NEW CD’s you should check out!

Fire Engineering School is over and I am back to a normal like schedule.  That time allows me to once again write, make and listen to music.  Been quieter than usual around here but I got a couple of CD’s worth sharing. These are two CD’s I really liked this time around…


Monsters - Book smallerYAY! - Seanster and the Monsters.  Sean and I are friends so I have been privyYAYCover to early tracks and I was very excited to finally hear the finished product.  It does not disappoint.  Yay Dolphins jump starts the music party (who knew they protected us from Monsters!) and They Can’t (my other favorite) is smart and funny with a funky groove.  This is a CD full of fun for the whole family. One of the best CD’s I’ve heard this year.   On  May 1st  go support a Canadian kindie artist when it becomes available.


Bari_ElbowBand_300dpiThe Apple Tree and The Honey Bee - Bari Koral Family Band.  This time BariBariKoral_ATHB_W139_FIN_o who is pretty well known in the kindie world headed down to Nashville to record this CD with Brad Jones (Alex the Great Recording).  The first half has a joyous pop feel with Apple Tree and Birthday.  But don’t count out the country sound as the latter half has a definite Nashville feel with songs like Fall Down and Back to the Farm.  It’s a high quality fun CD worth a purchase when it becomes available on May 13th.

So go support independant kids music and be sure to check back as we delve into some more Song and the Process and other fun stuff next week!

The Song and the Process. Grandma Said by Story Laurie

Story LaurieThe journey in which Story Laurie (2013 Best Children’s Performer, Hudson Valley Magazine) became Story Laurie is a tale unto itself. There shall be a slight reveal here because of it’s connection to one of my favorite songs Grandma Said but it is definitely a yarn spinner for another time… What caught me about this song was the deep rich vocals of Lauri McIntosh and the depth and simplicity of the uke led three piece band (ukulele, bass, drums) backing her up. The song itself is a sweet conversation between the Grandma and a child who is asking many questions and grandma doesn’t have the answers but really admires the questions.  The lyrics came from “Grandma” Avis who was a legendary storyteller in Woodstock, NY.  Avis was a mentor, friend and family to Laurie (and many others) who helped guide her in her storytelling craft and endeavors. After Avis passed away too soon from cancer.  While Laurie was dealing with her grief she took the funeral bookmark which instead of a proverb or scripture passage had a poem written by GrandmaCD-Story-Laurie Avis called… Grandma Said.  She then put those words to music and added just a chorus keeping the poem almost entirely intact.  The song is simple, sweet and sentimental without the sapp (I’m not even gonna mention it was recorded with Dean Jones.) Anyone who ever listened to a child ask questions knows the feeling.  This is a departure from her usual songwriting technique.  Usually Laurie goes for walks (another theme here visit Dan Zanes article), finds a melody and the comes home to record it on whatever is available.  iPods, answering machines, tape recorders,  etc.  I asked why she didn’t use her phone and she says it’s a simple machine lacking such features. She just recently put out a new song and  has a bunch more to record.  That is when she’s not homeschooling the kids, storytelling, gardening, teaching song workshops, singing about organic foods and of course being Story Laurie.  One of her recent teaching collaborations turned into the song Who Grew My Soup which is worth a listen as well.  So give Laurie’s webpage a look and while you’re there buy the CD. Go support your local kindie artist today!

Just so good.

20140404_202918Sometimes life affords you opportunities and it’s your job to hear the knocking.  Last night the opportunity to go and listen to Los Lobos presented itself and I answered the door.  While I am entrenched in this world of music  booking,los lobos shirt rehearsing, writing, scheduling, etc (Then spend the last two week in school learning a whole new position on the fire department).   You forget why you make music.  Then you go see a band perform with such fluidity and excellence that even when one member makes an unexpected change… they all jump back in line. It’s a reminder of why you do it.  It’s about the music and the joy and the shared experience of the audience and band.   Where  music makes you forget all the worries and problems and there is just the band and you.   It doesn’t have to be a big name band.  I go and see bands like Electric Dirt, Expo 76, Great Moments in Vinyl, etc.  It’s about excellence and happiness whether your on stage or in the audience. So thanks Los Lobos for that moment where life paused momentarily and I got to catch my breath.  Reality becomes a bit easier after a show like last night.20140404_225915

Basement CD discovery!

Well after searching for a lost item in my basement (Think first scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark) I came upon a trove of music I had not listened to.  Forgotten CD’s misplaced on a shelf in the catacombs of my house.  Anyway… I have been burning them to my hard drive and listening and here are few worth checking out.

bill keithIt’s not fair to me - Bill Harley and Keith Munslow.  These guys have been friends for a long time and the fun they’re having translates to the fun you’ll have listening to this CD.  Lots of humor and great music not to mention the first song was the result of a pick a song title contest!  Nicely done guys!

greatest party everThe Greatest Party Ever -Tim and the Space Cadets.  Before he started hanging out with Chica on “The Sunnyside Up Show”  Tim was rocking out and putting out some stellar videos.  This EP release has one of the greatest kids songs ever written called Superhero. Superhero also has an amazing video which you can check out below. Highly recommended for you kindie library

the mighty skyThe Mighty SkyBeth Neilsen Chapman.  This CD got nominated for a Grammy this year.  While many quaility songs are on this, There Is No Darkness is a personal favorite (see video below.) The astronomy theme is well played on this disc but no ones gonna notice when they’re rockin out to Rockin’ Little Neutron Star!

Go support an artist today!!!

Fire Engineer… A whole new world.

Airport Crashrig. Yet another type of engine!

Airport Crashrig. Yet another type of engine!

We have nearly completed half of Fire Engineer school here in Chicago and it’s been a lot to learn for me and my fellow students.  Everyday we are learning new terms, math and everything it takes to do the job.  As a firefighter you take the Engineer for granted when your at a fire because all he has to do is drive you there, send the water and be first in the food line for meals.  Easy peasy.  Well maybe not always.  Seems the engineer has a few things to do before he sends the water. If your relieving (Assigned to a district instead of a specific firehouse.  Lot’s of travel.) like I’ll be doing for a while the first thing he’ll need to do is know what kind of rig your on and what kind of hoses, pipes and other stuff that particular engine company carries. Then when the bell rings…  What’s the best route to  to the fire?  After arriving on scene does he has a fire hydrant or is he sending tank water?  If sending tank water he only has 500 gallons so how long will that last on a hose spewing out 150 gallons per minute?  Where can he acquire a water source while he is on tank water?  Is the fire hydrant frozen (a very common occurrence this winter) is another engine gonna need to feed him water and so on…  Some of these things he’ll have the officers help with but once the officer heads into the fire he is on his own.  Gives one a new appreciation for what they do. Hopefully I learn me a thing or two before the class is through.  Because without water at a fire things can turn bad quickly.

RIP Boston Brothers Ed Walsh and Mike Kennedy

boston fdThe tragedy in Boston has struck home as two firefighters made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty yesterday.  If you are up to it I’d suggest giving a listen to the tape of the radio traffic at the incident at 298 Beacon St.  It is chilling.  My prayers go out to the families of those men and the firefighters who now bear the weight of this tragedy.  If you’d like to help please click on the link below and send a few dollars. Please remember when politicians and others yell about how the fireman pensions cost to much that some never get to collect because of the job they do. God Bless Boston FD.


A new chapter for this writer.

View form the basketMany of you regular readers know that while I’m not rocking out as a Poochamungas or performing my stay at home dad duties I am a full time firefighter for the City of Chicago. Well nearly 18 years of service I managed to get myself promoted to Fire Engineer.  What does this mean? Well I used to be assigned to a Truck Company known as Tower Ladder 21. A Tower Ladder is a truck company with a big ladder on the truck with an additional basket hanging over the front of the rig. This is especially used to put water on bigger fires along with the usual truck duties of search and rescue, ventilation and overhaul.  Different from the Engine Tower LadderCompany who carries the hose and puts water on the fire. There is a lot of friendly rivalry between these two entities in the firehouse but it takes both working in tandem to get the job done.  After finishing training I shall become the driver of that Engine sending water through that hose to the firefighters putting out the blaze.  It’s one of the most critical jobs on any fire department because without water you ain’t putting out the fire.  To get the job the department sends you back to school for a few weeks, 8 hours a day, forty hours a week. Who knew an 8 hour day couldEngines in the shop. be longer than a 24 hour shift?  I write this because the blog may be a bit quieter in the next few weeks as I shift my attention to learning again after a long hiatus from schooling. We shall still  be here a couple times a week talking about the kindie world, music and other things that peak my interest. I have a few more songs to discuss and maybe a thing or to about Engineer school.  Thanks for reading and see you here next week.  I’ve included our song Big Red if you have anymore questions about the Engine or Truck.

Big Red