Free Music Download: Summer Sounds Playlist

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We love playlists any time of year but there are certain times where it feels like the season dictates the need for certain kinds of sounds. Summer is one of them. Every summer, we look forward to creating a soundtrack that echoes the feeling of warmer weather, beach days, outdoor concerts, nature walks and road trip adventures. Even when the hot, sticky weather calls for more time spent indoors, we reach for things that are upbeat, breezy and remind us to just take it easy.

Thanks to our friends at Sugar Mountain PR, the following playlist will help kick-start your summer soundtrack. Starting today, the playlist is available for download through May 25, 2016.

Like what you hear? Click on the artist’s name to visit their site and learn more. Be sure to also check their shows/schedule pages to see if you can catch a summer concert in your town.
Frances England – “Explorer of the World” (Explorer of the World) 
Charity and the JAMband – “Sing a Summer Song” (Earth)
Raffi – “Garden Song” (Owl Singalong)
Aaron Nigel Smith – “Take Time In Life” (ONE)
123 Andrés – “Fly, Fly” (Arriba Ababjo)
Alphabet Rockers – “Players’ Life” (The Playground Zone – coming soon
Sugar Free Allstars – “Upside Down Town” (Self-titled)
The Not-Its! – “Bird On A Wire” (Are You Listening?)
The Whizpops – “Pika” (Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix Vol. 1 – out May 20, 2016)
Red Yarn – “I Had A Rooster” (Wake Up & Sing)
Okee Dokee Brothers – “One Horsepower” (Saddle Up)
Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could – “One Day By The Riverside” (Press Play – coming soon)

Tune in: Happy Halloween playlist that will lift your spirits!

FullSizeRenderAs the days creep closer and closer to Halloween, we are firing up our playlist and enjoying not-so-terrifying tunes as we parade around in our costumes and finish decorating our jack-o-lanterns.

Below the Spotify playlist you will also find a new video by Todd McHatton and a groovy new song from Charity and the Jam Band called “Halloween” delivering the most essential reminder: No matter what you’re gonna be for Halloween, you can still dance in your costume!

Enjoy!

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If you like what you hear, please consider supporting these artists by purchasing/downloading these songs through the links below. Please note that these links are also affiliate links which help support this blog.

Monsters” by Jazzy Ash (from Home)

Monster Boogie” by Laurie Berkner (from Buzz Buzz and The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)

“Dance LIke A Monster” by Play Date (from Imagination)

“Costume Party” by The Pop Ups (from Appetite for Construction)

“Them Bones (feat. Outtasite)” by Caspar Babypants (from Sing Along!)

“Always Be A Unicorn” by Helen Austin (from Always Be A Unicorn)

“Every Little Monster” by Todd McHatton (from Super Audio Sunshine)

“Gettin’ Down On Halloween” by Boxtop Jenkins (fromYou’re Happier When You’re Happy)

“Three Little Pumpkins” by Little Miss Ann (from Follow Me)

“Five Little Pumpkins” by Raffi (from Singable Songs for the Very Young)

“Scared Scare Crow” by Caspar Babypants (from Hot Dog!)

“Where Do Monsters Go?” by Ratboy Jr. (from Champions of the Universe)

“Confusing Costume” by Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights (from Good Egg)

“I’m Not Afraid Anymore” by Papa Crow (from Things That Roar)

Want more Halloween fun, check out the Halloween Digest featuring videos by The Hipwaders, Mista Cookie Jar and Play Date and a fun Halloween word activity!

Beyond the music – An Interview with a Children’s Troubador: Raffi

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Raffi is back! After 12 years, this children’s troubadour returns with his new album, Love Bug, which is filled with his rich voice, and uplifting positive messages. Raffi’s music was a major part of my childhood and is now a part of my daughter’s childhood which makes for a nostalgic listening experience.

I had a chance to speak with Raffi about what he’s been up to since his last album, the significance of songs on Love Bug  and how they relate to the role of technology in early childhood, and just who Raffi is, beyond the music.

Kids Can Groove: Congratulations on the release of Love Bug! My daughter and I are getting so much out of the messages mixed within the songs on this album. Compared to previous albums, Love Bug feels like a culmination of your experience and the projects you’ve been involved with over the years. It’s as if  were inspired by these efforts and then moved to create a new album that reinforces the meaning behind these causes.

Raffi: I appreciate you saying that. I think Love Bug represents an evolution of both Raffi, the children’s advocate, and Raffi, the children’s troubadour. With Love Bug, I think you’re seeing and hearing a blend of the two which you might say is true for all my albums. If you go way back to the Baby Beluga album there was a song on there called “All I Really Need,” and it had a beautiful message: “All I really need is a song in my heart/ Food in my belly/ Love in my family,” so I’ve been sprinkling positive messages in my songs throughout my career and we might say even moreso on Love Bug, which is all about love in the real world; the human touch and the connections with nature, whether it’s water in the well, or the doggone woods. So there are songs that make you laugh, songs that make you think, songs for little kids to groove with and enjoy, and songs for kids and parents to enjoy together. I’m so happy with the feedback I’m getting with Love Bug so far. We had a wonderful new 5 star review on Amazon.com and it just made me smile.

KCG: With all of your experience and recognition, you still remain humble and I think that’s a testament to how you move through the world, creating and participating in things that speak to your heart. Your positivity is conveyed to children through your music. 

Raffi: Thank you. For all of us, the opportunity is to grow in our personal lives and grow in our capacity to love, and to love respectfully. Whether it’s in songs, or in parenting, this is what we’re able to cultivate and practice in our daily life, allowing us to grow into conscious beings.

KCG: I’d like to return to what you alluded to in your first response where you expressed that there are two sides of yourself – a children’s troubador and a children’s advocate. The question that comes to my mind then is ‘Who is Raffi?’ 

Raffi: Well there are many aspects of me. There is the musical Raffi, where the music is very strong within me. In fact, I missed writing new songs and sharing them with the world, which is what led to the Love Bug recording after 12 years.

There’s also Raffi, the thinker. It’s not that you can separate these aspects but since 1997 I’ve developed a philosophy called “Child Honouring.” In 1999, I wrote 3 paragraphs for a piece called “A Covenant for Honoring Children,” which was  inspired by The Declaration of Independence, actually (laughs), the beginning of which says “We find these joys to be self-evident that all children are created whole.” In 2006, I published an anthology of essays called “Child Honouring: How to Turn This World Around.” I co-edited that volume and I wrote the introduction and the concluding chapter.

I love the various hats that I wear, whether it’s essay writing or blogs, which sometimes I write for Huffington Post and others. I wrote and published a book last summer called “Lightweb, Darkweb: Three Reasons to Reform Social Media Before It Reforms Us” and I highlighted the very important issues of young users being safe when they’re online. So in these various ways I enjoy being the children’s advocate that I can be because, especially in this digital era, I think children face different challenges than before, and the same goes with parents.

If I can come back to Love Bug for a moment, you might say Love Bug is the first Raffi CD of the digital era. We’ve only had social media for 10 years but it’s so changed the way that kids, teenagers anyway, communicate with one another. [Technology] has changed parenting in the sense that parents have to be aware of what their kids are doing online, now keeping track of them in two different worlds. I wanted Love Bug to be an album that fully celebrates the real world, and to remind us of what our foundational experience is. I am glad I had a chance to do that.

KCG: Social media is definitely a whole different animal when it comes to how we relate to one another these days, and I think that applies to all ages. At the same time, technology is becoming a greater force in our children’s lives. For example, more educational games are being created and some schools are even starting to integrate the use of devices as part of work in the classroom. Do you feel there are benefits when technology is used in this regard?

Raffi: In my “Lightweb Darkweb” book, I refer to myself as a tech enthusiast and critique social media and infotech from this position as well. The benefits are there for sure but you have to think about what the downsides are, too, of offering infotech to children at certain ages. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatrics Society both advocate no screen time for children 2 and under and I wholly agree with that. They advocate very limited screen time for kids 3 and up, and I agree with that as well.

Screen limits are really important because when you’re a little child you’re experiencing what it is to be human. There are deeply important processes forming in the brain, the mind and the heart of a young being. What it feels like to be alive, to be human, is best experienced, nourished and cultivated in the real world of active play and exploration with caregivers, family members, and friends in real life. Three-dimensional marvels of the elements of the real world, whether it’s sand, water, mud, rain puddles or a sun beam through glass allow young children to experience the rhythms of the real world before they are bombarded with the hyper-fast flat simulation of virtual reality that infotech offers.

Now, obviously there are some instances, especially for kids of special needs, where an adult is working with a tablet or some other computing device to enhance communication and a child’s expression. I recognize those advantages and benefits, but generally speaking my message to parents is the same as what psychotherapists are saying, which is “infotech can wait.”

It’s important to say why that message, that advice is being given, because as I said, we need to have children exercising their imaginative capacities in their early years. There’s no benefit, no leg up, to a child getting to use infotech at an early age. Technology will change, it changes every couple of years, and it takes no skill to use it. What takes skill is interpersonal relations and “emotional intelligence,” which is one of the 9 Child Honouring Principles, by the way. Emotional intelligence is the work of the early years. We want our children to be deeply capable thinking and feeling beings, and that is best practiced with active play free play and the interpersonal relations of those who love the child.

KCG: How do you see music integrating into this philosophy?

Raffi: Well, music, songs, that engage a child can be wonderful just the way an illustrated book can be a marvel for a child. When you’re sharing a book with pictures, those pictures come to life through the child’s imagination. It is the child’s mind that is making those pictures move which is a beautiful thing. A song does a similar thing, especially just the audio. “Audio only” gets the mind making up pictures based on the words and that is also beautiful.

KCG: Do you think that music also has the ability to effect change?

Raffi: Well, the music is only a catalyst. It’s the young child’s experience of and response to the music that is making the changes in their brain and to their ability to express themselves. Maybe the child is singing along to “Love Bug” and the song is inspiring the child to hug mommy, daddy, brother or sister because of the lyrics referring to where the hugs come from. What is happening of value in that example is in the response to the song.

KCG: What was your childhood like? Were you exposed to music when you were growing up?

Raffi: I was! I appreciate your question. I was born of an Armenian family and my birthplace was Cairo, Egypt. My early musical influences started with my father who was a very fine musician and a great singer. We used to love it when he sang at family parties. I also remember hearing the radio playing both the music of Cairo, which is the Arabic music, a Middle Eastern, rhythmic, festive kind of music, as well as European music. I had no screens in the first 10 years of my life and I think I ended up doing rather well (laughs). I’m very happy for that. Later on, when I was about 13 years old, I joined the Armenian church choir in Toronto.

I’d like to go back to the point I made a moment ago, which is that you don’t need an early introduction to technology to do well with it. I didn’t start emailing until I was 50. I didn’t start on Twitter until I was 62, and I think I do fairly well on Twitter. I think there’s a lot of benefit to waiting.

KCG: When you were young did you think about becoming a musician? Do you remember the defining connection that prompted you to begin making music for children?

Raffi: When my album Singable Songs for the Very Young was produced in 1976, it was so instantly popular that it made me think “Hmmm, maybe I have a gift (laughts) to make music for children.” As I played over the next two years, I was singing in nursery schools, libraries, as well as coffee houses. So many families came to see my children’s music that within two years I decided to concentrate solely on that. As of January 1979, I was a devoted, dedicated children’s entertainer. My autobiography, “The Life of a Children’s Troubador,” details the transition from being a folk singer, which was in the early 1970s, to children’s entertainer. The transition took about 2-3 years.

KCG: I suppose I asked the previous question because you have devoted a lifetime to being a children’s advocate through the Child Honouring philosophy, as well as making music for children. I’m interested in hearing about the passion that continues to drive you to be involved in these various aspects.

Raffi: Well, it’s my love of life and my love of children and the unique beings that they are. I often say a child is the best of who we are because the child is spontaneous, joy filled, pleasure seeking and meaning making. The child is the human explorer, the universal human. Infants, of every culture, regardless of skin color, ethnic origin, or social standing, are the same physiologically beings and it’s there that we see how much human families of diverse cultures have in common. These similarities inspire us to love one another, to cherish our differences not to fear them, and that’s a message that we need to hear and practice more and more as we hear disturbing accounts of violence around the world, whether it’s in the Middle East or elsewhere. The society that births children needs to be a child honouring society, one that respects the very young for the whole people that they are and the innate brilliance that they’re born with.

KCG: The song “Seeing the Heart” seems to speak to what you are saying here. You refer to a child drawing a “hate outtake valve” which just really underscores that children tend to see a world full of love and beauty and wonder. Can you talk more about that song?

Raffi: The song “Seeing the Heart” was inspired by a drawing made by friend of mine named Tania Godorojia, an artist and art teacher. She drew a black and white drawing of a human heart and her then 10-year-old son, Serge, came to his mother’s drawing without any prompting and started labeling various portions of it with words like “pump of flowing happiness,” “hate outtake valve,” “ridge of forsight.” He called the whole thing “The Mind’s Way of Seeing the Heart.” It was an astonishing array of words by a 10-year-old and then I thought it was such a striking combination of mother and son connection that I made that song about that drawing.

KCG: Since your last record did you continue writing songs?

Raffi: I did, I just hadn’t recorded a children’s album. I wrote a song called “Cool It” about global warming, and a number of individual songs, but they weren’t really for children’s albums so to speak.

KCG: You performed for Nelson Mandela.

Raffi: That one we did include as the bonus song on this Love Bug album. [Nelson Mandela] was such an inspiration. He’s humanity’s hero and I loved singing this song for him. He stood up to shake my hand. It’s moment i’ll never forget.

KCG: How do you feel Love Bug came together for you? In any different way than your previous albums?

Raffi: Actually, it came together easier than any album in the past. I think I was so ready (laughs) after 12 years to do this and the songs came beautifully and very easily. The whole thing flowed. It was so enjoyable that I’ve got another album planned for next year.

KCG: So we can expect some more Raffi.

Raffi: Oh! You bet! I’ve only just begun!

KCG: Are you going to be doing live performances?

Raffi: Yes, I will be doing select concerts. We will be posting information on http://raffinews.com. People can also follow me on Twitter or my Facebook page. There will also be information at http://childhonouring.org.

KCG: Great! Thank you for your information and time!

Raffi: My pleasure. Thank you very much.

Check this Out: Love Bug – Raffi

Raffi_LoveBug_LGLove Bug, Raffi‘s first album in 12 years, wiggles its way through your heart and beautifully delivers the best kinds of hugs and peaceful wishes. Raffi’s comforting voice picks up right where he left off, and right where we left off when Raffi was part of my daughter’s nightly bedtime routine. In fact, upon hearing the opening notes of “Doggone Woods,” she thought she was hearing one of her favorite songs from previous records. I explained that it is a new Raffi song which sounds just like the songs she loved when she was little and she responded with an affirmative “Yeah, just like the olden days.” It’s true, Raffi has mastered a timeless sound that has captivated generations of listeners, leaving a musical mark in the annals of their childhood.

There are several themes that run through the album, i.e. nature, family, play, but the main undercurrents are related to love and connectedness between family, as well as how children interact with and understand their world. Emphasizing this point is “The Real World,” a song which offers the idea of experiencing what the world has to offer outside of virtual engagement: “In the real world where the music plays, in the real world of love and connection/ In the real world/ Where the children dance/ In the real world where the sun beams down…In the real world where hearts are pumpin’/ In the real world.” What was interesting was that when my 5-year-old was listening to this song, she drew a connection between the imaginary world vs the real world by informing me that: “In the imaginary world there are superheroes and villains but in the real world we have police and bad guys like robbers.” It was pretty cool and rather unexpected to hear how Raffi’s words resonated with her in that way.

The most poignant and profoundly deep song, “Seeing the Heart,” captures the innocence of childhood and the propensity children have to see goodness, love and possibilities in the world. “Seeing the Heart” paints a picture of a mother and son creatively working together. “Mama drew the pictures/ Boy drew the words/ A mother and son connection.” What makes this song so touching is what the boy adds to the picture. “He showed a chamber of goodness, wealth and poverty/ He showed a pump of flowing happiness/ He drew a hate outtake valve/ A simple attachment.” Raffi nails the fact that children often feel the world just as much, if not more than, they see it. It’s as if they have a sixth sense allowing them to genuinely experience the world with their hearts.

Like most of Raffi’s music, the sounds of the songs on Love Bug are enjoyable and fun to sing along with, but what my daughter and I got out of this was a closeness from many of the positive messages nestled within each track. The songs on the album are upbeat, but we weren’t always moved to dance to them. Instead, we were moved to explore the meanings within them, together, resulting in some thought-provoking conversations. Although, if you are looking for a little movement, songs like “Cool Down Reggae” and “Pete’s Banjo” are your tracks.

And now for the verdict: After 12 years, Raffi remains an iconic figure that will forever remain a familiar voice for generations of listeners. Love Bug will bring the joy of music to many families, while also reminding us to live life with childlike wonder.

Love Bug is available at Amazon and Indigo.

Below is a video for the title track “Love Bug.”

Hear Raffi’s NPR interview here.

FREE DOWNLOAD: “Love Bug” – Raffi

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Raffi is coming out with a new album on July 15, 2014. That’s huge! Especially since it’s his first new kids’ CD in 12 years.

The album is called Love Bug and you can download the title track as a gift in advance of the album’s release. I’m just gonna put this out there…I become a child again when I hear Raffi sing (read: I sing like a 5-year-old). Raffi is still a charmer and I can’t help but join in the chorus with the other kids featured in his songs. His soothing voice brings me back to my childhood, and brings back memories of when my daughter was an infant and Raffi’s music dominated every audio device we owned. And when no audio equipment was available, it was demanded that my voice carry his tunes. I was totally ok with that!

Raffi tells us that everybody’s got a “Love Bug” deep inside them, which is naturally where the hugs come from. Oh Raffi! 🙂

To get the free download of “Love Bug,” follow this link: http://www.childhonouring.org/lovebugnewcd.html.

Love Bug is now available for pre-order through Amazon and iTunes.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Give Dad the gift of music! Enjoy a free Father’s Day playlist!

Sunday is Father’s Day and whether you are going on an adventure, giving a little one a shoulder ride or enveloping your cubs in the best bear hug ever, make it a musical day with the following playlist specially crafted by Beth Benz-Clucas of Sugar Mountain PR. Bonus: This playlist is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD through June 18.

The following list contains stellar songs by some rockstar kindie folks, as well as a prominent father figure responsible for spreading love and joy to so many children world-wide. There’s a whole lotta love in this playlist!

Below is the full track listing, as well as the artists’ websites where you can learn more about them, find out where they are playing, and find other ways to connect and show your support.

Additionally, if you click into each song in Soundcloud, you will find some fun facts about the artist and/or the song itself.

Brady Rymer – “Light of Love” from his forthcoming album “Just Say Hi!” –www.bradyrymer.com
Raffi – “Love Bug” from his forthcoming album “Love Bug” – www.raffinews.com
The Not-Its! – “Love is Love” from their forthcoming album “Raise Your Hand” – http;//www.wearethenot-its.com
Suzi Shelton – “Ten Thousand Kisses” from her award-winning album “Smply Suzi” – www.suzishelton.com
Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band – “When I Grow Up” from the album “Lishy Lou and Lucky Too” – http://lishylouandluckytoo.com
The Pop Ups – “Feelings Change” – from their GRAMMY nominated album “Radio Jungle” –  www.thepopups.com
Sugar Free Allstars – “My Daddy’s Record Collection” – from their new vinyl 45 release –  www.sugarfreeallstars.com
Eric Herman – “Elephant Song (Snail’s pace version)” – a new version of his hit song, with his two daughters – www.EricHermanMusic.com/store.html

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