Tuesday, October 13, 2020

My Earth Songs


My Earth Songs. Performed by Lonnie Park and The Earth Band. CD. Approx. 45 min. Universal Music Group. 2020. Digital: $9.99.  K – Grade 5

A compilation of songs from My Earth Songs Virtual Live Concert, with proceeds benefiting UNICEF Covid-19 relief for children, this upbeat album features 15 energetic pop, rock, and mariachi songs. The line-up of award-winning international musicians includes Lonnie Park (US), Ricky Kej (India), Baaba Maal (Senegal), Lucy Kalantari (US), Jon Samson (US), Wouter Kellerman (South Africa), Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea (US), Ron Korb (Canada), and Dominic D’Cruz (India).  The Mzansi Youth Choir (South Africa) joins in on the first song. These excellent musicians perform on acoustic and electric guitars, dobro, banjo, mandolin, bass, piano, keyboards, flute, Chinese bawu, tin whistle, kazoo, harmonica, tambourine, drums, and percussion. Their vocals are clear and understandable, with great harmonies. Spread a little kindness and “Shine Your Light.” Because we are “Born from the Land,” we should celebrate the joy of life. This song features the voice of Baaba Maal, from the Black Panther soundtrack. “She Can Do, He Can Do” any type of job that needs doing. Like the movers and shakers who came before us, we have “Something to Live Up To.” All of us on the land must care for our friends “In the Waterworld,” such as fish, crabs, and octopuses. Give us hope that we can live and “Breathe Life” upon this land. It’s a celebration of all creation in a “Festival Divine.” Together, let us erase our “Carbon Footprint.” A tree requests that people “Gimme Your CO2” and it gives people oxygen in return. Pedal power is the fun way to go on “Bicycle Day.” Some children go hungry all day long, so there should be “No Hunger” anymore. “Plastic War” encourages listeners to recycle plastic rather than throw it away. A child puts on a “Thinking Cap” to figure out a way to make this world a better place. A rhinoceros pleads “Don’t Touch My Horn,” just take a photograph. A little sparrow asks if he can spend the night in the backyard “Perched on a Single Nail.” This album will encourage youngsters to be more aware of the world around them.

Website: http://myearthsongs.com

Monday, October 12, 2020

Camping with Dads


Camping with Dads. Performed by Peter Alsop. CD. Approx. 68 min. Moose School Music. 2020. Price: CD: $14.98. K – Grade 5

            Performed like a radio show, this camping trip intertwines 16 original songs and 14 narration/conversation sections that advance the story. Award-winning Peter Alsop wrote and performs the songs with guest dads Gerald Rivers, Norman Jones, Stuart Stotts, and Chad Scheppner. In addition, some grandchildren and their friends join in on most of the songs and conversations. Alsop’s 10th family music album features folk, pop, march jugband rock, acapella, classic rock and Afrika beat, and some lovely harmonies. The backup musicians make wonderful music on  guitar, ukulele, dulcimer, spoons, bass, keyboards, marimbas, kazoo, djembe, and kokoriko. “Follow the Leader” to the campsite, with dads, grandsons, and one granddaughter. Steelhead trout need to “Get on Home” to reproduce, but there is a dam in the way. The “Sonical Digital Musical Box” can play whatever one wants to sing. “Anthropologist” explains all about those who study people groups. Instead of talking, a dad decides “You Need a Good Listenin’ To.” A zoo visitor tells his family “I Brought a Gorilla Home.” In “Dads ‘n Boys,” males need to remember to respect their female relatives and friends. “Stronga” is another song about treating females well. The other songs include “All Our Kids,” “Different Choice,” “Skin Color,” “Spit Ball,” “I Wear Pink,” “We Can Bounce,” “Some Gifts,” and “Gotta Be Somewhere.” This bouncy, lively album will have listeners wishing they were also on this fun camping trip.  

Website: http://peteralsop.com/

Sunday, October 11, 2020



Bounce. Performed by Suzanne Jamieson. CD. Approx. 42 min. Pop Up City Records. 2020. K – Grade 5

            Award-winning musical theater graduate Jamieson performs 11 upbeat, high energy original songs (co-written with Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein) in an 80’s influenced pop style. The guest musicians include the Alphabet Rockers, Patti Murin, and The Pop Ups. Background instrumentalists give excellent performances on guitar, saxophone, flute, drums, and other instruments, and with a heavy bass beat. A few younger voices can also be heard on some of the songs. One should “Bounce” back from failures, like Albert Einstein and Oprah (I could not understand the other names). One child is “Grateful” for her shoes, big stuffed bear, cookie dough, and toys. No matter what happens or gets in the way, when life hands a person lemons, they should make “Lemonade.” Although scared or shy, one should be “Brave” and try something new anyway. One should do a “Gut Check” to determine if something is the right thing to do. “You Got This” is about coping with scary situations. “Happy Feels” describes things and events that make one happy, such as puppy dog kisses, ice cream sundaes and movie night with the family. “Luna” features a fantastic melancholy sax solo. “Om Shanti” appeals to yoga for comfort. The other songs are “High Hopes” and “Pure Energy.” This energetic, positive album will have listeners singing and dancing along with the songs.

Website: https://suzannejamiesonsings.com/

Jamieson appeals to yoga philosophy for peace and so on. This reviewer suggests that she look to the Bible instead, and put her trust in Jesus Christ instead of a false religion. Only He can bring true peace and hope to a person's life.

Friday, October 9, 2020

 Hey Big World. Performed by Wendy & DB. CD. Approx. 43 min. Tigerlily Music. 2020. Price: CD: $15.00.  K – Grade 3

            Parents Choice and NAPPA award-winning Wendy Morgan and Darryl Boggs perform 15 high energy pop and jazz songs that feature travel, science, language, and the arts. In addition to terrific vocals, the instrumentalists give excellent performances on guitar, ukulele, violin, bass, piano, keyboards, accordion, saxophone, drums, and percussion. An enthusiastic children’s chorus joins in on many of the songs. Wendy and DB take listeners on a fun road trip in “Hey Big World,” traveling in a car, airplane, and ship. Listeners learn about a couple of different types of “Clouds.” Dance in the farmyard with the animals, with a “Clap Tap.” Sing and dance “La Dey Da” in English and Spanish. “Gibberito” is about making up fun nonsense words, such as goo balee gahp. One creates music “From the Heart.” Form a “Kitchen Band” with spoons, pots, pans, and beans in a jar. It doesn’t matter what size or shape a “Home” is as long as there is love inside. A child is afraid of the “Ghost in the Closet.” Listeners are encouraged to “Get Outside” to play. DB performs a great cover of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Disney’s Mary Poppins. Listeners learn about the forces of “Gravity.” The “Giralephant,” a giraffe/elephant hybrid, shares its woes of not fitting in. Listeners are encouraged to practice traffic safety and to always “Stop for the Red Light.” What can one see and hear in the “Night Sky?” This is an excellent addition to Wendy and DB’s previous albums.

Website: https://www.wendyanddb.com/

D. a. d.


D. a. d. Performed by Pierce Freelon. CD. Approx. 40 min. 2020. CD: $15.00. K – Gr 5

            Pierce Freelon, a professor from Durham, NC, performs 11 hip hop songs and 4 voice memos celebrating the relationship of a father with his children. Freelon specializes in sampling sounds from the environment and incorporating it into his music. Special guest musicians include J Gunn, Rissi Palmer, Carlitta Durand, KronoZ Time, Malik Raii, and Ami Kim. “Tuck Me In” has Dad and daughter negotiating bedtime. In “Daddy Daughter Day,” a daughter is treated to a day of self-care and fun. “My Body” teaches children that they are in charge of their own bodies, while “Bubble” teaches them to create boundaries. More songs include “Tooth Brush,” “Swirly Cup,” “Make New Friends” (some are silver and some are gold),  “Gather Your Clothes,” “Movies and Popcorn and Video Games,” “Space Jam,” and “Ascend.” Voice memos “Oatmeal” and “Gather Your Clothes” are rap/chants. Voice memo “Get Well Soon” is a simple song. Voice memo “Phil Freelon” is a recording of Pierce’s father giving some good parenting advice. This unique album will appeal to young millennial parents.  

Website: piercefreelon.com

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Unhurried Journey


Unhurried Journey. Performed by Elena Moon Park. CD. Approx. 53 min. Moonpark Music. 2020. Price: CD: $15; Digital: $12.  All ages

Elena Moon Park performs six appealing original songs that she composed and ten traditional and original songs from Asia. Musical styles are varied, from bluegrass and jazz, to the folk music of various Asian countries. Her wonderful guest musicians are many and hail from the US and Asia: Elizabeth Mitchell, Dan Zanes, Sonia De Los Santos, Barbara Brousal, Claudia Eliaza, Yorn Young, Kyungso Park, Gamin, Akiko Hiroshima, Sumie Kaneko, Annie Chen, and Peni Candra Rini. The variety of musical instruments used is staggering and the performances are outstanding: acoustic & electric guitars, pedal steel guitar, mandolin, banjo, cello, violin, upright bass, piano, organ, musical saw, jarana, shamisen, pipa, gayageum, tro ou, flute, piri, fue, saenghwang, trumpet, gongs, trombone, French horn, vibes, roneat, marimbol, accordion, synthesizer, mellotron, drums, taiko, shakers, and percussion. The original songs are in English, while most of the Asian songs are in the language of the country, with some English translation. In “Brilliant New Idea,” everyone shares songs, stories, and new ideas. The “Flower Dance” (Cambodian folk song) is dedicated to springtime flowers floating on a lake. On an “Unhurried Journey,” we enjoy looking at trees and changing leaves, and feeling breezes. “Sae Taryeong,” a Korean folk song, celebrates springtime with people watching birds flying and listening to their songs. A light-hearted original Japanese song, “Ito Maki” tells about making underwear for a bear, pants for elephants, and fluffy socks for a fox. “Dia Mal Ka” (original Taiwanese  song) tells of children rambling down a tarry street, while smelling stew cooking. “Flying Starfish” are flying free but can return to the sea to be with family. A Korean folk song, “Springtime in My Hometown,” celebrates springtime blossoms, wheat fields, singing birds, and the springtime harvest. There are people saying I can’t be me, “Let It Come, Let It Go,” let it drift in the river and flow. In “Musikaru Ride to the Mountain,” a family of four take a hot air balloon ride, letting the wind carry them along. “Pong Dang Pong Dang” is a fun Korean song about skipping stones, then watching them cause ripples and make waves in the stream. “Hanagasa Ondo” is a Japanese folk song that accompanies a dance performed with a flower straw hat. “Gong Xi Gong Xi” was written to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year by shouting ‘Congratulations!’ (Gong Xi). You and me, we’ll meet in a dream “Underneath the Marshmallow Tree.” In the Indonesian folk song, “Count the Waves,” a child tries to catch a butterfly, but it slips away. What a wonderful way to introduce American children to the variety of musical styles of Asia. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Backyard Bop


Backyard Bop. Performed by Red Yarn. CD. Approx. 39 min. Red Yarn Productions. 2020. Price: CD: $12; Digital: $9.  K – Grade 5

            Red Yarn, aka Andy Furgeson, performs 12 lively original songs in rockabilly and folk rock musical styles. Yarn and his backup musicians, which includes Grammy-winning Dean Jones, make beautiful music on electric and acoustic guitars, pedal steel guitar, bass, upright bass, organ, cello, violin, sax, trombone, balafon, drums, and percussion.  Yarn’s country accent enhances these down-home, delightful songs. The title song, “Backyard Bop,” encourages families to dance in their backyard. Everyone should rise and shine, make some noise, dance with freedom, and “Jump for Joy.” The “Mama Bird” can sing like the spring, wing through the sky and spin a circle around the sun. Everyone is playing tag, riding on skateboards, and tilting on the see-saw in the “Neighborhood Park.” One can enjoy looking “Outside My Window” and see birds singing, squirrels scampering, and leaves dancing. A family decides to get “Lazy Tonight” and watch a movie while eating popcorn and cookies. A gardener wants all the “Critters in My Garden” to get out and leave his vegetables alone. “Around This Town” people can stroll the streets, meet old friends, and find new friends. Will “Cats & Dogs” ever get along? Something is going on down at the “Town Hall Meeting,” where everyone should respect each other’s opinions. In “My Own Backyard,” a child can imagine washing up on a treasure island and other adventures. Whether a family of rabbits, possums, or humans, everyone needs “Someone to Love.” These heart-felt and soulful offerings are a welcome breath of fresh air during this time of staying at home and social distancing.

Website: www.redyarnproductions.com