Friday, February 27, 2009

The Hipwaders Take You Underwater

The new video from The Hipwaders finds Rat the Cat far beneath the ocean's surface...I'd love to hear this song covered by The Flaming Lips!

The Hipwaders - "Cat In a Bathysphere"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New video from Caspar Babypants!

Here's Chris Ballew's (Caspar Babypants) latest video from his kids' album debut Here I Am!:

Caspar Babypants - "Monkey River"

Monday, February 23, 2009


With only his overdubbed acoustic guitars, some light percussion, a little bass guitar, and lots of harmonies, Dano (aka Dan Scot Parr) creates his self-titled kids' debut, an album full of catchy, quiet, melodic, funny tunes about space men, cats, dreams, and the lost city of Atlantis.

Dan Parr is a teacher, musician, and songwriter from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area who released two CDs in the past for grownups, 2002's It Seems, and 2004's Dan Scot Parr, and then decided to give the kids' music route a try. Dano boats 13 tracks of acoustic Americana for families, plus cover art by Jeffrey Miranda that's a little reminiscent of Jose Feliciano's 1968 album Feliciano!

The obvious "hit single" on Dano is "Groovy Spacemen," a wistful pop tune about singing, dancing intergalactic visitors. Check out the ingenious wordplay of "The Animal Cliche Song," and the inevitable sing-along classic "Ugly Toes." Parr's melodic sense is particularly evident on the tuneful coda of the dream saga "Weird Purple Birds," and on the scat breakdown of "Big Daddio." And just right for quiet time are the laid-back grooves of "The Islands," the little bit McCartney-little bit Nilsson-inspired "Back Porch Symphony," and the lullaby "Lovely Dreams."

If you like the breezy pop of The Terrible Twos, you'll dig Dan Parr's children's music debut, Dano. And if you're in the east Texas area, try to check out Parr's intriguingly titled children's program, "Tall Tales, Silly Stories and Memorable Melodies: Using Songs to Teach Life's Lessons."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

And the Hits Just Keep On Comin'...

Stop with the awesome Readeez tunes already, Michael Rachap! I'm gettin' jealous!

Michael Rachap's READEEZ - "Little Song"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Because the Kids Know Where It's At

Y'know, part of the thrill of introducing kids to music is showing them how fun and exciting and powerful it is to play live. Dig this 1977 performance of "In the City" by The Jam on "So It Goes," hosted by Tony Wilson. Then try and keep your young ones from picking up their Rickenbackers and rockin' out.

The Jam - "In the City"

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Music Editor...

Friday, February 13, 2009

***Betsy Stern***

Minimalist kids' music at its best! Betsy Stern, a Berkeley, California native, uses her voice and one instrument per song to create a collection of jazzy, earthy, quiet tunes for the whole family.

On her debut children's album, Foyo, Stern plays acoustic guitar, upright bass, and requinto guitar (a smaller-scale guitar), to make "world music" in the most global sense possible: Foyo features songs from France, Spain, Australia, and Haiti, as well as traditional American Folk tunes, all performed in Stern's unique style.

Foyo includes familiar kiddie songs like "Fooba Wooba John" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep," as well as traditional classics like "Crawdad Song," "Mouse on the Hill," and "Cindy." But you haven't heard "This Old Man" until you hear it performed with only vocals and an upright bass.

Check out Stern's stellar fretwork on the title tune, a patois French song from Haiti. The tune was also included on the soundtrack of the 1962 South African musical Wait a Minim! Other standouts are Will D. Cobb and Ren Shields' 1906 dancehall ditty "Waltz Me Around Again Willie;" "Jamaica Farewell," made famous by Harry Belafonte on his 1956 album Calypso; the French folk tune "Câdet Rousselle;" and a couple of classics from Down Under, "Kookabura" and "Waltzing Matilda."

Betsy Stern's Foyo is a great introduction to obscure gems and unique reworkings of familiar tunes. Quality music for young and old alike.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day from The Hipwaders!

Here's a new video from The Hipwaders, just in time for Valentine's Day. The song is called, astonishingly enough, "Valentine," and come from The Hipwaders' self-titled debut album. The video was created by Thomas Ferrick of Tronix Productions.

The Hipwaders - "Valentine"

Monday, February 09, 2009

Celebrate Fab-ruary with Beatles Music for Kids!

In honor of the 45th anniversary of The Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, I've compiled two lists of Fab Four music over at to share with your little ones. You can doze to the Top 10 Beatles Lullaby Albums, then Sing Along with The Beatles to your heart's content. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Friday, February 06, 2009

***Steven Courtney Band***

The third in this week's series of Americana albums for kids, Steven Courtney's Rolling Home is a rootsy mix of influences like Jerry Garcia, mid-70s Bob Dylan, Dan Zanes, and Wilco. This Pennsylvania-based musician has been making music for many years, and Rolling Home is his second CD made specifically for kids.

The band includes Mike McElravy on dobro, acoustic, and steel guitar; Frank Portaro on upright bass, electric bass, and trumpet; Alden Hoke on banjo, fiddle, and electric piano; Doug Walton on acoustic guitar, 6-string banjo, and mandolin; and Steven himself on guitar, percussion, lead vocals, and lots of other stuff, with the whole band lending a hand on backup vocals.

Check out the blues rock of "Strange Old Cat" and "Little Rocking Band;" the super singalong "Big Boatload of Bananas;" and the Americana folk rock of "Happy Anniversary," "Hey Mockingbird!" and "Rolling Home." But it's not all rambunctious rock and roll on Rolling Home: the introspective "Walk with the Wise," the lullaby "Mister Rabbit," and the spooky "Scarecrow" slow down the pace a little. The swaying shanty "Sail Away Lady, Sail Away," the word-filled "Elmer's Electric Tricycle," and the silly "Three Monkey Pirates" round out the album.

Even though Rolling Home is classified as a "kids'" album, it's actually a great CD for the whole family, as is Courtney's other children's album, "Monkey Business as Usual." In fact, most of his music can be enjoyed by listeners of all ages, including the old-school gospel folk rock CD Hootenanny in the Sky, and the Americana country rock albums Momma's Homemade Soup and 25 Cent Songs.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

***Matthew Clough & The Cloud Nines***

Another great kids' Americana album! Matthew Clough is a special education teacher based in northern California, who just happens to be involved in the west coast Country Rock scene. On Clough's debut children's CD, he enlists the talents of Butch Boswell (Virgil Cane, The Mother Hips) on string instruments, Mark Folkrod (Virgil Cane) on drums, and Sam Sharp (Joose) on bass. Together they're known as Matthew Clough and The Cloud Nines, and on The Sky's The Limit they turn in a rootsy, rustic, rockin' bunch of songs for kids and their families.

Standout tunes include the Byrds-y "Sing a Song Silly," the shufflin' "Cuckoo Crush," the country funk of the Band-like "Copy Cat," and the sentimental "Happy Father's Day," a tune that Gram Parsons might've sung. And check out the Shel Silverstein-influenced cautionary tale "Flickering Monster," the ringing "Guess I'll Move to the Moon," the sleepy dobro guitar of "What Do Clouds Dream About," and the pedal steel-painted "Digging Daisy."

Here's the cool thing: Clough is using the attention and exposure gained from live performances and album sales to promote causes close to his heart, like Ability First Sports Camp, Sustainable Haiti, and Champ Camp. Music does, indeed, change the world.

Monday, February 02, 2009

***Mo Phillips***

I'm diggin' the lo-fi movement goin' on in Kids' Music right now: Kimya Dawson's Alphabutt, String Bean Jones' Live from the Bathtub, Mr. David's Jump in the Jumpy House, and now Mo Phillips' Train Beard. Now, lo-fi doesn't mean low quality, as evidenced by the great material and performances on all the above CDs. It just means presenting songs from a different angle, thinking outside the musical box, so to speak. And who better to spring this "experimental" approach on than kids, the most open-minded and receptive audience to all things different, sublime, weird, magical, and ridiculous.

Mo Phillips is a musician based in Portland, OR, who has released a couple of Americana/Neil Young-like albums for grownups (The Boat, 2004; Homemade, 2006), and Train Beard follows his stylistic leanings, except with kid subjects and lyrics this time 'round. Guitars, harmonica, organ, and the occasional bongo provide the majority of the instrumentation on Train Beard, supplemented by Phillips' down-to-earth vocals.

"Supa Dupa Race Car" sounds like Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show singing one of those songs Shel Silverstein used to give them; and "I Ain't Gonna Clean My Room" is exactly the kind of poem Silverstein loved to write, as a kid's excessively messy room starts to rebel against him. The title tune is, or should become, a bona fide folk classic: a train travels from head to foot in this a cappella song, sounding like a long-lost Appalachian field holler.

The guitar/organ nonsense song "Cat and Dog" boats lines like "D-O-G dog riding on a bike / B-I-K-E bikin' through the night," while "Change Like a Cloud" uses organ, guitar, and fuzz bass to convey a sense of dreamy imagination. "Leche" is a short nonsense song en Espanol, and "My Ninja Move" battles bedtime fears via a Dave Matthews-like tune.

Other standouts include the playful folk song "Best Friends" and the silly beat poem "The Garbage Man." The only tune that features heavy percussion is "Pizza in a Cup," a drum machine-driven song about a very specific way of serving a slice. That tune then fades into a live performance of the same song, which closes out the album.

Great kids' debut from a unique talent. Check out Train Beard and encourage Mo to keep up the good work!