Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Nature Child: A Dreamer's Journey


Nature Child: A Dreamer’s Journey. Performed by Sylvia Hutton. CD. Approx. 46 min. Red Pony Records. 2022. CD: $16.99; Digital: unknown. All ages

    Sylvia’s beautiful, rich, alto vocals and gorgeous harmonies give voice to 12 lovely songs with enchanting melodies and uplifting lyrics. The excellent background musicians enhance the songs with outstanding performances on various guitars, bass, mandolin, ukulele, violin, viola, cello, upright bass, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, trumpet, French horn, bodhran, concertina, tin whistles, uilleann pipes, and percussion in pop, Celtic, and symphonic musical styles. Just beyond the golden sunset there’s a magic land shining like a polished diamond; they call it “Avalon.” The place where dreams begin, “Imagination,” is your friend and sets you free to be what you want to be. “Every Time a Train Goes By” a small child runs and hides, until the day she sees one in her backyard. You can do anything, “Don’t Be Afraid to Dream,” and don’t be afraid to try. “If I Only Had Wings” I would follow the little bird in the sky. You’ve come home my “Nature Child,” for so long you have been away. Catch a handful of stardust, sail down and play for a while, close your eyes and you’ll find us, “Dancing Over an Emerald Isle.” “Home Is” wherever I sail my boat. You’re one of a kind, and you’re “My Best Friend” even though we are so different from each other. “Good Night, Sleep Tight My Little One,” sweet dreams await in Avalon. It’s time to stretch and yawn and roll out of bed and be on our way because “(Hey, Hey, Hey) It’s a New Day.”  We’re friends for all time; “I Love You For Who You Are;” there’s nothing I’d change about you. A fabulous production that the whole family can enjoy together.


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Maybe By Next Year


Maybe by Next Year. Performed by Kid Pan Alley. CD. Approx. 32 min. Kid Pan Alley Music. 2021. CD: $14.98.  Grades 1-5

            Kid Pan Alley (Ryan Benyo and Paul Reisler) invited children to write lyrics about their experiences during the past couple of years of social isolation, mask wearing, and vaccines, which were formed into these 11 memorable songs. Although no credits are given for the instrumentalists, the background music is an excellent accompaniment to these pop songs. The professional vocalists include Natalia Zukerman, Justin Roth, Darrell Scott, Kyle Davis, Randy Kaplan, Michael Lille, Robbie Schaefer, Vanessa Bryan, Jen Jacobsen, Billy Jonas, and Ben Mason. In “The Day the Stars Reached the Earth” listeners are encouraged to take care of the Earth. “Maybe Next Year” I’ll be able to see your smile or frown. “Dead on Arrival” is my social life until I get my vaccination. I’m “Staring Out My Window” and dreaming of when I played with others at school or home. When the pandemic is over, I’m going to “Tear My Mask” into little bitty pieces. “Small Things Make a Difference” in a world where love shines through the darkness. The “Bridge to Peace” is a foundation made of empathy, and a road paved with trust, support and understanding. A bird singing in the window helped the narrator realize there is “No Limit on Hope,” and the sunshine melted her tears. “I’ve Got a Whole Lot to Say” but no one to say it to. “I Think I Blinked” the day I learned the truth that I was adopted. Many are dreaming of the time when we can be “Together Again” and we don’t have to stay six feet away. These fine songs will reassure listeners that they are not alone in these trying times.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Sharon, Lois & Bram: Best of the Best Live


Sharon, Lois & Bram: Best of the Best Live. Performed by Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein & Bram Morrison. Approx. 63 min. Red Brick Songs. 2021. CD: $13.99; CAD: $14.99; Digital: $12.99. Ages 2 – 7

            This excellent compilation of the multi-award-winning Canadian trio’s live performances from 1989—1995 features 32 of their best-known songs. Listeners will also hear much interaction between the trio and their various audiences. Most of the songs encourage some kind of listener participation and are in various musical styles, including jig, boogie Woogie, jazz, folk, and bluegrass. The backup musicians perform with excellence on  fiddle, banjo, bass, keys, saxophone, clarinet, flute and drums. Song titles and medleys include: “Rig A Jig Jig/One Elephant, Deus Éléphants,” “Did You Bring Your Singing Voice?/Short, Long & Beard,” “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain,” “Alphabet Song/ABC Jig,” “Rags,” “Monday Night the Banjo,” “Going to the Zoo/Five Little Monkeys,” “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes/Head & Shoulders, Baby,” “How Much is That Doggie in the Window,” “I Am Slowly Going Crazy,” “Old King Cole,” “Flea Fly Mosquito/Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me/Shoo-Fly Pie,” “If I Could Have a Windmill,” “Ballin’ the Jack,” “Skip to My Loo/Put Your Finger in the Air/Eensy Weensy Spider,” “Hucklebuck,” “Jack Was Every Inch a Sailor,” “Peanut Butter and Jelly,” “Dirty Old Bill/Miss Lucy,” “CHICKEN/Grandpa’s Farm,” “Skinnamarink,” and “Hey Dum Diddeley Dum.” This album will bring back wonderful memories for older fans and create new ones for young listeners. 


Tuesday, November 9, 2021



Seconds. Performed by Ben Tatar and the Tatar Tots. Approx. 33 min. 2021. CD: $10; Digital: $10. Ages 4—8

     Ben Tatar performs 10 original lively and energetic songs in New Orleans jazz, 70s Latin, funk, blues, pop, big band swing, and rhumba musical styles. These are very sophisticated tunes for children’s’ songs about food. Tatar and his guest vocalists, Anthony Bruno and Amyna Love, make some beautiful harmonies together. Guest bands LowDown Brass Band and Spare Parts join other musicians to make excellent performances on guitar, banjo, bass, tenor sax, clarinet, flute, trombone, trumpet, sousaphone, keys, Glockenspiel, drums, and percussion. The flavor of “Jambalaya” sends a melody to his soul, and he has music to play all night. “Peanut Butter” joins with jelly to make the taste complete. In answer to “Can You Write a Song About Broccoli,” he tried a million times to write broccoli rhymes, but the universe told him “no.” When “I Got the Greens,” I hit the salad bar and got spinach, lettuce, avocado, lima beans, and other greens. The musical style of “The Breakfast Song (Start It Right)” is reminiscent of the 70s band America. “Bake Me a Cake” or a pie, I shouldn’t need a reason why. I’m going “Back to the Buffet” to stack food a mile high: enchiladas, lima beans, pasta, oranges, greens, with syrup on veggies, and sprinkling bacon on fruit. Every morning, noon, and night, and every time I’m feeling uptight, I’m “Thinking of Pizza.” In “Oh Cookie,” Tatar sings the praises of chocolate chip cookies, avocados (holy guacamole), mashed potatoes, and enchiladas. “Sweet Nectarine” bring up close your fuzzy, peachy cheek. These fun sophisticated, bouncy songs will have the kids, parents, and grandparents all dancing, bobbing their heads, and tapping their feet.


Friday, November 5, 2021



Smörgåsbord. Performed by Louis & Dan and the Invisible Band. CD. Approx. 21 min. 2021. CD: $12.00; Digital: $12.00. Ages 8 up

Louis Epstein and Daniel Groll perform 8 original songs in musical styles influenced by hip hop, musical theater, indie rock, country, Tin Pan Alley, and folk. Clarinet, Glockenspiel, and drums are the only instruments credited, but the back-up musicians are excellent. “The New Invisible Band” introduces the band members and the roles they play. “I’m a Turkey” should have been the national bird but lost out to the eagle. “Mind Your Money” tells children how to grow their money by saving, investing, and budgeting (Louis & Dan seem to be in favor of evil socialism). “Happy Day” celebrates different holidays, including graduation, birthday, epiphany, Oktoberfest, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and many others. “Minneapolis the Musical City” extolls the talents of the Andrews Sisters, Judy Garland, Olive Fremstad (opera soprano), and several other musicians. “What Is a Family” includes a variety of family types, such as nuclear families, single parent families, and families with adoptees. In “Joy to the World,” an adventurous lady travels to many places, including Rome, Stockholm, Morocco, Tijuana, Puerto Rico, Italy, Beijing, Thailand, Peru, Paris, Toronto, Antigua, Norway, and others. “I’ll Take Myself to Bed” says the child wanting to give his parents a break. A humorous and enjoyable album.


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Sing Your Song


Sing Your Song. Performed by Harmonica Pocket. CD. Approx. 43 min. 2021. CD: $12.99; Digital: $9.99. Ages 2—8

Two-time Parents’ Choice Gold Award-winner, Keeth Monta Apgar (aka Harmonica Pocket), performs 11 original songs, 1 traditional song (“Twinkle, Twinkle”), and one cover, all with memorable and appealing melodies. On this 5th album for children, his pleasant and smooth vocals blend in beautiful harmonies with his guest singers, Renee Stahl, his wife Nala Walla and son Montana Apgar. And occasionally, he lets rip an amazing falsetto. Apgar and his guest instrumentalists perform on guitars, ukulele, upright bass, bass, alto and baritone saxophones, trombone, harmonica, drums, percussion, Glockenspiel, and caxixi, in pop rock, country and folk musical styles. In “Sing Your Song,” you may not sound like everybody else, but you sound just like yourself, so open up your mouth and sing. “One Two I Love You” and three, four, couldn’t love you more. “Nest” celebrates a couple of birds building a nest (with bird chirps). In the “Sand Song” the narrator has sand in his hair, underwear, nose, between his toes, and he'd love to share if you’d care for some. In “Everything is Everywhere” the narrator lists a plethora of misplaced body parts, such as his nose is in his ear, etc. “Take a Little Finger” is a spoken poem in which listeners are asked to draw figures in the air and clap. In “Apples on the Sun,” one can taste apples that are growing on the sun and smell flowers that are blooming on the moon. In “Itchy 9,” the narrator suffers from itches all over his body (with sounds of scratching). “I Can Be the Princess” and you can be the violin; I can be the bird and you can be the flower, but I prefer to be me. The cover of “Stand by Me” features lots of harmonica. “Wee a Tilly” begins with the sounds of wind chimes, then avows apart or together, love you forever. The “Ukulele Lullaby” sings little ones to sleep. A lovely and beautifully executed album.


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Frogs and Birds

Frogs and Birds. Performed by Lindsay Munroe. CD. Approx. 31 min. Troubadour Music. 2021. CD: $12.98; Digital: $9.98. Ages 4—8

Award-winning Lindsay Munroe, mother of three children with autism, performs 14 lovely songs, three of which are covers of classic songs: “You Are My Sunshine,” “If I Knew You Were Coming,” and “Happy Trails.” Munroe wrote her songs to highlight encouragement, understanding, and respect for others, and to help neurodiverse children cope with every day events. Munroe is joined on several songs by Raffi, who also produced the album, and performed on guitar, ukulele, electric piano, violin, and other instruments. Munroe, with her clear and light soprano vocals, and Raffi harmonize beautifully together on several of these folk, jazz, pop, and other musical-style songs. In “Frogs and Birds,” including sound effects of chirping birds and croaking frogs, Munroe’s youngest daughter joins her in encouraging listeners to be aware of the feelings of others. “Faces Show Our Feelings” explains how facial expressions reveal interior emotions. “Feelings Like the Weather” reassures listeners that feelings may be only temporary and will pass away like bad weather. “Little Bird On My Window” has a motif from Brahms’ Lullaby as the chorus. “Flexible and Easygoing” encourages listeners to handle unexpected changes and disruptions to routines with calmness. “I See You” and hear you and respond to what you do and say. “The Ally Song” explains that an ally is a friend who is kind, who listens, and who respects others. “Conversations” are meant for two speaking and listening to each other. “Very Funny Things” realizes that children can take some idioms, such as “it’s a piece of cake,” “hold your horses,” and “raining cats and dogs” very literally. “Take a Breath,” (written by Raffi), tells listeners that they can calm down by breathing in and out. “Where There Is Love” we belong, in a family or in a community. This sweet and entertaining album, while excellent for all children, will be especially reassuring for neurodiverse children.