The school year has started and with that so many emotions are aflutter. Change is never easy, and this time of year really tests that notion out. Big time.
One of the big changes for Em this year was not knowing who would be in her class. Our school posts class lists a week before school begins. No email, no letter ahead of time, just a piece of paper posted outside the office window at 4pm on one specific date. The anticipation and build up, as you can imagine, was intense. The most important and oft repeated question was, “Will my best friend be in my class?”
The idea of a BFF when you’re a kid is so intense and so big. Finding someone you jive with and then spending most of your formative years with them, through all the developmental hustle and bustle, is even bigger. The trust, the intimacy, the safety of knowing someone gets you (and is going to break the rules with you…sometimes) is sacred.
But what if they move away?
In his eleventh single (from his single-a-month release series), “BFF Goodbye,” MIsta Cookie Jar expresses the poignant and deeply conflicted feelings associated with having to say goodbye to your best friend. The song has a Dylan-esque vibe which suits the nature of this real-life story – MCJ’s stepdaughter Ava Flava and her best friend, Miss Mikyla, were faced with saying goodbye when Mikyla had to move away. “BFF Goodbye” balances the raw emotion of such a spirit crushing situation with beautiful ways of coping that make this track so touching.
“BFF Goodbye” succeeds once again in offering a memorable embrace during a transitional time period. Check out My Letter to First Grade, featuring MCJ’s video for the single “My My My” which got me through the first day of school last year.
The saying goes “A dog is a man’s best friend.” However, in Django Jones’ case, a dog is a band’s best friend.
Django Jones is made up of Doris Muramatsu, JJ Jones and Nate Borofsky from the former indie folk-pop band, Girylman. The Atlanta-based trio, well known for their tight harmonies, insightful songwriting and playful sense of humor, recently released their children’s music debut, D is for Django. The primary inspiration and muse for the album is Muramatsu’s dog, Django, who is also the subject of several songs on the album.
By making Django the subject of many songs (he even has a voice!) provides a focus and allows the band to express their emotions more freely. Many of the songs carry positive messages filled with comfort, love and reassurance which is no doubt responsible for the album’s warmth. Whether it’s Django saying “I love you” to each member of the band (with the each member echoing the sentiment back), a lullaby called “Love You Like I Do” or the trio complementing each other after a song, there is a social emotional aspect to this music that is a nice model for young ears.
“All That I See” opens the album showcasing Muramatsu’s gorgeous voice as it encourages conquering fears and realizing your full potential (and beauty): “..Fight cobwebs with style, and bask for awhile, in your inner beauty...” “Smallest Breed” encourages self-acceptance and self-confidence despite one’s size: “… I have the guts to stand up tall…” “All Along” addresses Django’s nightmare with heartfelt lyrics “Don’t cry baby, there’s nothin’ wrong, when you wake up, I’ll still love you, I’ve been here all along.”
The rest of the album offers a variety of songs ranging from the action-packed fun of “P-O-P” in honor of popcorn (video below) to educational songs about the importance of breakfast, the bones in our body and germs. The trio takes things down a notch towards the end of the album with lullabies.
D is for Django delivers solid three-part harmonies that fill the room with poised assurance. The vibrant collaborative energy between the band members and their furry muse holds up the solid foundation upon which the album was built. Listeners will find their hearts warmed by the group’s earnestness and humor, as well as the sentimentality behind it all. It’s easy to enjoy music when it feels like it’s being made by friends for friends.
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.
Underbirds – “Trail of Hearts” live at Symphony Space via YouTube
Underbirds – “Brilliance” live at Symphony Space via YouTube