View This: “Thingamajig” – Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

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We are loving this video for “Thingamajig” by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band! It’s just about as sweet as the Hershey’s candy bar that once shared its name. The band’s first live-action video is filled with vibrancy and aptly displays the magnetic connection between the husband-wife team, Alisha Gaddis and Lucky Diaz. Both are frequently referred to as the cutest couple in the kindie world, which is true, but they also bring a level of energy and positivity to their music which is infectious. You just can’t have a bad day when you listen to this band!

Listen to and grab your copy of this song here!

“Thingamajig,” is from their upcoming album, Lishy Lou and Lucky Too, which is set for release October 1. In conjunction with the release will also be the unveiling of a children’s live-action TV show called “Lishy Lou and Lucky Too.”

Like the video for “Thingamajig,” the show will be filled with brightly colored visuals featuring the characters Lishy Lou and Lucky Too who live together in a magical treehouse and are visited by friends and guests. Each episode follows Lishy, Lucky and their myriad of friends and guests as they solve various problems that come up. They’re a bilingual household (English and Spanish) that is always filled with music and dance, encouraging movement and learning through song.

So get your dancing shoes on and get ready to jump, jive and swing as the music of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band once again set the stage for the perfect dance party!

Downtown Los Altos (“DTLA”) Rocks featuring The Harmonica Pocket

kn_2_67Bring your babes and get ready to ring in the weekend the right way! Don’t miss The Harmonica Pocket in Los Altos this evening!

This playful, dynamic duo will be rockin’ out at the venue Outer Space in Downtown Los Altos at 5:30 pm as part of the Downtown Lost Altos (“DTLA”) Rocks Series.

Get to know lead singer Keeth Apgar in my interview with him and then check out their sweet video montage for the song “I’m Gonna Count” from their award-winning release Apple Apple and get a glimpse into what you can expect this evening!

Show Details:
FRIDAY AUGUST 23
Outer Space
359 State Street
Los Altos, CA 94022

5:30 pm

Check this Out: When the World Was New – Dean Jones

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Kids have so many questions and one of the things that I love  is getting asked a question that makes me go “hmmmm….” and then talking through the possible answers to that question. I am fascinated by the way our mind works and watching my daughter take in and process the world around her is a bit like magic. I tend to forget that so much of what I see and experience on a daily basis is something that she is experiencing for the first time. Music is one of the main mediums that provoke these questions which is why I am so pleased to talk about Dean Jones‘ new album, When the World was New.

When the World Was New, is a unique album which explores evolution, mother nature, the absurdity of human nature, community and of course, music. Jones illustrates how these elements coincide as he pensively wanders (and wonders) over topics such as how life was at the beginning of time in the title track, “When the World Was New.” I particularly love the lyrics “Well they always had music/ and they drew with sticks/ there was time for leisure/ and they could get their kicks without the tick tock tick of time.” “A Sparrow’s Soul,” a song that explores the circle of life and poses the lovely question “Does a caterpillar have a heart/ Does it quietly sing?” These questions spawned a long conversation between my bug loving 4 1/2 year old who once brought home about 10 caterpillars from the playground. Editor’s note: all 10 of the caterpillars safely made it through metamorphosis and we even discovered that one of them was a butterfly!

Other songs Emily and I enjoy grooving to are “Prehensile Grip,” a fancy phrase which gives meaning to why we can grip things like a pencil or scissors. It’s also a great companion should you find yourself rationalizing with a tot about why using a fork for those greasy buttered noodles is a really good idea (Ahem).  Jones brings the funk in “Snail Mail,” a groovy tune that reinforces the beauty of a handwritten letter. And “Outshining Nomads” never fails to get repeated plays. It’s a wacky tune about a traveling band of jolly circus performers. I particularly love the song for a couple of nerdy reasons. First, the composition is made up of all kinds of layered harmonies, whether it’s an added distortion during the melody or a haunting echo during the chorus. Second, I love how the catchy chorus “fifteen men on the dead men’s chest/ yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” was integrated into the song. It fits perfectly despite it actually being part of a fictional sea-song that was originally featured in the famous novel, Treasure Island.

While most of the songs are exploratory in nature, there are songs that send a message in support of peace. “Peace in the Valley” speaks about standing up for a particular cause against those who might disrupt peace in our world and our future (“…tyrants and despots/ get ready for a great big fall“) while one of my favorites, “Stand With Me,” featuring Shamsi Rhue’s gorgeous vocals, touches upon the idea that the future is uncertain but we can remain strong by comforting, respecting and supporting one another.

When the World Was New is an enriching piece of art for the whole family. Jones is a skillful musician who deftly creates an environment that fosters a child’s sense of curiosity and imagination. It is a rare gem in the world of children’s music and one that shines more brightly with every listen. Highly recommended for ages 4 – 8.

Clips from the album can be sampled via the SoundCloud widget below. Digital copies of the album can be purchased through CDBaby or our affiliate Amazon.

Check This Out: Justin Roberts releases Recess and speaks on why you won’t find it on Spotify.

UntitledHot on the heels of last year’s sonic dream of an album, Lullaby, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, Justin Roberts, returns with Recess, his ninth release to date. Read on to find out about the goodies that await you with the purchase of the album and why you won’t find Recess on Spotify.

Roberts’ music creates what I like to call the Pixar effect. Like Pixar films, Roberts’ music consistently appeals to the hearts and minds of both adults and children, contains incredible visuals delivered through extraordinary songwriting, and makes a commitment to bringing a sense of wonder and imagination into his songs. Similar to the relationships between characters in movies like WALL·E, Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Monsters, Inc, Roberts understands the kinds of relationships that define us – both familial and friendship based (whether real or imaginary). And when you add in the exceptional talent of producer Liam Davis and the rest of the Not Ready for Naptime Players, everything becomes illuminated.

Recess is a joy of an album. It’s Em and I refer to as “happy time” each time we play it. Opening the album is the energetic title track, which reels listeners in with Roberts’ signature power chords, coupled with triumphant horns, essentially mimicking the excitement of a barrage of kids emptying onto the playground. It’s the perfect song to blast in the car while shuttling around town. Although, it makes for wearing a seatbelt quite a downer as Roberts’ music basically begs to be listened to with the volume turned way up and your body in constant motion. Further echoing the carefree abandon of childhood is “Check Me Out I’m at the Checkout” which depicts a kid’s rogue adventure through the supermarket (complete with an announcer calling for cleanups in various aisles). Roberts touches upon the expansiveness of a child’s imagination in “I’ll Be An Alien” which features a misunderstood kid who imagines taking off into space. And, in “My Secret Robot,” Roberts brings a special mechanical friend to life while softly encouraging us to “listen to the beat beat beat” of his heart. I love how Roberts creates a story here that connects the robot and the kid as though they are one. Awesome song.

What continues to impress me about Roberts is how authentically he can capture and convey the emotions of the subjects in his songs. Typically, Roberts’ songs are sung from the perspective of a kid. However, in Recess, he expands his repertoire by taking on multiple perspectives. For parents there is “We Got Two,” which expresses the trials and tribulations (and joy) of having twins while “Every Little Step” gives voice to a man’s/kid’s best friend with touching lyrics like “Hey there kid/ I know you so well/ when you’re scared or sad or lonely I can tell/ Before you can call/ I’ll be there by your side/ there’s no trouble half as big as my heart is wide.”

While Recess is filled with upbeat, power pop notes, there are the quieter, more emotional moments that I have a particular soft spot for. Roberts paints a picturesque landscape in the dreamlike sounds of “Looking for Trains.” “Red Bird,” one of my absolute favorites on the album, is so raw and beautiful in its moving depiction of loss and healing. And while “School’s Out (Tall Buildings)” is more upbeat, it presents a touching dedication from a graduating student to their teacher. 

Roberts once again delivers a lyrical masterpiece filled with memorable melodies. Recess is more than a collection of songs, it’s a series of experiences which cover a broad range of topics that will appeal to listeners of all ages.

As part of his dedication to creating a meaningful and interactive experience, Roberts created a 6NCD12super cool CD package which includes a whimsical hopscotch design by artist Ned Wyss, a fold-out lyrics sheet, a colorful limited edition popup robot and links to a secret website with art projects and digital music samples. You can purchase the album through Justin’s website along with a t-shirt and coloring book.

When Recess was released I went back and forth between listening to the actual CD and streaming the album on Spotify for the times when I forgot to bring the CD with me in the car. Just 3 days later, I noticed that the album was removed from Spotify with the exception of the title track, “Recess.” When I reached out to Justin, he shared his thoughts on how streaming services like Spotify make it harder for independent artists to support themselves, ultimately making it harder for fans to experience the true value of what is put into making music today.

Justin explained:

“I came up with the idea of a pop up robot and a secret website site with unreleased music and craft projects to help encourage people to purchase Recess and not just listen to it streaming online. I think streaming services like Spotify and Pandora are great for music discovery, however, they are quickly becoming a substitute for people actually purchasing recorded music and I find that troubling. As an independent artist with a small but devoted fan base, I rely on people purchasing recordings to pay back the expensive costs of making a professional sounding record. Beyond that, sales of recorded music has been one of my main sources of income as an independent musician.”

While Spotify is known for its expansive music catalog, it has also acquired a reputation with several independent artists for not providing a fair financial return. According to Justin, “When a song gets streamed on Spotify, I make less than 1/2 a penny. When someone buys a song on iTunes, I make about 60 cents (which is great). If someone buys an entire CD at a show, I make $15. I think streaming music is probably the future, I’m just not sure how independent artists can continue to make professional records which include months and months of songwriting time, renting studio space, paying professional musicians, engineers, producers, artists, graphic designers, manufactures, etc. if no one is going to pay real money for those recordings.”

If streaming music is the future, how can we best support artists who pour everything they have into providing the best musical experience to their audience? It seems like a good start in this case would be to get on over to the Justin Roberts’ shop and get yourself a copy of Recess.

View This: “Los Pollitos” – Mariana Iranzi

HolaHellocoverA sweet little reggae song by New York based, Mariana Iranzi. Iranzi’s golden voice happily bounces along in this simple and interactive video for “Los Politos,” a song from her second album, Hola Hello. This is great for all families, especially those who are bi-lingual or are working on Spanish as a second language with their children (I’ve had a few families ask for recommendations).

You can sample songs from Hola Hello through Iranzi’s site as well as CD Baby.

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.

View This: “Rattling Can” – Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke

61SWz4FRpXL._SL500_AA280_Although, Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke just released the adventurous Pleased to Meet You, I couldn’t wait to post this video once I read a portion of the bio from their site. From their 2010 release, Rise and Shine, “Rattling Can” deconstructs a bottle of juice right down to the quarks that make up its composition.

Usually I like to add my own commentary, but I think reading about the song, in KWMC’s own words, really sums up the energy of it all.

“They had seen it all before. An overzealous fan rushes the stage, grabs a microphone stand and begins rocking it back and forth in wild abandon. Mr. Clarke, no stranger to pain, continues to sing and play without missing a beat as the microphone smacks him repeatedly in the teeth. But the year is not 1983 and the setting is not a dark basement club on the Lower East Side. A new millennium has dawned and Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke are performing their first official kids concert at the Garden Preschool Cooperative in Jersey City. The enthusiastic fan was a five-year-old preschool graduate carried away by the energy and rhythm of the “Rattling Can”. The show was an unqualified success and Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke felt they had finally found their true audience.”

Learn more about this dynamic duo at their official site and purchase Pleased to Meet You through Amazon and iTunes.

[Video courtesy of wildebor via YouTube]

Check this Out: The Happy Birthday EP – Kindiependent

51KCYmcyWYL._SL500_AA280_The obsession and excitement with becoming a big kid is undeniable and quite a force to be reckoned with, especially in my daughter’s case. It just so happens that Em will be turning 5 in January and she has been planning her next birthday party since she turned 4. All that is left is the music which, in our family, is the icing on the cake. In the past, I have carefully curated party mixes that included all of our favorite songs. But, they always lacked an actual birthday themed song. Until now! This time, I am excited to incorporate Kindiependent‘s first album, The Happy Birthday EP, into the mix. This six song birthday-themed EP channels the energy of the Beatles’ “Birthday Song” and pours it into a series of rock solid birthday jams that are certain to bring the festivities to a whole new level.

Kindiependent is a collective of kindie giants from the Pacific Northwest (Recess Monkey, The Not-Its!, The Harmonica Pocket, Johnny Bregar, Caspar Babypants and The Board of Education). Members of the collective meet regularly to share ideas, collaborate and hone their already finely tuned skills through creative exercises, such as the one that produced The Happy Birthday EP.

Co-written by members of Recess Monkey, The Not-Its!, The Harmonica Pocket and Johnny Bregar, The Happy Birthday EP was recorded at Bregar’s Brickyard Studio. Earlier this year, the groups engaged in a creative exercise where they drew names out of a hat to determine songwriting teams. Over the course of two days, the teams cranked out some pumped up party tunes. And, in true birthday party fashion, there was pizza to help fuel the creative fires of these talented kindie folk.

The Happy Birthday EP is packed with party fun for everyone. Parents will get a kick out of “Beautiful Mess” as it captures the chaos of a full throttle kiddie bash. Kids will get excited to add another candle on their birthday cakes as Sarah Shannon sings about becoming a big kid in “Four Candles.” Although, some parents may get a little teary-eyed (ah-hem) with the nostalgic references to earlier days of baby and toddlerhood (“When I was a baby I was really small/ I couldn’t even walk and I could barely crawl/ Mushy peas and carrots cause I didn’t have teeth/ Little tiny socks on the tips of my feet/ I had none/ I had one/ Then had two/ Then there’s three/ I’ve got four candles on my cake I’m a big kid now”). “Don’t Forget About My Birthday” sympathizes with birthdays that occur on or near major holidays while “Cupcake Revolution,” “Birthday Wish” and “Rock and Roll Birthday” may just spawn a kiddie mosh pit with their energetic power pop/punk elements. These three are the ones you’ll want to tie in with the cake eating portion of the party for sure!

Whether you are celebrating your own child’s birthday, a friend’s birthday, a pet’s birthday or even an unbirthday, The Happy Birthday EP is the perfect soundtrack to make your party a big success. It would also make a great addition to a goodie bag (although, you might just ignite a rock n’ roll birthday revolution). Highly recommended for ages 3 – 8.

Songs featured on The Happy Birthday EP can be requested on SiriusXM’s Kid’s Place Live and are available for digital download at numerous stores including iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.

View This: “Middle of Nowhere” – Elska

Elska-with-geysirElska is back with another video from her debut album, Middle of Nowhere.  “Midnight Sun” is all about the natural phenomenon that occurs during the summertime in arctic places like Iceland.  The live action video was shot on location, which means that all the gorgeous colors surrounding Elska are truly how they appear at midnight.  I particularly love how the midnight sun casts a golden glow on her face.  Simply gorgeous.

[Video courtesy of islandofelska via YouTube]

Singled Out: “Bright Leaf” – Underbirds

artworks-000041738599-ujs6vd-t200x200The Underbirds just released another single from their self-titled album.  “Bright Leaf,” expresses gratitude for the special gifts that come into our lives, whether it be that one bright leaf in a dark tree, a white star in foggy dream or a loved one.  There also happens to be a killer guitar solo in the middle of this song.

This track is available for download via the Soundcloud link below: