Fresh Press: 58th Grammy Awards Annual Children’s Concert 

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It’s that time of year again! A time filled with anticipation and excitement for the recording arts industry. As the 58th Annual Grammy® Awards get closer, so does the annual children’s Grammy nominees benefit concert. This event is always exciting as it brings a rare opportunity to see award-winning artists from around the U.S. perform under one roof. And it’s open to the public! For families looking for a special Valentine’s Day gift this is a sweet treat to indulge in for the little music lovers in your life (and for yourself, really).

This year’s list of Grammy® nominees for Best Children’s Album is unique because all five are independent artists representing a nice variety of styles including jazz, indie-pop, folk, and even bilingual Latin American. See below for more info on the artists, as well as a special Grammy playlist! Continue reading

Top 20 Albums & Honorable Mentions

Happy New Year! I’ve been tinkering for weeks about whether to put together a “best of” list. Lists have never been my thing, but this week when I pulled up past interviews, reviews and music, I was quickly reminded that 2015 was in fact another incredible year in kids’ music. So, let’s do this thing!

The list below represents a sampling of the 20 best albums from 2015 plus one from 2014 (because I included my picks for the Fids and Kamily Awards which considers albums between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015) and a few honorable mentions. The albums are presented in no particular order, and are personal favorites of mine and those of my 7-year-old daughter Emily. They appeal to families who love music, the adventure of finding more of it, and parents who want to foster a love of music in their own kin. This, for me, is the big enchilada. It’s what I enjoy most about being a part of the industry and covering it for you.  Take 10 minutes and sample a few songs on each album. I promise you’ll find more than one to love, regardless of your age.


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Pointed Man BandFlight of the Blue Whale (Interview)

[Flight of the Blue Whale] is eccentric. There is a meticulousness in the overall composition that captured my attention, in addition to the variety of instrumentation. Waltzes serve as segues, buoyantly carrying the listener along, while nontraditional objects are used to emphasize critical pieces of the story, e.g. Drinking glasses sonically illustrating weightlessness as a baleen whale takes flight.

 


Animal-Tales-Cover_smKey Wilde & Mr. Clarke – Animal Tales (Review)

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 cleverly matched to a variety of animal personalities. Each song is rich with fun animal facts, infused with 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.

 


51TlHTX-0hL._SL500_AA280_Big Block Singsong – Greatest Hits (Interview)

The musical variety of Big Block SingSong is tremendous and the lyrics are insightful and amusing, A block with a German accent singing in euro-funk style about hair; a monkey snapping off bluegrass-y lyrics about a “Two Banana Day”; and, with a catchy indie-pop backdrop, caveman named Dave pointing out that an erupting volcano is a hot mess. These are just a few of the priceless gems you’ll find in this collection.


Continue reading

Playlist: A fine blend of kids’ music that rocks!

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Photo Steve

 

It’s always fun to gather up some great songs, and tuck them neatly into a playlist. Today I’m sharing a bunch of songs (new and previously released) that we’ve been jammin’ to. It’s been fun to revisit some “classics.”

As always, I recommend listening to the playlist in the following order and then mixing things up with a little “shuffle.” If you like what you hear, click on the links below the playlist and consider supporting these wonderful, independent artists.

Daylight – Dream Jam Band from the world of Nickhoo
Easy as 1,2,3 (Feat. Ellen Brackin Sevits) – Jamison Sevits from Get On Down!
Vroom – Todd McHatton from Super Audio Sunshine
Nose in a Book – The Not-Its! from Raise Your Hand
Monkeys Driving Cars – Billy Jonas and the Billy Jonas Band from Build It Back Again
Someday Some Morning Sometime – Little Miss Ann from Follow Me
Outside Sounds – Papa Crow from Full Moon, Full Moon
Jazzy – Kira Willey from How to be a Cloud
We Got The Bite – Gustafer Yellowgold from Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wisdom Tooth of Wisdom
Block House – The Pop Ups from Appetite for Construction
Food Songs – Alphabet Rockers from Go!
Everybody Dance – Josh and the Jamtones from Bear Hunt!
Food Calculator – Alphabet Rockers from Go!
Lines and Dots – Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band from A Potluck
Rad – Play Date from Imagination
Nicky Nicky Knock Knock – The Dream Jam Band from Kidzapalooza Volume One
Don’t Ask Me Why – The Whirlygigs from Greetings from Cloud 9
A Fresh Start – Lucy Kalantari from Pockets Full of Joy
The Snow is  Falling Down – Josh and the Jamtones from Bear Hunt
Rattlesnakes – Walter Martin from We’re All Young Together
Not Too Young For A  Song – Randy Kaplan from Jam on Rye

View This: World Premiere – “Here Comes My Friend” – Underbirds

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I am pleased to present the world premiere of the first Underbirds video for the song “Here Comes My Friend” from their self-titled debut.

Like a modern day Simon and Garfunkel, Todd McHatton’s and Morgan Taylor’s intuitive harmonies give the endearing “Here Comes my Friend,” a breezy feeling as they sing about the fulfillment of a “scientifically, very naturally paired” friendship.

The video was filmed in beautiful Ojai, California, by the very talented stop motion animator, Caden Ghen, who made a killer trailer for the movie Man of Steel with Legos.  Ghen does a fine job of syncing the images surrounding McHatton and Taylor with the words of the song.

[Courtesy of Underbirds via YouTube]

Concert Re-Cap: Underbirds Premiere Live Performance & Release Party

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I recently attended Kindiefest, an annual family music conference that took place in Brooklyn, NY. The conference sought to provide helpful information about the industry while showcasing some amazing talent. I am going to write a separate post that provides a little more detail about what went on at the conference but one thing I clearly remember hearing about is that collaboration can be extremely useful.

One fine example of how collaboration can produce something pretty spectacular is the Underbirds.

The Underbirds consists of Morgan Taylor from Gustafer Yellowgold and Todd McHatton, who not only has released some wonderful kindie albums of his own, but is also the creator of Marvy Monstone’s Mysterious Fun Time Dream Band, and the wildly popular single “I Think I’m a Bunny.” Together their music sounds like a mix of the Flaming Lips, the Beatles and a little bit o’ Queen.

TheUnderbirds had their official world premiere live performance/release party at Symphony Space in New York City on Saturday, April 27, 2013 as part of Symphony Space’s Just Kidding series. I was more than lucky enough to catch it. Although it meant leaving the Kindiefest conference for a bit, it was an easy trade-off as these guys are at the top of our list when it comes to quality music and performances!

Standing in front of a screen with projected images of the outdoors, Taylor and McHatton sang original songs from their self-titled debut, which were filled with warm, joyful harmonies that reflected upon the beauty of nature and companionship. The duo also premiered a few new songs and each played a single from their own kindie catalogue. Taylor sang one of our favorite Gustafer songs, “Wisconsin Poncho” and McHatton brought his daughter, Hazel, up for “I think I’m a Bunny.” Seeing her sing live was so fun. She’s a natural just like her Dad!

It really was a treat for both grown-ups and kids. And for a world premiere performance, it didn’t take very long before everyone in the audience started to sing along.

I’ve spoken of the wonderful sounds coming from these two highly talented kindie artists before, but seeing these two sing together in a live setting was a real gift.

You can sample, download and purchase the Underbirds from CDBaby, Amazon and iTunes. Highly Recommended!

Underbirds – “Trail of Hearts” live at Symphony Space via YouTube

Underbirds – “Brilliance” live at Symphony Space via YouTube

Singled Out: “Brilliance” – The Underbirds

artworks-000041738599-ujs6vd-t200x200When you hear the words “let me hit you with some brilliance” you can’t help but tune in.  And with good reason.  Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold and Todd McHatton, creator of the highly popular “I Think I’m A Bunny,” have joined forces to become Underbirds.

Taylor and Mchatton complement each other really nicely which have earned them a place in my heart as vocal soulmates.  I am very much looking forward to hearing more from these guys.  In the meantime, enjoy their first single, “Brilliance,” which is a great indicator of what is yet to come.

Concert: Kids Can Groove Family Music Series presents Gustafer Yellowgold

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A unique, extraterrestrial event will soon take place in Downtown Palo Alto. Gustafer Yellowgold, a small, yellow, cone-headed fellow, who came to Earth from the Sun, will be making an appearance at the All Saints Episcopal Church (555 Waverely Street) on March 9, 2013 at 4pm.

Accompanying Gustafer will be Morgan Taylor, the genius behind the concept and illustrations of this radiant little alien and his friends. Taylor will be singing along with projected, animated illustrations of Gustafer’s adventures on our planet.  And you can too, because all of Taylor’s videos contain subtitles for the lyrics.

So bring the whole family along to witness this unique, multimedia experience.  It will be out of this world!

Purchase tickets online or at the door. Adults $10, Kids $6 (3 and up).

Take a peek at the live show demo below for a preview of  the fun that’s in store for you and your family.

View This: “A Shadow” – Gustafer Yellowgold

yhst-17367492320889_2244_50817444February is here and tomorrow is Groundhog Day. Although there is speculation about the validity of the predictions made by Punxsutawney Phil, aka the “the seer of all seers,” “the prognosticator of all prognosticators” or, simply, “the weather prognosticating groundhog,” tradition is tradition and tomorrow a large crowd will gather around the furry brown fellow eager to hear what their meteorological fate will be. Will we have six more weeks of winter or will we be blessed with an early spring? Who knows!

Either way, I encourage you to take a look at “A Shadow,” from Gustafer Yellowgold’s Year In the Day. “A Shadow” is a sweet little tune, not only honoring this historic day, but also offering a different perspective on shadows in general. Combined with colorful illustrations (as usual) and soft, ethereal vocals, “A Shadow” will bring a smile to your face, regardless of what the morning’s predictions might indicate.

Gustafer’s Year In The Day is available at Gustafer’s official site.

“A Shadow” [Courtesy of YouTube]

Please note that the video will only be available for the month of February. A Year In The Day is a collection of songs that represent something significant about each month of the year. And, in some cases, more than one day may be represented, as is the case with February. So, stay tuned for more Gustafer videos coming up, particularly one that involves pancakes.

FREE MUSIC: Songs for the New Year 2012

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Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again and I am feeling a little more reflective than previous years. As the new year approaches, for me, things like a connection to our world, togetherness and balance keep coming up.

As such, I wanted to put together a list of music that conveyed these feelings. The list below manages to do that, in addition to evoking a sense of hope and joy. I hope you enjoy them with your family as you reflect, snuggle together and prepare for a fresh start in 2013.

2273347SteveSongs – “Our World”

Families may be familiar with Steve Roslonek as “Mr. Steve,” co-host of PBS KIDS preschool destination. “Mr. Steve” typically appears in a short musical segment called Music Time with SteveSongs which airs before shows like Curious George, Clifford, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, among others. In addition to his PBS affiliation, Roslonek is an award-winning children’s musician with several of his own albums under the moniker of “SteveSongs.”

Just in time for the holidays, Roslonek recorded a song called “Our World.” According to Roslonek, “The song was inspired by a PBS request for a wintertime song to go with their digital holiday card. The card pictured Grover showing a child the moon and stars on a snowy night.” Roslonek certainly upholds the image he was inspired by with lyrics like “Last night the moon rose high in the winter sky/shining 240,000 miles/to light a path for you and I/snow fell like star flakes/and time/went flying by/thats why I know/and it always will be true/that the time I have/is better spent with you.” It’s a great song that you might just want to hear all year!

“Our World” is available to the general public as a FREE DOWNLOAD through December 31, 2012. After December 31, 2012, fans can digitally download “Our World” from SteveSongs’ official site.

Bonus: Roslonek’s eighth CD, Orangutan Van, is set to release on January 29, 2013, but fans can purchase it ahead of time, online, at http://stevesongs.com.

vtrien-345-2Vanessa Trien and The Jumping Monkeys – “Let Your Light Glow”

Receiving a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award for their October release, Bubble Ride, Vanessa Trien and The Jumping Monkeys are back with a holiday song called “Let Your Light Glow.” Available as a FREE DOWNLOAD directly from their official site, “Let Your Light Glow” was written by Jumping Monkeys’ friend, Julie Rama Winslow and performed and recorded by the group. The song contains Trien’s beautiful voice along with the harmonious accompaniment of the rest of the group. According to Trien and the Jumping Monkeys, “The song is meant to honor the changing of the seasons and to celebrate light, warmth and connection to the people around us.”

4098344775-1African Treehouse – “Holiday Time is Here”

African Treehouse is an ongoing project to bring African music to kids around the world. It’s the brainchild of the SAMA (South African Music Award) winning team of Graeme Sacks and Erika Strydom. “Holiday Time is Here,” with its “World Music” accents, talks about the different ways of celebrating the holidays between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. This song reminds me of the excitement I felt growing up while watching clips of people around the world celebrating as their own clocks hit midnight. “Holiday Time is Here” is an inspiring song, offering educational insights for children with a festive vibe.

The song can be sampled and purchased through the Bandcamp widget below.

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Gustafer Yellowgold – “New is the New Old” and “Fa And A La”

Morgan Taylor, the mastermind behind Gustafer Yellowgold, a creature from the sun, recently released a couple of holiday videos from his 2012 release, Year In The Day.  The 11-song CD/DVD set contains videos for each of the songs on the album.  A Year In The Day celebrates various holidays throughout the year starting off with “New is the New Old,” which welcomes the New Year.  The last track, available only for the month of December, “Fa And A La,” is a warm, harmonic ode to the holiday season, as well as gathering with friends and family.  You can view both videos below and sing along as the lyrics are displayed throughout the song.  Year In The Day can be purchased through the Gustafer Yellowgold store, as well as other regular media outlets.

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Charity and the JAMband – “The Light”

Every month fans of Charity and the JAMBand can enjoy a free song directly from the band’s official site. This month’s song, “The Light,” sounds similar to a lullaby. I selected “The Light” for its soft beauty and the powerful message. After reading Charity Khan’s intentions and feelings about this song, I realized that this song could bring a sense of peace and love to all of us as we reflect on this year and prepare for the upcoming new year. I believe Khan’s summation speaks the most beautifully in the following snippet taken from her site:

“The song is called The Light. The theme is that light itself (whether in the form of twinkly tree lights, flickering candle-fire, the sun or stars) is central to every culture’s winter holiday. And it universally symbolizes purity, a hope for peace, a desire for awakening and transformation, and the amazing opportunity we’re given to recognize the basic human goodness in one another — the opportunity to lay down our fear, judgement, and illusion of separation and come together, in love, as one. For deep down, everyone wants to love and be loved. The experience of sharing love brings us our greatest joy, and the fear of separation from love is the source of our deepest pain. This truth is at the heart of all that is both tragic and transformative about humanity. And it carries within it the path to a peaceful world.”

You can read more in-depth about “The Light,” sample and purchase it here. The song can also be streamed and downloaded through the Bandcamp widget below.