Getting in my car this morning after a long work shift my plan was to stop at the farmers market for some freshly made donuts and grab some vegetables. Opening the tailgate I placed my duffel bag in and noticed a box of my CD’s. What caught my eye was a couple other CD’s in the box one of which is Hello My Baby : Songs to Bond You and Your Baby by Vered. Always willing to hear new artists and especially people I’ve met I pop in into the CD player. The title is a bit wordy in my opinion but that would be the only flaw in an otherwise perfect sonic journey. The blend of harmonies, horns, strings and joy make it one of the best sounding CD’s I have heard this year. I haven’t written here since pre-kindiecomm and that’s where I obtained this CD. I saw and heard lots of great stuff at Kindiecomm. Lucy Kalantari, LARD Dog, The Sugar Free Allstars, The Boogers and may others to which I have been slacking about reporting here on the blog. But I gotta tell you that upon hearing this CD I felt obligated to write about it. To spread the word. The shame of great albums like this is that many folks dismiss what’s been recorded as soon as they hear kids or children’s music. This isn’t a sing song sing along hope to forget it barney experience. This is excellence in music regardless of genre. Do yourself a favor if your looking for something to listen with your baby, child or just in the mood for some great music. I should mention that once again that guy Dean Jones (Grammy award winner)produced this stellar album. Go buy this and support an independent artist today.
Posted in CD reviews, family, kids, Kindie, Music
Tagged children, Dean Jones, kindie, Kindiecomm, LArd Dog, Lucy Kalantari, music, parents, The Boogers, Vered
Snowstorm upon arrival!
It’s taken awhile but here I am to report on my success of completing my list (Things to do at Kindiecomm) at KindieComm in Philadelphia. YES! I did share a beer and a conversation with the legend herself Kathy O’Connel. Got to meet Bob McGrath from Sesame Street!!! Shared beverages with many others including Dean Jones and Kurt Gallagher (Both awesome and talented guys). My family ran into the Cosgroves at breakfast, at KindieComm, the hotel lobby and breakfast again. Good times not to mention the three girls were back-up dancers for Andrés Mauricio Salguero. Seanster and the Monsters kicked some but on stage. Sean Hogan and the boys were great! So was Steve Denyes and Andres set as well. Not only did I get to hang with the Jeff Bogle we got to have dinner with his amazing clan (he makes a mean pulled pork) and my son walked away with a Skylander guy! Which he is still playing with by the way… The family also got to see Independence Hall (They signed a few important papers here), National Constitution Center (life size bronze statues of the signers), Ben Franklin Museum (organized first fire US fire department), South Street (CHEESE-STEAK!) and Valley Forge (Them cabins were crowded). Overall it was a great trip and my kids had a great time. I must thank the Omni Hotel in Philadelphia for the coolest perk of the trip. You can order cookies and milk to the room anytime till 9pm!!! We even had them delivered to the lobby by the fire while sitting with Jeff Bogle. Supercool! I did fail to book a gig and only had a moment with Joanie Leeds Drummer. I leave you with a group shot of Bob McGrath, Kathy O’Connel and the attendees of com. I and the family had a great time. Hope to see you all next year.
Photo by Spark provided by Robert Drake
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged 123 Andres, Bob McGrath, children, Dean Jones, Jim Cosgrove, Kathy O'Connel, kids, Kids Corner, kindie, Kindiecomm, Kurt Gallagher, music, National Constitution Center, philadelphia, Seanster and the Monsters, Sesame Street, World Cafe, wxpn
Back when I had Sirius/Xm Radio. Back before they ended my subscription without a warning or email or letter or carrier pigeon. Back when we were loyal listeners to Kids Place Live (we still love you Mindy, Jack and Kenny). We were up to date on a lot of kids music and How to Eat a Cloud by said above band was a pretty cool song. Smart, thoughtful, quirky and fun. I had seen them perform at the last Kindiefest and they were quite good as well. So today we are going through some of the CD’s we acquired from KindieComm (which was great! Review forthcoming) and Ratboy Jr. got the CD slot and both son and I are in agreement. It’s pretty darn good! Smart, thoughtful, quirky and fun describes the whole disk. Any CD that makes a reference to Chewbacca is a winner in our home. My son loves Pretends Your Hand’s a Puppet and Backyard Camping. It was also recorded at that fun factory in New York run by that Dean Jones guy called No Parking Studios. I know the review is 3 years late but I just got my copy and better late than never! I look forward to their next disc. Go find a copy of this CD and support an independent artist today!
Posted in CD reviews, family, kids, Kindie, Music
Tagged children, Dean Jones, Jack Forman, Kenny Curtis, kids, Kids Place Live, kindie, Kindiecomm, Mindy Thomas, music, no parking studios, ratboy jr.
Posted in CD reviews, family, Kindie, Music
Tagged awards, Baze and His Silly Friends, Brady Rymer, children, Dean Jones, Dog on Fleas, Edie Carey, Fids, Grammy, Joanie Leeds, John Samson, Jon Samson, Josh and the Jamtones, Kamily, kindie, Laura Doherty, Lucky Diaz, Mills Trills, Mills Trils, music, Recess Monkey, Sarah Sample, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, The Not-its, The Okee Dokee Brothers, Top Ten, top ten CD
I’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!
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Appalachian, bbq, Can you canoe?, Children's, Dean Jones, Grammy, hiking, kiddie, kindie, music, Okee Dokee Brothers, Smokey Mountains, through the woods, trail
I recently had a great talk with Drew Holloway of Recess Monkey about their kindie career and how they got to where they are today sonically. How once upon a time they were just three school teachers recording in a school. That he and Daron Henry would play guitar and drums and Jack Forman would record them. Then when they (Daron and Drew) got done recording the guitar and drums Jack would record his bass while the other two plotted out the next song. No fancy studio for them as they recorded in the classrooms they taught in. It was a very sophisticated way of making a CD. Just three guys playing three instruments making good music. A long way from the band that’s playing with the Seattle Symphony on May 17th! This is as far as I had gotten in this article about the growth of the Recess Monkey. Especially in the world of music production. I’d love to tell you about the many other cool things about Recess Monkey. But it seems the notebook I recorded my notes in has disappeared. In my house! It may be under my son’s bed or being used as a diary by my daughter. Perhaps the wife’s been jotting down grocery lists. I’m not sure. If I had it I’d tell you about their awesome experience recording with Dean Jones (Most mentioned guy on this blog. Due for an interview.) on In Tents. Perhaps we’d discuss the addition of Korum Bischoff after long time drummer Daron Henry left the band. (They have a drummer coming out party on the song Fish Sticks on last year’s Deep Sea Diver. It is a truly amazing piece of drumming.) Then I’d make mention of the fact that Deep Sea Diver and Desert Island Disc were originally one CD that grew into two because of the plethora of songs. Talk about the heavy Brian Wilson vibe on Desert Island Disc. That their upcoming disc was recorded with their musical hero John Vanderslice and that after Drew packed up all the Recess Monkey instruments into the minivan, drove them to the Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco he ended up using just a mandolin. That John recorded the upcoming CD all on two inch tape. TWO INCH TAPE!!! On a Neve no less. Why you ask is that so impressive? Tape is a finite analog recording experience unlike digital. Once you get the right take you erase the rest to use the tape again. So when you’re in the recording room you better be damn ready to record the song (Watch the documentary Sound City to get the scope of why recording on 2 inch tape and a Neve is so impressive.) Those are the things I would probably talk about. Did I mention that Drew is still teaching, Korum has around 3 jobs including Drum Teacher and Director of Events and oh yeah… Jack Forman. The bass player, song writer, original engineer and now the late afternoon host on Kids Place Live (We’re big fans of Jack and the Monkey House listening most days in our car). These are things I would discuss if I could find my note book. Wherever it is. What I did come away with from my conversation with Drew is the idea that a band becomes greater than its pieces. That new recording experiences whether with Dean Jones, Johnny Bregar, Tor Hyams or John Vanderslice help fuel the way to more music and keep it interesting for the band. In the beginning they recorded everything they wrote and then learned to write more and record just the cream of their writing. They’re still having fun and still writing, playing and grooving out with audiences coast to coast. Maybe I’ll find that notebook. Would of been a heck of an article. Now go support a kindie artist today! I leave you with my kids favorite Monkey video. Self produced of course…
Congrats to Jack Forman and family on the arrival of the new Baby! May she and mom be healthy and you all get lots of rest!
Posted in family, Kindie, live music, songwriting
Tagged children, Dean Jones, Deep Sea Diver, Desert Island Disc, Drew Holloway, family, Jack Black, John Vanderslice, Johnny Bregar, kindie, Korum B, music, Recess Monkey, Seattle, Tiny Telephone Recording, Tor Hyams
A 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 most 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 started 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. From 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!
Posted in family, Kindie, song reviews, songwriting
Tagged becky thatcher, Can you canoe?, Dean Jones, folk, Grammy, huck finn, kindie, Mississippi, music, No Parking, Okee Dokee Brothers, Old Town School of Folk Music, River, tom sawyer
The other day on Facebook a really good conversation thread about Kickstarter was started by Jeff Bogle of Out With The Kids fame. He was inquiring why musicians needed to raise so much money to make a CD these days. Many great replies from Zooglobble, The Rock Father and others. It was a very valid question. Why is it, it takes 10K to make a CD. I know a couple things about making a CD having produced 2 in the last 5 years (and not much more). While making music is free… Recording it can be a bit expensive. Unless your a talented engineer as well as musician (see Todd McHatton) and have your own studio (which is a sizable investment in itself) you are going to have to pay someone to record your band. Now how much depends on who you hire and how long it takes. Do you pay a set rate or are you paying hourly? Is the band ready to play the songs? Do you need to hire musicians and or singers? How much to Mix? Master? Are you traveling the recording studio (I know a lot of folks travel to record with Dean Jones) or is it local. Are you paying for a producer or self producing? How much does he charge (I’ve been quoted 5k for a producer). The whole idea of making a record is to make the best music you can and get it to your fans and make some money so you can do it again. Phew! Recording is a lot of fun but paying for it sucks. Recording costs ranges from 30 – 100 dollars an hour. You can get weekend rates, some places have a flat fee and others discount for pre-paying for large blocks of time. Know this. You get what you pay for and a good engineer is priceless. No matter how good you are live recording is a completely different animal and the guy recording you is critical. Know your budget and expect some costs you didn’t consider. Know that mistakes will be made and re-recording is a reality. Some bands record the bass and drums and then lay tracks over that. Poochamungas usually record as a band with my vocals and guitar as a scratch and then fill them in later. This works for us because it’s more energetic, efficient and cost effective. Then we add vocals, additional guitars, etc. Then after recording there’s the oh so important mixing part. Some people specialize in only mixing. This is also critical to your sound so get someone who knows what they’re doing here as well. Know that hearing in things in the studio is different than hearing things for gigs. All of the above takes time, effort and money. This leads to success or failure. Mistakes usually means spending more time and money. Lets not call them failures but learning experiences. Which then leads to success. Which happens when your creating art. Which is what making music is… ART. I know very little but I know this. If your goal is to just sell records you get lousy art. But if you go out to make great art you may get to sell some records (Which by the way for kids artists means pressing CD’s and more money). Making great art takes time and time costs money. For some it cost more than others. Is 10k unreasonable. Depends on the perspective.
In all the work with PR, booking shows, rehearsing, entering contests and mailing CD’s, etc., because of the CD release. You tend to forget why you started the whole thing to begin with. The music. I’m late to the game having started playing guitar at 30. My fingers don’t work as they should after a lifetime of athletic abuse but the fact I can strum 3 chords and make sounds that make sense brings me joy. The fact that the band takes that music and lyrics and brings life to it for others amazes me and makes me grateful. To share that fun with others is why Poochamungas play shows and make recordings. Tonight I’m listening to the Frances England recording Blink of an Eye and she gets it. The sharing of fun, hope and joy. I am forced to listen on my headphones instead of the stereo as my wife watches TV in the same room. What a great sonic experience. This is an album that deserves the headphone treatment. With life running by you forget how good it is just to sit and listen to someone else’s expression of joy. Things like the happy bass line, snapping fingers and whurlitzer on Move Like Saturday Night.( The fact she talks about the love of music in the song says it all.) Her dive into poppy electronica on Bicycle Built for Two (with Molly Ledford) is a whole lot of friendship fun. But my favorite is the driving rythmic beat of guitars and simple percussion on Little Wings. The visual I associate in my head with the unnatural speed of my own young children running around. “Take it from me she runs like a cheetah…” Frances sings. Truer words could not be spoken. Of course she had this produced over at the happiness factory run by Dean Jones (seriously dude take a break! You earned it!) This is really a great album. Not because it gonna win, or won any awards but because she made some great music to share with the world. Please go buy it so she can earn enough to make the next CD of great music. Thank you Frances for the reminder that the music is the thing. The link to buy the CD is below.
This CD was sent to this reviewer and the opinions expressed are his own.
Posted in CD reviews, family, gigs, marketing, Recording, song reviews
Tagged Children's, Dean Jones, Frances, kids, kindie, Molly Ledford, music, Poochamungas