Check This Out: American Playground – Putumayo Kids

61C4EhMbbXLSince 1999, the fine folks at Putumayo Kids have been curating some of the most wonderful collections of world music, aiming to introduce children to other cultures through song.

American Playground, the group’s latest release, delivers classic American sing-alongs through a diverse array of styles. While many of the songs are familiar folk tunes, other genres such as blues, gospel, country and jazz are also represented.

Like a delicious slice of apple pie, American Playground, serves up time tested renditions of familiar tunes such as “This Land Is Your Land,” “This Little Light Of Mine,” “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain,” and “Oh, Susannah.”

Some of our favorite kindie artists are featured on American Playground starting with Johnny Bregar, who recorded a new version of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain” specifically for American Playground. Other artists like Elizabeth Mitchell, Dan Zanes and Randy Kaplan are also featured. I especially love the jazzy, upbeat “Blue Skies,” delivered by Texas based Country-western artist Aaron Watson (with Elizabeth McQueen). Watson’s and McQueen’s sunny vocals make you want to throw a picnic blanket under a shady tree, sip on some lemonade and soak up the fresh summer air.

“We All Need More Kindness In This World,” an original written by Guy Davis, delivers a wonderful message while capturing the essence of early American folk. Hearing Buck Howdy’s upbeat, country version of “You Are My Sunshine” breathes new life into a song that was introduced to me when I was a child and one that I have sung to Em since she was born. It’s also the perfect tempo for kicking up your heels and swingin’ around with a little partner or two.

Once again Putumayo Kids delivers a quality collection of songs. American Playground is filled with timeless classics that span generations. In addition to enjoying the sounds that were so influential in the history of American music, families who purchase the album can enjoy a colorful, star-spangled booklet containing 20 pages of information about each artist, along with the origin of each song. Recommended for all ages!

Take a listen to American Playground through Putumayo Kids’ Bandcamp widget below. You can also grab a copy from Amazon.

Note: Last year, Putumayo Kids announced the first-ever digital availability of selected recordings, including American Playground, available for purchase through the LeapFrog App Center. Additionally, those with satellite radio can enjoy The World Playground with Putumayo, featuring Putumayo Kids’ music, on Saturdays at 10 a.m. EST through Channel 78 (Kids Place Live).

Giveaway: The folks at Putumayo Kids have generously offered to give away a copy of this American Playground to one lucky reader.  Click here to win.

FREE Download: Summer 2013 Rockin’ Kindie Road Trip Playlist

Summer is a comin’ and having a soundtrack to go with it is an absolute must! The good news is that from now until June 1 you can download 13 rockin’ Kindie tracks for FREE. Normally, I would be wary of the number 13, but in this case I can honestly say 13 is a magic number!

Presented by BunchFamily and cleverly curated by Beth Benz-Claus, this list ebbs and flows like a fine mixtape (or digital playlist, in this case) should. You’ll find a variety of styles some of which include Americana, good ole Rock n’ Roll and even some Soul. Check the list and download now before time runs out!

“Wander Round the World” – Key Wilde and Mr Clarke from Pleased to Meet You
“Train Song” – Charlie Hope from I’m Me
“Outshining Nomads” – Dean Jones from When the World Was New
“Slow” – Trout Fishing in America from an unreleased album due out this summer.
“Hard Travelin'” – Alastair Moock (featuring The Okee Dokee Brothers) from an unreleased album due out this summer.
“She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” – Johnny Bregar from Putumayo Kids American Playground
“Honk Honk” – The Monkey Bunch from Power to the Little People
“My Green Kite” – Peter Himmelman from My Green Kite
“Let’s Skateboard” – The Not-Its! from KidQuake!
“Kilimanjaro” – Shine and the Moonbeams from unreleased album due out this summer
“Turn Around” – Cat Doorman from Cat Doorman Songbook
“Fruit Jar” – Justin Roberts from Pop Fly
“Down at the Sea Hotel” – The Secret Mountain

Check It Out: Elizabeth Mitchell – You Are My Sunshine

“So glad I’m Here Every Day” is how this album first opens up and, frankly, that is really how I feel when I listen to this album. And really anything that Elizabeth Mitchell produces. She has such a sweet way of luring me and my daughter into every word she sings. It’s beautiful music.

Although this is her second release, and she has done several releases and projects since then, I decided to review this album first since I am new at reviewing and it was my very first love, er listen, to Elizabeth Mitchell.  Plus, we have been listening to it a lot lately.

This album is wonderful in so many ways. First off, it covers various styles of music and is diverse enough that parents may just find themselves listening to and/or singing songs from this album when the kids are not around. And not just because those darn kids songs don’t leave our heads, but because they are cool enough to be a part of the grown-up community.  The tempo of the album starts off upbeat and slowly winds down with some great folk numbers.

Let’s start with the alphabet song. Yes, you’ve heard and sung this a million times, but when it’s put into a hip, dub-reggae composition such as Mitchell has done here it works, and works really well.  Then there is the fun Bo Diddley which is set to the tune of Bow Wow’s “I Want Candy.”  Brings back such memories for me.  I still remember my Dad coming home with their LP.

The album contains a number of covers the likes of which include Ladybug Picnic, featured on Sesame Street and 3 is the Magic Number from The Magic School Bus. There are also other covers like Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad which was sung by likes of Woody Guthrie and even the Grateful Dead.

I have several favorites on this album but instead of listing them here, I would just urge you to visit her site, listen to her album and get into the groove.

You can get to know Elizabeth Mitchell at her site You Are My Flower and even listen to the album (and others) here.

This album probably works best for kids under 6.  It’s been a toddler favorite in our household since E was a teeny little monster at 1.5 yrs old.  Enjoy!