Monday, March 23, 2020

Kokowanda Bay

Kokowanda Bay. Performed by Ruth and Emilia. CD. Approx. 33 min. Baa Baa Farms Music. 2020. Price: CD: $12.99.
K-Gr 3

Extra-terrestrial URR, last met in the award-winning The Spaceship That Fell in My Backyard returns to Earth to visit with Emilia again, and to help her clean up Kokowanda Bay. The multi-award-winning mother-daughter duo, Ruth Weber and Emilia Lopez-Yanez, present another rousing album of 11 songs, in various styles of rock, calypso, and pop. Their vocals combine in some wonderful harmonies. The tunes are cheery, bouncy, lively, and dance-inducing, accompanied by great performances on guitars, piano, oboe, saxophone, brass, trumpet, drums, and harmonica. Instead of sleeping in, one should “Get on Up” and spread one’s love. In “Who Would Believe It’s True, URR returns to Earth because there is more to learn. “Kokowanda Bay” is a great place to spend a Saturday. A “Little Kid with a Great Big Heart” can help pick up trash and garbage around the bay. Growing plants, emerging butterflies, and hatching birds all seem “Like Magic” events. Determined to reduce their carbon footprint, “We’re Goin’ Green” by turning off lights, recycling, and composting. “With My Snorkel On”, I can see underwater ocean animals much more clearly. One can “Turn It into Something New” by recycling old clothes, cans, and boxes into something new. The other songs are “The Food Chain,” “Good Friends Never Really Say Goodbye,” and “Soaring Through the Galaxy.”  This excellent album will encourage listeners to go green.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


Awesome! Performed by Jesse Jukebox. CD. Approx. 17 min. Bovine Music. 2020. CD: $10; Digital: $5.
K-Gr 3

Clevelander Jesse Friedberg performs six original, energetic songs on his third album, with help from Grammy Award winner Dean Jones, who contributes his talents as producer, vocalist and instrumentalist. Diagnosed with ADHD as a child, Friedberg wants this album to encourage children who are going through similar learning trials. Friedberg and Jones perform beautifully on guitars, bass, keys, toy piano, synths, flutes, harmonicas, trombone, drums, and percussion. Some talented children also join in on the songs. Many things are “Awesome,” including macaroni and cheese, polar bears, five-foot pancake stacks; so, show the entire world how awesome you are. When you need to make a decision, “Listen to Your Gut” and trust your intuition. One of a kind, my “Incredible Shoes” have flashing lights, lightning bolts, springs on the bottom and help me dance and run. I’m a “Complicated Kid,” having a hard time in school because I can’t pay attention and need to move around. “I Wanna Learn,” and I learn something new every day-- that dogs don’t sweat, they pant; rats like to be tickled; octopuses have three hearts; and it rains metal on Venus, etc. When you try something new and start to make a change, you’ll discover that you are “Right Where You Belong.” An excellent album with songs that will encourage all children facing learning obstacles.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Sharon & Bram and Friends

Sharon & Bram and Friends. Performed by Sharon Hampson and Bram Morrison. CD. Approx. 31 min. Casablanca Kids Inc. 2019. Digital: $8.99.
K – Gr 5

Multiple award winners, Sharon and Bram are among Canada’s premier music entertainers for children, and inductees into the Order of Canada. Having entertained children since 1978, the two are still going strong in their 70s. Their vocals are clear and vibrant, and the backup musicians are excellent. With 21 previous albums under their belts, they now perform 8 bright and lively original songs in pop and folk musical styles. Four of these songs were released as singles, which were reviewed on this blog on August 6, 2019. An enthusiastic children’s chorus joins in on several of the songs. “Everybody Talks” about peace, but how great it would be if somebody had a war and nobody came. Canadian comedian Colin Mochrie joins in the very funny “Colour Song” about homophones; real ones like red/read and blue/blew, and silly ones like yellow/yell “oh” and green/agreein’. Hearing Mochrie become more and more frustrated by these silly homophones is half the fun. “Old Coat” is based on the folktale in which an old coat is made into smaller and smaller garments: coat to jacket, jacket to shirt, shirt to vest, etc. In “The Drum Song,” the singers imitate drum rhythm sounds. “The Hug Song” inquires if you have had a hug today. How could anything be wrong with being “Different?” We’re all different and having a ball. “Sharon & Bram’s Colour Song” is a reprise of the second song, without Mochrie. “Talk About Peace,” featuring Jim Cuddy, encourages peace, friendliness, and loving your neighbor as yourself.  The album ends with the duo’s famous and favorite tune: “Skinnamarinky Two,” including some new lyrics. Fans new and old will embrace this new and long-awaited album.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

All of Us: Bible Songs for Everyone

All of Us: Bible Songs for Everyone. Performed by Parker & Alexander. CD. Approx. 29 min. Bootjack Productions. 2019. CD & Digital: $9.99.
K – Gr 5

Brendan Parker and Erick Alexander, the duo that created Spaghetti Eddie, perform 10 lovely songs that retell Bible stories that are of particular interest to young listeners. These lively rock songs feature beautiful harmonies, toe-tapping, driving beats, and appealing tunes that are fun and easy to sing along with. The background instruments—guitar, bass, drums, and percussion—are performed with excellence.
The “Celebration of Creation” praises a creation that has been put together beautifully and could only have come from God. “In the Beginning” God made everything, including cuddly puppies, frisky kitties, Adam, and Eve. People thought that “Noah” was a little cuckoo: “Where are you going in that huge thing? There’s no water in your backyard!” With a great big gulp and a wiggle of the tail, in went “Jonah” to the mouth of the whale. God wrote on stone tablets His “Ten Commandments” and Moses brought those big stone tablets down from the mountain. Jesus’ birth had “Humble Beginnings” in a barn on a bed of hay. The “Good Samaritan” was a real humanitarian, a neighbor without comparison. “All of Us” are special in God’s eyes, even when we have bad days. Jesus taught us how to pray to God in “The Lord’s Prayer.” The crucifixion and resurrection occurred over “Three Dark Days,” when the sin that holds us down was washed away. This outstanding album will be welcome in homes and Sunday School classes.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

I'm an Optimist

I’m an Optimist. Performed by Dog on Fleas. CD. Approx. 34 min. Produced by Dean Jones. 2019. CD: $5.99; Digital: $9.99.
Grades 1 – 5

This album has the feel of a half-hour jam session with Dean Jones, John Hughes and Chris Cullo, the Dog on Fleas band. Grammy Award winner Dean Jones has also produced albums for many well-known kindie artists, including Frances England, the Okee Dokee Brothers, Red Yarn, Elizabeth Mitchell, and many others. These 12 quirky songs, performed in several varieties of rock, have odd lyrics and lots of sound FX. The trio and guest musician are extremely proficient on guitar, bass, saxophone, trombone, drums and percussion. With a “Can Do Attitude,” one can change the world, change a diaper, peel a potato, and accomplish many other things. Is there a “Doppelgänger” out there who looks just like you? “Oh Lazy Me” is liked much more than the uptight version. In this piece, which is partly spoken and partly sung, the narrator tells how he planned to build a treehouse, when he encountered “A Little Hiccup:” he forgot the nails. “It’s a Miracle” that an airplane can fly, that an apple tree comes from a seed, and that heads don’t pop off when a person sneezes. In a world of grumpy, I “Wanna Be” a smiler; in a world of bears, I wanna be a park ranger; and in a world of careful, I wanna little danger. Spoken and sung, “Word Association” features children playing the game and coming up with associations such as mind/brain, head/heart, whale/ocean and more. In “I’m an Optimist,” the narrator prefers to feed his optimist side rather than his pessimist side. The other songs include “Sting Along,” “Village d’Etoiles,” “Sunny Day Song,” and “Did You See That Squirrel?” These humorous songs will tickle the funny bones of young listeners.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Thank You, Mister Rogers: Music and Memories

Thank You, Mr. Rogers: Music and Memories. Performed by Various Artists. CD. Approx. 45 min. Act IV Music. 2019. CD: $13.98; digital: $11.49.
Pre-S and up

This wonderful musical homage to Fred Rogers features 12 celebrity individual and group artists singing in pop, rock, jazz, and Latin musical styles. All of the 13 songs on the album were written by Fred Rogers over the years. Musical legends the Cowsills open with a harmonious performance of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” in their unique pop style. Award-winning Cuban-American Jon Secada performs the same song in Spanish (“Podemos Ser Amigos?”) with a bright, lively Latin beat. The rest of the songs include “You Can Never Go Down the Drain” (award-winning Christian and Latin pop singer, Jaci Velasquez); “Sometimes People Are Good” (Rita Wilson, actress and wife of Tom Hanks who portrays Fred Rogers in the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood); “Perfectly Beautiful Day” (Mickey Dolenz, formerly of The Monkees); “Many Ways to Say I Love You” (Grammy and Oscar winning Vanessa Williams); “Some Things I Don’t Understand” (Tom Bergeron, host of “Dancing With the Stars” and whistler extraordinaire); “This Is My Home” (award-winning pianist Jim Brickman); “Let’s Be Together Today” (Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr., formerly of the 5th Dimension); “Please Don’t Think It’s Funny” (award-winning Christian contemporary artist Sandi Patty); “It’s Such a Good Feeling” (country music star, Kellie Pickler); “When the Day Turns into Night” (Lee Greenwood, country music star and writer/singer of “God Bless the USA”); and “Thank You for Being You” (the entire ensemble). Adults who grew up with Mr. Rogers will appreciate these new arrangements and will want to share these classic songs with their own children.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Moove to the Moozika!

Moove to the Moozika. Performed by Jesse Goldman. CD. Approx. 30 min. Ruminator Records. 2018. CD or digital: $14.99.
Pre-S—Grade 3

            Goldman’s album is based on the music he uses in his successful music classes for children in Brooklyn. Goldman does a good job performing on all the instruments himself: guitars, bass, piano, organ, synths, trombone, trumpet, accordion, drums, marimba, tambourine, shakers, triangle, cow bell, clave bells, sax, whistle, and harmonica. Goldman and several children perform in several musical styles, including pop, jazz, electronic dance music, folk, samba, blues, ranchera, Latin, and rock. “Moove to the Moozika,” in English and Spanish encourages children to move—stomping, shaking, and moving to the beat. The “Moose on the Loose” chases all the children who run far away. Listeners learn to count to four in Spanish with “Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro.” The “Supa Dupa Soup” has onions, carrots, celery, and perhaps dirty socks and salamanders. “Wiggle Waggin’” teaches listeners some animal sounds. “Wave Your Scarf” encourages participatory movement. Listeners might want to ride a “Burro,” a caballo and a toro while learning some Spanish. The lullaby “Sleep My Baby,” instead of being at the end of the album is in the middle of it, a somewhat unusual placement. The “Brooklyn Baby” goes to the zoo, plays in Prospect Park, rolls across the Brooklyn Bridge, and goes to Coney Island. “Limpia” is a cute cleaning up song. The “Roly-Poly Train” rolls through the mountains and plains, spins its wheels and blows its whistle. “Hasta Luego” ends the album with a bilingual farewell. Goldman’s goal is for families to come up with their own variations of the melodies, or even create new music inspired by this album.