Sunday, April 28, 2019


Earworm. Performed by Sean McCollough. CD. Approx. 44 min. Label: Little Thing Records. 2019. CD: $12; Digital: $7.
K – Gr 5

Host of the Kidstuff Show on Knoxville radio, award-winning Sean wrote and performs 8 of these songs and covers 5 more. He demonstrates his versatility in roots music, including blues, bluegrass, African-American string band, and chant; with some rock, pop, and jazz as well. The excellent backup musicians perform on guitar, banjo, piano, keyboard, lap dulcimer, fiddle, cello, mandolin, upright bass, electric bass, piccolo, trombone, marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, drums, African drums, and percussion. An “Earworm” is a song that is stuck in your head. “All Kinds of Singing” is swell. Molly Ledford of Lunch Money joins Sean in her song about the structure called the “Sunsphere” left over from the 1982 Knoxville Worlds Fair. The alphabet helps people write songs and stories in “ABC (The Writing Song).” In “Don’t Let ‘Em Get Yer Goat,” listeners are advised that it doesn’t matter what others think about you. “Her Name Was Lady” tells about Sean’s childhood pet goats Lady, Pablo, and Jackie (the bully goat). This jazzy minor tune warns listeners about the “Fuzzy Brown Vine (aka Poison Ivy).” Don’t worry about the “Rag Doll” because it is not fragile like a china doll. Sean tells the story of how he used to get “Carsick” on long trips. Billy Jonas gives a command performance on his “bucket kit” percussion about traffic lights in “Green Means Go.” The narrator gives suggestions for fun, from “Let’s Give a Party,” to going fishing or going to the park. The “Kidstuff Theme Song” emphasizes that music makes life better. In “Big Ears,” listeners are encouraged to open their mind, heart, eyes, and ears. A wonderful and quirky album that is fun for the whole family.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Love Is Te Quiero

Love Is Te Quiero. Performed by Alina Celeste. CD. Approx. 35 min. Label: Lion Mice Productions. 2019. CD: $11.99; Download: $9.99.
PreS-Grade 4

Cuban-American Alina Celeste, performs 11 songs, some bright and lively, some sweet and gentle on her third album. The backup musicians give excellent performances on guitar, bass, ukulele, piano, celeste, upright bass, flute, drums, tiny drums, percussion, washboard, whistle, glockenspiel, and accordion; in folk, pop, bluegrass, Caribbean, and Latin musical styles. “Love Is” buying a loved one a gift, kissing a scraped knee, and keeping a child safe when they are afraid of the dark. Sung in Spanish, “Vaca Lechera” is about a magical cow that gives milkshakes instead of milk. “Clap Hands” encourages listeners to clap hands, rock heads, bounce, jump, and knock their knees. Another song with movement, “Baila Conmigo” encourages listeners to dance, move their feet, jump and move their arms. “Chito and Abu” love to play all kinds of games together. “Kitty Catchie,” an adaptation of the American folk song “King Kong Kitchie,” tells of a frog that catches cold and a dog that is scared of the dark. We are all just a little piece of “Stardust.” Celeste includes two traditional Spanish folk songs, “Debajo De Un Botón ,” and “Los Pollitos.” The final two songs are also in Spanish: “Coquinas” (about seashells in the shape of butterflies) and “Te Quiero.” Celeste’s album celebrates bilingual life but is also for those who speak only Spanish or English.

Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline

Curious: Think Outside the Pipeline. Performed by Ants on a Log. CD. Approx. 48 min. Label: Ant Hill. 2019. CD: $13.99; Download: $9.49.
Grades 1 - 7

Ants on a Log (Julie Beth and Anya Rose) present a musical that combines expert narration, expressive voice acting and songs in pop and country musical styles to convey the story. The characters are convincingly portrayed by Julie, Anya, Kathy O’Connell, Lucy Kalantari, John McCutcheon, Manny Gonzalez, Sterling Duns, and narrated by Peter Rose. The background instruments include guitar, bass, flute, drums, percussion. The story is based on a true situation that occurred in Philadelphia. A couple of men are planning to expand an oil refinery in a small town. But Clio realizes that the current refinery is already causing many people in the community to get sick, including her sister, Taylor, whose asthma is getting worse. After doing some research and writing letters, Clio and Taylor rally the community to stand up against the expansion. They also offer some alternatives, such as solar and wind power. In the end, the expansion is stopped. The story is very one-sided, painting people in the oil industry as greedy and ruthless, and as wanting to ruin the environment. Otherwise, the musical will encourage young people to stand up for whatever cause they are fighting for.

Thursday, April 18, 2019


Kindred. Performed by Renee & Friends. CD. Approx. 30 min. Label: One Melody Records. 2019. Price: CD or download: $13.98.
Grades K and up

Soaring and heartfelt vocals, with beautiful harmonies, are the hallmark of these 11 outstanding songs, nine originals written by Renee Stahl and two covers. The songs are performed in several musical styles: rock folk, pop, soft shoe, and rap. Renee is joined by several guest vocalists, including Ziggy Marley, Lisa Loeb, Elizabeth Mitchell, Christ Stills, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Jeremy Toback, and Jennifer Paskow. Several songs also feature children’s voices. Tom Rossi performs most of the background instruments, with assistance from other musicians on guitar, bass, upright bass, violin, cello, horns, drums, cymbals, and glockenspiel. Sung in a round, “Kindness” is cool. Those who want to change the “Super Fragile World” should also think about changing themselves. Ziggy Marley performs a wonderful cover of a Cat Stevens classic--“Where Do the Children Play?” The future “Leaders of the World” stand up for what they believe in. “Home” is the place I love. “Kindred” is family that makes one laugh when they’re feeling blue, and with whom one’s heart is free. “Nothing and No One” can  ever take away my love. An ant can’t move a rubber tree plant, but he has “High Hopes” in this cover of a classic Sammy Cahn tune. “Be Curious” about the big wide world. You can “Rely” on me. “How Did You Get So?” sweet, big, strong, smart, and beautiful, asks a mother of her child. This smooth and thoughtful album, so easy on the ears, will appeal as much to adults as to children.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Shake It and Break It

Shake It and Break It. Performed by Randy Kaplan. CD. Approx. 55 min. Label: Yellow Thing Records &
Books. 2019. CD: $11.99; Digital: $9.99.
K – Gr 7

Multiple award-winning Randy Kaplan has borrowed songs from classic blues men of yore and reworked their lyrics to be appropriate for children. These men include John Hurt, Charlie Patton, John Lee Hooker, Tampa Red, Blind Blake, Robert Johnson, Skip James, Dave Van Ronk, and Mance Lipscomb. The musical styles feature country blues, ragtime, and Delta blues. The result is that Kaplan presents 12 story songs in which he both sings and speaks. “Candy Man Blues” warns those who eat candy all the time that they will end up with bad teeth and bad health. “Shake It and Break It” is the story of an indestructible jelly roll. In “Boogie Chillen,” Kaplan looks for places to boogie, such as schools and libraries. In “It Hurts Me Too (Sitting on Top of the World)” parents empathize with their injured children at the playground. “Doing a Stretch” is not about spending time in prison but is about one man’s stretching routine in the morning (complete with rubber band SFX). In “Chicken Chump Blues” a child who doesn’t want to jump into murky, slimy lake at camp is called a “chicken chump.” A stray dog that is rescued by a child and becomes a family dog, sings “Been Your Dog.”  Kaplan also sings a verse in Canine, with barks and growls. The “Roll and Tumble Blues” is a silly story/song about a pet monkey who loves to eat muffins, but since there is also a pet cat in the home whose name is “Muffin,” he freaks out whenever the monkey asks to “eat muffins.” Baby “Crow Jane” (whose crying can be heard in the background) has insomnia and will not nap despite her daddy’s best efforts. “From Four Until Late” tells about a boy who, while his parents are away, stays with his Granny, who does things much differently than his parents. “Swinging on a Star” includes spoken comments from a mule, pig, fish, and monkey. After singing the chorus of “Little Brown Jug,” Kaplan begins rambling about how one should be concise and germane, and other silly ramblings about juice, aliases, tangents, etc. This outstanding album not only will have children laughing but also introduce them to blues music.  

Quiet Night

Quiet Night. CD. Performed by Angela James. Approx. 25 min. Prod. by Queen Anne Music. 2019. CD and Digital: $10.00. ISBN unavail.
Infant-toddler and parents

            Angela James creates eight lovely, dreamy lullabies, not only to help babies sleep, but also to calm weary and emotional parents. “Hummingbird” and “Hattie’s Dream,” both instrumental pieces, open and close the album; which is performed in gentle, soothing tones. The backup musicians give excellent performances on  melodic instruments including guitar, bass clarinet, bassoon, and vibraphone. The songs depict the onset of night time, with everything in the city slowing down; a baby being the center of a parent's universe; parental promises to stay near their baby; holding the baby close until the birds sing, and the sun rises; and sleep likened to sailing as the parent rocks the baby to sleep. Song titles include "Goodnight, My Honey;" "Sun and Moon;" "You're Always at Home;" "Sweetest Bird;" "Quiet Night;" and "Sailing." Angela’s deep rich alto voice will soothe and lull young ones to sleep as well as help de-stress parents.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Thunder In My Arms

Thunder in My Arms. Performed by Lissa Schneckenburger. CD. Approx. 38 min. Label: Footprint Records. 2019. Price: CD: $15; DL: $10.

I am not especially interested in reviewing music for adults, but I made an exception for this album, as it also involves children. Lissa Schneckenburger wrote these 10 songs especially for adoptive and foster parents who care for children with developmental trauma. She wanted to communicate the emotion of these parents and children through music. Lissa’s clear, strong vocals are perfect for these pop rock tunes. The instrumental musicians back her up with professional expertise on guitar, violin, viola, cello, upright bass, saxophone and unspecified woodwinds, trumpet, trombone, organ, and drums. “Look Away” exposes the raw emotions of a child who is either in a foster home or an orphanage. In “On My Own,” a child reminisces about his original family (but not in a good way). The love of a parent for her adopted child begins “Since the Day We Met,” and she promises she will always be there. Although “The 11th Labor of Hercules” is billed as using the Greek myth as a metaphor, it reminded me of the story of “Tam Lin;” in this case, the child turns into various vicious beasts, but the mother hangs on to him anyway. In “I Need Us Together,” it’s unclear whether the parent is keeping the child calm, or vice versa. The narrator uses various methods to deal with stressful situations in “Feel Better.” A biological parent mourns for the child she/he gave up when “They Sent Me a Picture.” A parent promises that “I’ll Stick Around.” A parent and child alternate their reminiscences, including the anniversary of the adoption as they “Blow Out the Candles.” Finally, “When My Baby Cries” describes how the different moods of the baby—crying, smiling, laughing—affect the parent. Schneckenburger’s music will be of great comfort to these parents, as well as bring them hope.

Buenos Diaz

Buenos Diaz. Performed by The Lucky Band . CD. Approx. 30 min. Label: Rainy Day Dime Music. 2019. Price: CD: $13.99; DL: $9.49.
Pre-S—Gr 5

     Latin Grammy winners Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis are the heart of The Lucky Band, and here perform ten energetic original songs and 1 cover in rock and various Latin styles including Tropicalia and bossa nova. The band members give excellent instrumental performances on guitar, bass, piano, organ, Moog, drums, percussion, kazoo, harmonica, and even toy piano. Most of the songs are bilingual, with Spanish being the dominant language. “Buenos Días” introduces greetings and the hours of the day. “Nacho Song” tells about a man and how he created nachos. “Pan Dulce” is dynamite! “Cómo Se Dice” translates several English words and phrases into Spanish, such as “heart,” “cheese,” and “star.” It is time to learn the taco dance on “Taco Tuesday.” To make hot cocoa and chocolate cake, one must “Mix It Up.” A dance song, “El Corazon” encourages listeners to follow the dance movements. “El Sol Te Siga” is a cover of “Sun Will Follow” by Pianosaurus. “Wake Up,” “Zapatitos,” and “Estrellita” are all in Spanish. In addition to being fun to listen to, this album could help those learning Spanish or English.