Tag Archives: Can you canoe?

A New Music Library!

BML

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.

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The truth about Okee Dokee Brothers Music!

Okee-Dokee-Bros-Through-the-WoodsI’m usually not one for writing expose’ pieces but I can hold quiet no longer.  There are a few bands out there posing as “kiddie” bands of which I won’t mention but one band in particular MUST BE EXPOSED!  I’m talking about those happy go lucky folk singing Okee Dokee Brothers.   If you’re not familiar with them they like to go out on long trips and then write songs about the experience. Their first travel inspired album was about canoeing down the Mississippi (Can you Canoe? review) which won a Children’s Grammy. The most recent one is about hiking down the Appalachian Trail.  How are kids supposed to learn about counting when the sublime acoustic sounds and harmonies of the title track Through the Woods takes us out of the city and into the forest?  How can little Jenny, Billy or Isaac learn about colors if they insist singing about Smokey Mountain BBQ, mountain life, love and family in the song Ruby Jane?  How are kids gonna learn to touch their knees and toes if they insist life sounds better in the eclectic, Dean Jones piano driven Out of Tune?  These here are not “kiddie” songs and I’ll tell you what they are…  Americana inspired by the music of the Appalachian. Songs that resonate with folk of all ages.  Music that take the listener on a journey of wonder.   I could go on about how great the CD is but you should go out buy it, listen to it and enjoy two of the best songwriters I know working with one of the best producers (Dean Jones) I know. There’s nothing wrong with “kiddie music” done right.  But the biggest crime here is how many people will never listen to this CD because it’s labeled a Children’s CD when it is so much more.   Go support a Kindie artist today!

The Song and the Process. Along for the Ride by the Okee Dokee Brothers

okeedokeebrothersotsA couple of years ago a couple of kindie artists I know went and put out one of the finest folk Albums I have heard in a long time. Fooled everyone in to thinking it was a “Children’s” album and then went on to win a Grammy for Best Children’s Album in 2012.   On an album full of great songs (Thousand Star Hotel being my personal favorite) Along for the Ride truly stands out on the CD Can You Canoe?  It totally embodies our philosophy that good music knows no age and is one of the finest songs I know of lyrically and musically.  Back in 2011 Joe and Justin went on a trip down the Mississippi to write songs for an album and shoot a DVD.  What I and many people don’t know is that they had CYC_cover_wGrammymost of the songs written before they even left.  Seems the Okee Dokee Brothers are big fans of preparation.  In fact when they are getting ready to record an album they like to have 30-40 songs ready before they even start recording.  Both Justin and Joe each commit to writing 3 pages a day in their song journals when preparing to record an album.  That’s a lot of writing!  In doing this they try to “eliminate the cliché and look for the original.” This also takes off the pressure of them having to come up with ideas while on the trip and instead allowed them solidify the songs they already had and then come up with a new song or two.   Joe said the trip down the river “really solidified the imagery” in their songs.  Especially the case in Along for the Ride when you’re talking about Huck (Finn), Tom (Sawyer) and Becky (Thatcher).  The song itself started out in the Spring of 2010 in Minnesota and didn’t get finished till Winter 2011 in New York.  The journey of the songwriting sort of parallels the journey of the song.   Originally it started it with a completely different music but it didn’t work. Joe (this songs primary songwriter) liked the imagery of Odysseus and Peter Pan and some of the lyrics and the idea of traveling.  He was also on a personal journey at the time reflected by the words in the song. The theme of the first version Okee-Dokee-Brothers-On-the-Riverstarted out much more one sided and apologetic.  But the idea of relationships is about being an “active participant” as Joe said. The idea you gotta meet each other half way and not just “Come along for the ride.”  So the dynamic of the song changed as did the music.  He then bounces this stuff off of Justin as they always do.  Working verses, rewriting, finding the heart of the song though collaboration.  Once in a while they’ll bring in a finished song but usually it’s through the partnership the song finds a home.  Joe talked about writing 100 songs to find the two worthy of recording. To work in your craft with the idea of finding excellence in a song.  When they finished the trip and validated the imagery on the songs they brought it to record at No Parking Studio with who else but…Dean Jones (I’m thinking there’s a future interview there).  Dean offers them two directions.  Go real simple, stripped down acoustic and bare bones.  Looking for a buttery sound, minimal but full of sentiment or… Go with the full rock production (different than rock sound) meaning drums, piano, organ, etc.  make it BIG which is the direction they chose.  They also do a cool trick of playing the verses at one speed and then slow up the chorus parts.  This causes the ear to focus even if the listener is not aware making the chorus feel more laid back.  Knowing they wanted a female voice on the chorus they ask their friend Rachel Loshak who’s a terrific singer (Joe has a great story about recording with her) and she really helps bring out chorus as well.  They get Jeremy Mage on Piano and he does a terrific job of laying the foundation for the song.  I really love how the song starts acoustically small and the sound grows bigger as the song grows, finishing with the full band after starting with a simple acoustic guitar. Dean (Jones) said the key was to be fill the song without it becoming cheesy.  That it be simple but full.  To have great music behind the lyrics and not over shine them. I’d say they succeeded. It’s really a timeless classic of a song which reaches out to listeners of any age.  They have the emails to prove it. no parking studioFrom Grandparents to 6 and 7 year olds singing along at it’s a magical song that really reaches into the heart of the listener.  Don’t take my word for it.  Go have a listen for yourself and let your ears go Along for the Ride.  Be sure to catch them live at the Old town School of Folk Music this Sunday, February 9th at 11am.  They promise to play the song as well!  They also have a new CD and DVD set to be released later this year.  What more could you ask for! Go support a kindie artist today!

Listen to Along for the Ride here on Spotify and then go buy the CD on their website or the single on iTunes so they can keep on making great records!

Snow day and Poochamungas music for sale… in some unexpected places.

CYC_cover_wGrammyAs the family sits in the house on a -18 degree day here in Chicago we have The Okee Dokee Brothers playing and my wife comments that it’s one of her favorite CD’s.  Can You Canoe? is really good and while I may feel a twinge of jealousy  it is a great CD.  So good tunes and family times are the order of the day.

In other news it seems the Poochamungas new CD is availble for sale in a few places I would of never guessed.  I shan’t mention who is selling as I will not promote the business of those who sell what I worked so hard to produce for so little.  Is it a free one I gave to a family or maybe an unscrupulous reviewer as mentioned by Justin Roberts. One of them is using a  photo of the cover that was a finalist but didn’t actually get used so how cheesy is that. Prices range from 13.71 to 1.99.  All are selling new in the cellophane CD’s.  If online pirated music wasn’t the major problem for most artists this might actually be a bigger problem rather than the annoyance it is. Since I list on CD Baby all sorts of sites sell my music including Best Buy and Sears.  Who knew?  Those I’ll get paid from if they make a sale. So go buy a CD and  support your local kindie artist today!

Songs I Wish I had Written

This weeks song is a beautifully written song about hanging out on the Mississippi River by a couple of guys who fooled the who world by letting them think they were buying a children’s music CD but really got an album of great American Folk music or as Poochamungas say “Good Music Knows No Age.”  The fact it went on to win the Children’s Grammy was well-earned. While there are many great songs on The Okee Dokee Brothers CD like the title Track Can you Canoe?, Haul Away Joe, and Brother. CYC_cover_wGrammy The song I wish I had written is Thousand Star Hotel.  It’s a simple but eloquent song about camping on the banks of the Mississippi.  Starting out with a simple banjo, unfolding to a full orchestral sound and then back to the banjo (produced by Dean jones). It takes you on a complete journey in under two minutes. ” I’m sleeping in a Thousand Star Hotel, Gold leaf pillow for my head, feel like a king on a king sized river bed.”  Those are the only words. They set the scene and the music takes you to the grand splendor of a perfect evening along the Mississippi.  One of the cool things about this song is there’s a video of them writing the song and going through the process.  So go check out the video here and buy the CD.   We’ll find another great song soon for Songs I Wish I had Written.