Category Archives: Recording

The song I wish I had written. Kalamazoo Star by Gerald Dowd.

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The best written song I have heard this year is the non-kindie type written by all things a drummer in a kindie band. A DRUMMER! Yes though I am not as shocked and amazed as you might think. The song is Kalamazoo Star and it’s written by one Gerald Dowd.  Most of the time you find him behind his kit backing one of the many fine bands he plays and sings with (Justin Roberts, Robbie Fulks, Frisbie, Kelly HoganElectric Dirt, etc) but, on this occasion he has released a CD of his own material.  Home Now is a great example of American Music and Kalamazoo Star is as good a song as one can ever hope to write. A superior CD with filled with great American music.  Props to Liam Davis stars-in-the-night-sky(producer), John Abbey (engineer) and the many wonderful musicians and singers (too many to list) behind the music. As good as the CD is this tune stands apart.  The magic of the song is its positive message in the face of and mournful and sad occasion. Add in the fact the band itself sounds like they could be playing on your front porch, barn, campfire etc. It’s a celebration of life in the face of death and it’s all done in a single take (They saved the best take for last!).  “There’s another star in the Kalamazoo Sky tonight. Same old sky but it feels brand new”. Someone special has passed on and even in death they are looking over family and friends. It’s poignant, sweet and smart. Anyone who ever penned a song wishes they could write songs like this. Thanks for this one Gerald. I’ll be looking for that star next time I’m in Michigan.  So where can you get this CD.  Head on over to www.geralddowd.com and he’s supposed to have it available by Friday.  You can also catch him in the street or a concert venue near you. I’m sure he’ll gladly sell you a copy or two. I intend to buy a bunch as Christmas gifts this year. Go and support an independent music artist today!

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A corrected addend-ed amended Top Ten, I did!

'Appetite_For_Construction'_Album_Cover

A couple of weeks ago I posted my top ten kids CD’s (My Top Ten and Rejected Again) plus a few others the family was grooving too and it seems I missed three worthy candidates in the process.  Two of them because I hadn’t heard them and the last one because well… I forgot.  I listen to a lot of music so this sometimes happens.  So my top ten is now like the Big Ten Conference which they still call the Big ten but actually has 14 teams.  So with no further ado here is the addendum to my top ten CD’s.  Music please…JOR

  1. The Pop Ups – Appetite for Construction (Great music from the two guys most likely to write a Broadway kids show.)
  2. Randy Kaplan – Jam on Rye (Comedy, kids and conversations with great music  as only Randy can bring.)
  3. Seanster and the Monsters – Yay! (Just a CD filled with lots of silliness, fun and great music. I don’t even hold the Canadian thing against him. This is also my hidden gem of the “TOP TEN!”)YAYCover

So go check these out along with my original list and support an independent artist today!

A New Music Library!

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In my efforts to spread the music of kindie and the fact I have now a large collection of  said music.  I have started a kindie library at the kids school!  Included but not pictured is the message included which states:

Enjoy the music! If you like what you hear go support the artist and buy the CD/MP3/Tunes so that artist is able to continue and make art for us to listen too!

OkeeDokeeCDcover

This month the library’s  featured artists are The Grammy winning Okee Dokee Brothers Can You Canoe?  One of my family’s all-time favorites and a tremendous CD of Americana music. Plus it comes with a DVD of their trip down the Mississippi that inspired the music. The other is Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band – HeidiCDcoverMy Cup of Tea.  She is best known as Susan on the Seinfeld series but now makes incredibly fun and eclectic ukulele driven music for the whole family. Both CD’s are excellent and please go support a kindie artist today.

The Song and the Process. I Must Be a Genius by Dean Jones

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Dean Jones is busy these days recording other peoples music.  When I called he was in a session with Molly Ledford (Lunch Money) and Billy Kelly who are working on a project (they had stepped out for lunch). He also works or has worked with with Story Laurie, Recess Monkey and those two Grammy winning children’s music impostors (they’re really great folk musicians in disguise) The Okee Dokee Brothers and many others.  Dean’s really a go to guy when it comes to music production but he is also a most talented songwriter in his own right and likeable fellow as well.  There aren’t a lot of smartly written love songs in the kindie music world that I know of.  The two that come to mind are Pandas are Dangerous by The Boogers and I Must Be A Genuis by Dean Jones. While the Pandas song isdog on fleas bogof totally Punk Rock (still sentimental) this one is more charming and sweet reminiscent of the 40’s piano driven pop song.  I think Bing Crosby but I digress…  When asked where the song came from Dean said “Out of the blue. Some of the best songs are BOOM. The Phrase just came out.”  So he had the I must be a genius and the love me, love you too part so he needed music.  He went to his default chord structure.   A bunch of chords he was used to writing in (mine is E A D). Dean wasn’t always a kindie music guy.  He had a band like all those other bands out there and one day his  friend who owns a toy store told him “his songs where juvenile.  Why not write songs for kids?” So that’s what he did and Dog on Fleas was Born.  When not writing or producing music he also plays out professionally, accompanies  a puppet company plus Dad and dishwashing duties. Dean is married with two kids one of whom is already songwriting at 7 yrs old and in his (Dean) words “Writes good stuff.”  Me, I’m thinking Dean writes really cool offbeat tunes and with this song he is quite genius indeed with this shuffling drum, trombone highlighted, piano driven two minute masterpiece.  Go check out  this song on Buy One Get One Flea!  Go check out all of his work and go support an independent artist today!

For your consideration

grammy entry 2

 

I did it.  I just addressed the CD to be sent to The Recording Academy so I can let my peers vote on my CD to be nominated for a Grammy.  What are my chances?  Not very good.  We have an excellent product and by we I mean all the folks who worked on it –  Alton Smith, Pete Cunningham, Don Zaloudek, Frank Izzo, Nancy Rose, Frank Rose and John Abbey.  We also had some super help in vocals with Anna Fermin and Emily Hurd. Is It Grammy worthy?  Well I like to think so but that really has no bearing on who wins.  Justin Roberts put out a power pop masterpiece last year and lost to a lesser album.  Not that theJR recess winner’s wasn’t really good.   Just not as good in my opinion.  Which others would perhaps disagree.  But I digress…  The great thing about recorded music is that eventually the truly great pieces transcend time.  Grammy or no Grammy.  Why do I enter mine if I’m pretty sure I’m not going to win?  I’m a dues paying member so why not?   No one ever won anything by staying home.  If you’re a voting member please make Poochamungas one of your 5 selections.  Thank you.

School Break Primates (aka Recess Monkey) are at it AGAIN!

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I mentioned while talking about Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and his wonderful Imaginary Friend (on The Perfect Quirk, June 24) was sharing space in the coveteded car CD slot with WIRED by Recess Monkey.  This is one my favorite CD’s this year.  I could go on and on about the entire CD. How they recorded in San Francisco with John Vanderslice, recorded it on 2″ tape, a minivan of unused instruments but I already did that in my interview with Drew Hollaway… Opening track Take Your Kid To Work Day is just electric mayhem (sounds like a name for a band…). Seriously this one song gets you pumped up for the whole day. Great funky bass, smokin’ guitar licks and primal drums rhythms all make you want to dance.  Lyrically it’s just so much fun as a kid describesrecess monkey segway a day at dad’s (or moms) workplace. The whole CD is reflected in the vibe of this one song which will be available to you on JUNE 17th.  GO!  This is an amazing CD and you should buy it on pre-sale today. Go support a kindie artist today!

The Song and The Process. Looking for Trains by Justin Roberts.

JRwillyThe idea came from a father on the road with a band sending home photos and videos to his train obsessed son.  It was a way to stay in touch even when he couldn’t be with the family.  Bands tend to travel and good bands travel a lot.  Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players are one of the best (Two Grammy nominations.)  They travel quite a bit.  It started with the melody and the words “Seems like you’re always looking for trains.”  So began Looking for Trains by Justin Roberts off of his recently Grammy nominated CD Recess.  The father in the band is drummer Gerald Dowd (drummer, father and good guy extraordinaire) who was doing what dads do.  If the kids wants to see trains you send that kid pictures, books, videos and whatever else you find train related.  With a melody and opening lyric Justin then further djr recesseveloped the song on his guitar which is not how he usually works these days.  Nowadays he likes to develop songs on Logic.  This is an Apple program that allows him to add all sorts of instrumentation.  Strings, horns, guitars, etc.  So when he heads into the studio he already has a direction and feel for a song.  But this time he grabs his guitar and starts working it out old school (I’m a big fan of old school.) Lyrically he comes up with every rhyming verse he can think of that makes references to trains.  Then he inserts the lyrics to mimic the train rhythm he has set up in the instrumentation.  When it comes to the bridge he envisions it as getting bigger.  This is where his co-conspirator/producer and fellow band member Liam Davis stepped in, stripped it down (just piano and violin) holding the listener right when the point of the song is being made.  The best thing about this song is that it’s about more than trains which I suspected and Justin confirmed.  It’s about life. About hope.  How we are all looking for our trains “even though all we can see right now are the cars.”

Maybe it’s caught up in tunnels in the middle of a mountain so wide.  Maybe it’s stuck over bridges trying to get to the other side. Either way it’ll be here any day I can see it now it’s coming through…”

I asked if Mr. Roberts writes the music or words first and he said said both.  That he writes the words and the melody at the same time.  He is also not a constant writer or an inspirational writer but rather a “writes when he has too” writer.  Which is impressive.  Knowing you have a deadline puts added pressure on the Justin Robertswhole process.  This works good for some but poorly for others.  He also made a simple statement when asked why he writes kids songs that I find resoundingly true. That he “just writes songs.” Rather good songs if you ask me.  These days Justin has a new picture book coming out called The Smallest Girl in The Smallest Grade (Putnam Books), is writing a musical, got elected to the Chicago Chapter Board of The Recording Academy and will be touring with the band.  Do yourself a favor.  Whether you have kids or not go and give Recess a listen and you tell me if it’s not a power pop masterpiece (It is).  Good music knows no age is our motto and Justin Roberts and his band mates put out some of the best music around for kids, families, aliens, dockworkers and whoever else is listening. Listen to the track (pun intended) below and  go support your local kindie artist today.

Looking for Trains