Labor Day weekend, I thought it would be fun to feature some fried, sugary, doughnut-ty goodness. We can’t wait to dive in and bake these. Give it a try! Get crazy, powder your nose (see what I did there), take pics, and dance your sugary pants off while listening to Bon Voyage.

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We’d love to see your baking photos! Share ’em if ya got ’em.

Get to know Jazzy Ash at her official site, check out a video from Bon Voyage inspired by Louis Armstrong and keep up with her on Facebook and Twitter. Bon Voyage is available via iTunes and Bandcamp.

As I get back into the swing of things dealing with some injuries and getting into the routine of school I will see you back here next week for some more music, creative stories, interviews, videos and all kinds of goodies for all ages.

Podcast: Ear Snacks with Andrew & Polly

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Podcasts, oh glorious podcasts. I am a big fan of podcasts and find myself reaching for them more and more as  a relaxing break in my day. Emily and I share a couple of podcasts that entertain us while driving. It’s a great way to sharpen those listening skills, gain insight and avoid groaning over bad radio (though we do love Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live).

Recently, a new podcast has made its way into our rotation. Ear Snacks is a new podcast by an L.A.-based husband and wife duo. Andrew Barkan and Polly Hall (of Andrew & Polly, of course) have recently launched an interactive audio series which, as they express, is for kids by kids.

I have tried several different podcasts and find that the style of the person’s voice, inflection and personality all make a difference. I can imagine it’s not easy making a podcast, especially for kids, that is able to keep adults and kids entertained. 2015-la-andrew pollyAndrew & Polly, have found the right balance with Ear Snacks. I felt like I was listening to a kid version of Portlandia. They both have the right combination of charm, appealing (and wacky) sense of humor, and versatility when it comes to playing different characters. They talk about topics, such as fruit and hats and incorporate them into the episodes through fun songs, activities, interactive dialogue (and some silly jokes) between themselves about the topic,
and they also feature special kid guests. They even go to a farmer’s market! In general, the episodes feel personal in the sense that the podcast is crafted in a way that makes the listener feel as though they are included in the experience, which is Andrew & Polly’s general mantra when it comes to performing live.

Polly expresses: “We make genuine connections with children and families through our songs, shows, and podcast.  Rather than aspiring to be rock stars, we prefer sitting on the carpet in the corner of our favorite independent bookstore and singing on Saturday mornings.  In that way, we can see kids light up when a song really works.  We sing directly to them and with them, on their developmental level, stretching their imaginations and their experience of music.”

Ear Snacks is best for kids up to age 7, and at age 6 1/2 Emily was engaged. Some of the recorded children sound as though they are younger which may or may not appeal to older kids, but altogether the content can sustain broader appeal.

You can enjoy listening to some songs from the Hats episode below and be sure to catch Episodes 1 and 2 of Ear Snacks on Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live (ch. 78), or through various digital sources such as iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud – Fruit and SoundCloud – Hats and tunein.

Hey Hat

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Everybody Hat Hat

Wanna participate? Just go to Andrew & Polly’s official site and send them a voice message, or you can send them an email and have your kid(s) interviewed on the show!

Andrew & Polly’s music has appeared on Nickelodeon and they are the honored recipients of the ASCAP Foundation Joe Raposo Children’s Music Award for their song ‘When You’re A Dog’ from their debut children’s album, Up and At ‘Em! The duo will be releasing a new album called Odds and Ends on September 25, 2015.