Check This Out: Turn Turn Turn – Elizabeth Mitchell with You Are My Flower and Dan Zanes

81UOKIKRSJL._SL1500_Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell have devoted what seems like a lifetime to making music; in particular, kids music. Each artist has been producing albums for over a decade now and whether they are singing their own renditions of classics or creating new ones, their music always brings comfort and joy.

In Turn Turn Turn Zanes and Mitchell deliver a basket of folk goodies. Although they have come together as a duet on singles before (“Green, Green Rocky Road” from Mitchell’s Sunny Day album), this is their first full-length collaboration, and the pairing is as natural as bread and butter!

Turn Turn Turn starts off strong with the song “Sail Away Ladies,” an upbeat jig that will get you moving and is fun to sing-along with.

Although this effort is a collaboration, there are songs that favor each artist’s style. “Coney Island Avenue,” one of my favorites on the album, is a signature Zanes song and one out of the 5 Zanes originals on the album. It’s a hip song that provides a picturesque depiction of what it might be like strolling down Coney Island Avenue “Counting all the barbershops 1-2-3/ And all the little markets A-B-C.” Alternatively, “Honeybee” is a signature Mitchell song, co-written by Mitchell and her sister-in-law Anna Padgett, which prominently features Mitchell’s delicate voice floating over simple, sweet lyrics.

I particularly love the asynchronous harmony between Zanes and Mitchell on “So Glad I’m Here,” which first appeared on Mitchell’s You Are My Sunshine. Zanes’ almost faint, echoing vocals emphasize Mitchell’s more prominent, angelic tone, making the words “so glad I’m here every day” as much of a definitive statement as it is a personal one. The song strays a little from the original with the fresh addition of a plucky banjo throughout.

Both Zanes and Mitchell encompass what it means to make “family style” music. Whether they are writing songs, recording or performing live, you can be sure to find a melange of instruments and a band (pun intended) of friends and family joining in. Turn Turn Turn, for example, was recorded in just 3 days at the home studio of Mitchell and husband, Daniel Littleton as they were surrounded by family, friends and lots of food.

An added bonus to the album are the verses sung by Storey, Mitchell and Littleton’s daughter. Adding Storey on tracks like “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” originally written by Pete Seeger, is touching considering Seeger’s wife, Toshi, added verses specifically for children. Adults and children will no doubt love Storey’s singing as she reminds us that there’s “A time to cry and make a fuss/ A time to leave and catch the bus/ A time for quiet/ A time for talk/ A time to run/ A time to walk.”

Other songs that showcase the effortless talents of Zanes and Mitchell is the joyful, “In the Sun,” which is filled with positive vibes as it reminisces on things to be grateful for. “When You’re Smiling,” is a wonderful song to whisper to your little bundle or sing along to as you snuggle with your big tot.

Turn Turn Turn is a joyful experience reminiscent of a Sunday afternoon backyard jamboree. Highly recommended for all ages. Digital samples of tracks, as well as the full album can be found at Dan Zanes’ online shop, as well as our affiliate Amazon. Below is another video for “Now Let’s Dance,” which pretty much speaks for itself in its intent. So grab a partner and get ready to dance, dance, dance!

Check this out: Singing Our Way Through: Songs for the World’s Bravest Kids – Alastair Moock

SingingOurWayCoverSqYou can’t prepare for life crises but when you are faced with one, keeping hope alive and maintaining your spirit can prove to be an arduous task. In July of 2012, Alastair Mock and his wife, acclaimed writer Jane Roper, were faced with the biggest challenge of their lives when they found out that one of their twin daughters had cancer. Clio, only 5 years old at the time, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. “It felt like we were drowning,” says Moock. “For the first week or so, my wife and I walked around in a trance. Then, I went home and got my guitar.”

Out of that musical epiphany blossomed a beautiful songwriting partnership between father and daughter. Moock and Clio spent their first month in the hospital singing and writing songs together. “Singing together in the hospital was transformative, not just for Clio, but for me. It reminded me how powerful music can be,” says Moock. Watching Clio’s spirit come alive as they sang songs like the whimsical “I’m A Little Monkey,” was magical and the driving force that propelled Moock to create Singing Our Way Through: Songs for the World’s Bravest Kids, an inspiring album filled with joyful songs that could touch children and families in the same way.

Starting off the album is an acrostic style poem called “I Am The Light” using the word “cancer.” This empowering opener is spoken from the perspective of a “brave kid,” standing strong, able and ready to make the best of the long voyage ahead. Following this song-poem is the funky “When I Get Bald,” a song that embraces the beauty of the changes one faces with this sort of illness. The song’s accompanying video is touching yet light-hearted as it highlights Moock’s knack for artful humor.

Moock, a Massachusettes based children’s artist, is a veteran musician with a long-standing career as a folk singer. First, playing for adults and then moving into the children’s genre in 2010 when his children were born. With his signature gravelly voice, à la Louis Armstrong, Moock combines playful lyrics with rootsy melodies, reminiscent of Woody Guthrie.

Joining Moock on this recording are some amazing artists that add a hearty blend of sounds. Elizabeth Mitchell joins Moock in “Take a Little Walk with Me,” a soft folk song with a motivational message while The Okee Dokee Brothers bring on a hootenanny with a lively rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “Hard Travelin.'” Blues legend Chris Smither adds soulful vocals in “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” while patients, former patients and siblings, collectively named “The World’s Bravest Kids” join in on “This Little Light of Mine.” And, considering the family as a whole, are songs like “Have You Ever Been Jealous,” featuring Rani Arbo and “Children Take Care of Your Grown-Ups.”

Singing Our Way Through: Songs for the World’s Bravest Kids provides a well rounded account of what life is like “on the inside” of cancer, while also challenging the fear and pain that comes along with it through the healing powers of music. Built on the foundation of love for his daughter and the positive effects the entire process has had on her, Moock has created a vehicle through which he hopes can benefit children and their families in the same way. Singing Our Way Through: Songs For The World’s Bravest Kids is more than just a collection of songs. It’s a companion that seeks to uplift spirits, while providing support and understanding to those who might need a little sunshine through the clouds of any troubling circumstance. A truly powerful album that any family can benefit from.

Highly recommended for all ages.

Singing Our Way Through: Songs for the World’s Bravest Kids can be listened to and purchased via the Bandcamp widget below or through the “Singing Our Way Through” store.

Donations from the proceeds of this album will help Alastair perform and distribute free albums to patients, hospitals and oncology programs around the country. The Singing Our Way Through project is not — at least for now — a registered non-profit, so your donation is not tax-deductible. But it is much appreciated, and goes a long way to help. Click here to donate.

55th Grammy Nominees for “Best Children’s Album”

The 55th annual Grammy Awards are coming up and the representatives for “Best Children’s Album” are mighty fine indicators of just how much the Children’s Music genre has to offer. Below you will find a list of albums and other goodies from this year’s nominees.

So, take a listen and although you may not be able to vote per se, you can show your support by perhaps purchasing one or two (or more!) of your favorites.

radio jungle cover 12cmykThe Pop Ups – Radio Jungle

The second album from Brooklyn-based duo, The Pop Ups, Radio Jungle brings listeners on a musical adventure filled with dance beats, creative lyrics and educational topics. Listeners will explore constellations, a world created with a box of crayons, counting and even some puppets! The Pop Ups once again infuse their sense of humor and musical talent into a fun set of songs. So take a journey through the wilderness and listen to Radio Jungle through the SoundCloud widget below, along with a video for their wildly popular single, “Box of Crayons.” Radio Jungle is available for download and purchase through the BandCamp widget below, Amazon and iTunes.

“Box of Crayons” [Courtesy of YouTube]

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The Okee Dokee BrothersCan You Canoe?

Just as the subtext on the cover says, Can You Canoe? is “A Mississippi River Adventure Album.” Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander made their way down the Mississippi River in a canoe over the course of a month. During that time, they paddled their way from Minnesota to St. Louis, writing songs inspired by the beauty of the natural world around them. With songs about camaraderie, bullfrogs, mosquitos and camping under a blanket of stars, Can You Canoe perfectly illustrates the brothers’ journey down the river. In fact, it could very well prepare you for your own river odyssey, should you be so bold. You can learn more about the Okee Dokee Brothers at their official site, where you can also purchase a CD/DVD combo, which includes the 15-track album and a documentary of the making of the album. Below are a couple of videos, a trailer from the DVD and a widget containing a few audio samples from Can You Canoe?

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Bill HarleyHigh Dive

Bill Harley is a master storyteller and certainly no stranger to Grammy nominations, being a two-time Grammy award winner in his own right. And now he’s back with High Dive, a hilarious collection of stories and songs about childhood. Listeners will find Harley emotive, engaging and suspenseful as he spins tales about a maniacal goat, a field trip gone awry, and finding out that perhaps mom is actually right, sometimes. Especially relevant to this time of year is a Valentine’s Day story with inadvertently “monstrous” consequences. High Dive is a hoot that will capture the attention of both kids and adults alike. You can listen to samples and purchase the entire album at Harley’s official site.

JumpinJazz-Kids-CD-Front-CoverJumpin Jazz KidsA Swinging Jungle Tale

A Swinging Jungle Tale is a mix of stories and songs about the adventures of a girl named Claire and her stuffed animal friends. What is impressive about this album is the amount of work the creators put in to make it as interactive as possible. The story aims to incorporate listeners by encouraging them to use their imagination along with Claire, as she travels through the jungle (which also happens to be her Grandfather’s backyard) and meets imaginary friends. The album’s cover art is bright and colorful, while the soundtrack was inspired by world-renowned jazz artists, including the legendary Ella Fitzgerald and improvisational master, Thelonious Monk, to name a few. You can read more about Claire and the making of A Swinging Jungle Tale at the Jumpin Jazz Kids official site.

You can listen to A Swinging Jungle Tale through the widget below. The album and its accompanying storybook are available for purchase through the Jumpin Jazz Kids store, as well as, CDBaby.

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Elizabeth MitchellLittle Seed: Songs for Children by Woody Guthrie

Mitchell brings color and life to her re-imagined versions of Woody Guthrie’s earlier recordings. The songs covered on “Little Seed” stem from two of Woody Guthrie’s children’s albums, recorded in 1947, called “Songs to Grow on for Mother and Child” and “Nursery Days.” Like Guthrie, Mitchell is a folk frontrunner and icon in her own right, being the first female children’s artist signed to the Smithsonian Folkways label and certainly one of the most beloved. On Little Seed, Mitchell very easily glides through some complex tongue-twisting lyrics, which happen to remind me of a few Dr. Seuss books, making it even easier to follow along than some of the originals. Mitchell’s voice, as usual, is soothing and clear like a serene lake and refreshing like a cold glass of water on a hot day. You can read my full review of the album here. You can learn more about Little Seed at Mitchell’s official site and view a couple of videos from the album below. Little Seed is available for purchase through Mitchell’s online store, Amazon (CD or MP3) and iTunes.

“Sleep Eye” [Courtesy of YouTube]

“Grassy Grass Grass” [Courtesy of YouTube]

View This: “Sleep Eye” – Eizabeth Mitchell and Your Are My Flower

45072hirescoverimageIn celebration of her 2012 Grammy Nomination for Little Seed: Songs for Children by Woody Guthrie Songs, Elizabeth Mitchell just released a beautiful video for the  track “Sleep Eye.”  It’s probably my favorite song on the album and I am so glad there’s a video for it.  “Sleep Eye” contains sweet, innocent images of little ones in a peaceful state.  The effects in the video are dreamy and the accompaniment of the flute and balafon create a perfect rhythm for rocking, swaying or bouncing with your little one.

Songs for the Season Part 1

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Now that we are past Thanksgiving, the holiday season is officially underway. Usually, we break out classic holiday CDs while stringing up lights around the house (and on my daughter’s dollhouse) and taking in the scents of our special candles. I’ve always loved the comfort of Ella Fitzgerald and Brenda Lee. Even Frank Sinatra and some instrumental holiday jazz have warmed our hearts on those cold nights. But for the past few years, we’ve added some variety to our music collection as some very talented kindie artists have released holiday albums containing both originals tunes and renditions of the season’s most beloved classics. The suggestions below are based on what we are listening to the most right now and those that we think your family will enjoy just as much. But, this is just the first list! There’s more to come so stay tuned for part 2!

You will find a YouTube playlist corresponding with the list of albums in this post, as well as the sample track “Jingle Bells” from Renee & Jeremy’s Sunny Christmas,” at the end of this post. Enjoy!

Laurie Berkner – A Laurie Berkner Christmas
We have been devoted Laurie fans for several years now and getting to hear Laurie’s very first Christmas album,  A Laurie Berkner Christmas, means this holiday season just got a whole lot sweeter. Coupled with her infectious charm, the songs are catchy and ready for some holiday sing-alongs. The album features 15 traditional holiday and seasonal songs, three of which were originally written by Laurie: “Santa’s Coming To My House Tonight,” “Candy Cane Jane,” originally featured on her 2008 release Rocketship Run, and “Christmas Lights.” Joining Laurie on the album is Brady Rymer in the spirited “Children Go Where I Send Thee (below).” Elizabeth Mitchell also joins in on the beautiful, folksy rendition of “Silent Night.”Kids will enjoy wiggling around, kicking their feet and laughing like they’re Santa Claus in “Santa’s Coming to My House Tonight,” spelling along with Laurie in “Jingle Bells” and learning about Gumdrop Joe, Candy Cane Jane and her horse with the candy cane mane in “Candy Cane Jane.”

A Laurie Berkner Christmas is truly delightful and one that should definitely be opened before Christmas. The album and the single “Candle Chase,” recorded especially for those who celebrate Chanukah, is available for purchase and digital download through Berkner’s site, Amazon, and other media outlets.

Renee & Jeremy – Sunny Christmas
Expanding on their 2011 single “Sunny Christmas,” Renee & Jeremy recently released a 6-song EP of the same name just in time for the holidays. Like other recordings from the Los Angeles duo, Sunny Christmas is like comfort food for your soul. The album opens with a sentimental greeting in “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” and you will instantly want to add your voice to the harmonious vocals and your hands to the rhythmic clapping. The title track, “Sunny Christmas,” is a bouncy pop tune that reminds us that the true gift of the season is spreading peace, love and happiness to those around us. It’s hard not to feel cozy and warm while listening to anything by Renee & Jeremy and Sunny Christmas is certainly no exception. So, as you string up your tinsel and mistletoe or sip a cup of hot cocoa, let Renee & Jeremy fill the room with joy as they wish you and your family good tidings. Sunny Christmas can be sampled and purchased through Renee & Jeremy’s site and Amazon, as well as other regular media outlets. And be sure to listen to “Jingle Bells” at the bottom of the post.

Mama Doni – Chanukah Fever
Doni Zasloff, aka Mama Doni has Chanukah FEVER! brings us a quirky compilation of Chanukah songs that is sure to shine like a brightly lit menorah amidst the plethora of Christmas albums on the shelves or maybe even in your living room. Expanding on her 2008 EP, I Love Chanukah, Mama Doni’s Chanukah Fever celebrates the historical and traditional aspects of the holiday through a variety of musical styles, including disco, reggae, rock and ’80s freestyle rap. The 14-song album includes original tracks such as “The Funky Gold Menorah,” “Latke Man” and “La Vida Dreidel.” Even Hanukah Harry gets a personal note. Mama Doni’s songwriting skills and knack for Jewish humor is sure to bring your family to tears with laughter this holiday season.

Chanukah Fever can be sampled and purchased through Mama Doni’s site, Amazon and other media outlets.

Bonus: Mama Doni’s cookbook, Get Cooking, was just released, and it includes some fine family recipes and a 29-song CD. Grab it while it’s hot!

2013 UPDATE: Check out for Mama Doni’s new releases, Mama Doni’s Jewish Holiday Party(DVD) and Mama Doni: The Acoustic Jewish Holiday Collection (CD), available beginning November 12 at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, iTunes, FYE Stores, See of Sound, and directly through Mama Doni’s website. This collection of Chanukah themed songs is set to acoustic and bluegrass sounds creating a warm, sentimental vibe. Highly recommended. See YouTube video playlist below to check out some of these sweet sounds for songs like “A Chanukah Love Song, ‘Eight,'” “Honey This Ain’t Money,” and “Chanukah, Oh Chanukah” which contains Hebrew and English verses.

The Hipwaders – A Kindie Christmas
A Kindie Christmas by Bay Area band The Hipwaders is a holiday classic and offers a unique take on holiday jams. The album features 10 original songs filled with a diverse array of sounds ranging from funk in “It’s Wintertime” to country rock in “Santa’s Train,” which features Santa coming down the tracks in a red hopper car full of toys, and the R.E.M.-like sound of “Wake Up.” Other songs include “Tinsel & Lights,” a nostalgic ode to festive traditions, and “Christmas Vicuna,” a humorous tale about a South American camel who dreams of flying like a reindeer.

A 2010 Honors Award winner from the National Parenting Publication Association (NAPPA), A Kindie Christmas is the perfect alternative to the classic carols of the season and will have your family rockin’ around the Christmas tree and beyond.

A Kindie Christmas can be sampled and purchased through the The Hipwaders’ site (where you can also find local holiday show dates), Amazon and other media outlets.

Dan Zanes – Christmas in Concord
Dan Zanes‘ fans will have another reason to celebrate the upcoming holiday season with the re-release of Christmas in Concord. The mini-album which celebrates the old Christian tunes that have been a part of Christmases in Zanes’ hometown of Concord, NH, for generations also has two new songs which feature Pulitzer Prize winning author Suzan-Lori Parks. Parks brings rich, soulful accompaniment in my favorite song, “Rise Up Shepherd and Follow.” The song was initially performed at a legendary local venue for people in need, known as the Friendly Kitchen. During a road trip, Zanes and Parks wrote “I’m Counting the Days Until Christmas” while reminiscing about their fathers’ experiences in the military. As with most of Zanes’ work, there is a feeling of joy in being surrounded by, creating and sharing music. Christmas in Concord carries the same feeling. Coupled with a nostalgic backstory, a well chosen collaboration and Zanes’ soft rasp, classics like “Joy To the World,” “Deck the Halls” and “Silent Night,” are sure to warm your heart as you snuggle and share your own stories with your loved ones. Christmas in Concord can be heard and purchased through Dan Zanes’ official site and Amazon, as well as other regular media outlets.

Ben Rudnick – It’s Santa Claus!
It’s Santa Claus! by Ben Rudnick & Friends contains renditions of traditional holiday tunes that don’t stray too far from the sounds of the originals but certainly showcase the group’s signature folksy rock style. The title track, “It’s Santa Claus,” an original on the album, is a bouncy tune that is just as jolly as the man in the red suit.
The album is made up of catchy arrangements filled with the instrumental stylings of the many “Friends” who play along with Rudnick. “Jingle Bells” is jazzy with saxophonic accents, and even “Greensleeves,” a song I obsessively played on the piano in my earlier days, gets a jumpstart with some fast-paced finger picking and accordion before it slows down toward the end.

It’s Santa Claus will provide your family with a fresh festive twist on holiday classics. You can hear samples and purchase It’s Santa Claus! through Rudnick’s site, Amazon and other media outlets. Learn about the inspiration for and the making of the album on Rudnick’s blog.

Holiday Playlist [Courtesy of YouTube]

What We Like: October Playlists

Our home is constantly filled with music.  It keeps us sane and often helps ease us into our days and nights.  We have been listening to alot of great music lately, both old and new, and I thought I would start to share some of it with you on as much as possible.

Additionally, since naptime has become non-existent, we’ve really been trying to take some “quiet time” in the middle of the day.  Music is a major part of making that happen.  Chilled out music = chilled out toddler which = chilled out mommy.

So, this week I am publishing 2 playlists.  The first is called October Fun Part 1 containing lots of fun jams that are useful for really anytime that is not “quiet time,” at least in our house.  The second one is called October Slow Jams which is a bunch of slower songs perfect for anytime of day that calls for a little unwinding (or easing into if you haven’t had your morning pick-me-up yet).

So, without further adieu, I present to you October Fun Part 1 (the first list turned out to be really big so this month might have more than one list) and  October Slow Jams.   You will find a mix of songs both old and new in this playlist.  Also please note that if an artist is not on Spotify, they won’t appear in the playlist.  Feel free to listen to the playlists as they are ordered or on shuffle or both.  Mix it up however you’d like.

I also urge you to visit each of these artists’ websites and either buy or download their music.  You can do that by simply clicking on the links next to each song below.

October Fun Part 1

Fanga Alafia – from Welcome to the Village, Aaron Nigel Smith’s first release with One World Chorus.  Proceeds from the sale of this album will benefit the Cura Orphanage in Kenya, Africa.
Bright Clear Day – Sarah Lee Guthrie and Family (Go Waggaloo)
Afraid of Heights – Harmonica Pocket (Apple Apple)
Sunshine – Vered (Good Morning My Love)
Eleanor The Elegant Elephant – Caspar Babypants (HOT DOG!)
In A Timeout Now – Randy Kaplan (Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie)
Germs – Ozomatli (OzoKidz)
I Am a Paleontologist – They Might Be Giants (Here Comes Science)
Make Me – Big Bang Boom (Because I Said So!)
Tickle Monster – Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys (Bubble Ride)
Green Beans Everywhere – Hullabaloo (Raise a Ruckus)
The Shark FighterSenorita Mariposa – Mister G (Chocolalala)
Sol Nal – Elena Moon Park (Rabbit Days and Dumplings)
15 tracks, 44 minutes

October Slow Jams

Bare Feet – Harmonica Pocket (Apple Apple)
Merry -Go-Round – Elizabeth Mitchell (Little Seed: Songs for Children by Woody Guthrie)
Mother Nature’s Son – Aaron Nigel Smith & One World Chorus (Welcome to the Village)
Underneath the Rainbow – Kira Willey (Kings & Queens of the Forest)
Even Bugs Are Sleeping – Caspar Babypants (HOT DOG!)
Time To Fly – Hot Peas ‘n Butter (Catchin’ Some Peazzz)
Goodnight Little Arlo (Goodnight Little Darlin’) – Charlie Hope (Keep Hope Machine Running: Songs of Woddy Guthrie)
Powder Blue Reprise – Renee and Jeremy (It’s A Big World)
Listen to the Horses – Raffi (Quiet Time)
Green Green Rocky Road – Randy Kaplan (Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie)
All the Pretty Little Horses – Laurie Berkner (Whaddya Think of That)
You and Me and a Bottle of Bubbles – Lunch Money (Original Friend)
Catch the Moon
 – Elizabeth Mitchell & Lisa Loeb (For the Kids Too)
Time – Johnny Bregar (My Neighborhood)
Sleep – Vered (Good Morning My Love)
15 tracks, 42 minutes

Sneak Preview: Blue Clouds – Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower

Elizabeth Mitchell is on a roll, just coming off of a tribute to Woody Guthrie, and now with an upcoming release in October called “Blue Clouds.”

“Blue Clouds” is another Smithsonian Folkways release and it is sure to be yet another beautifully arranged album.  With some originals, renditions of traditional songs and covers from David Bowie, Van Morrison and even Jimi Hendrix I’d say we’re in for a treat.

Below is a sneak preview of a few songs from the album, which includes the Bowie cover “Kooks”, a rendition of “Froggie Went-A-Courtin” and the title track “Blue Clouds,” a lullaby written by Daniel Littleton (Mitchell’s husband) for their daughter Storey when she was 3 years old.

Sneak Preview – Listen to Selections from Blue Clouds