Monday, March 31st, 2014
We always get a kick out of Rockabye Baby, which takes music you love as an adult (from The Beatles to Jay Z to Pink) and plays the tunes out on xylophones and bells. It might sound like sacrilege but turns out to be music that appeals to your infant without you getting “Twinkle Twinkle” stuck in your head, which is a blessed relief.
They have some 60 titles at this point, with each CD selling for about $12 to $17 and also available for download on iTunes. There are single MP3s for about $1.30, including Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. (I know it’s probably inappropriate but the picture of their signature bear, blurred, cracks me up.)
Today they are taking us back to London in 1980, presenting a first look of their video for The Clash’s London Calling, done Rockabye-Baby style. Play your newborn The Clash without risk of raised eyebrows, or show your toddler this gentle little one-minute video for a minute of screentime that won’t grate on your nerves.
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Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
It’s video exclusive time! Does your family fight over which Beatle was best? Mine does, and so does Walter Martin’s, which inspired him to write this song, ”The Beatles (When Ringo Shook His Mop).” Side note to Martin: My daughter also roots for Ringo, since she and he were both born on July 7.
Martin, of the band The Walkmen, now has two daughters of his own: Louise, 19 months, and Claire, 5 months. Having two under 2 is “completely crazy, but could be worse,” he says. “They’re good sleepers.” Having those girls also “made me get serious about making a record on my own,” Martin says. “When I started to investigate what kind of record I wanted to make, it happened to be one that would also appeal to them.”
That record, called We’re All Young Together, is available for preorder. In the meantime, we’ve got a fun video to share exclusively, featuring Martin and his buddies putting the song together live. Among them is The Walkmen’s drummer, and “a bunch of old high school friends” who all went into music, says Martin. Their enthusiasm is infections, and the way they layer on the instruments will teach your little rocker something about sounds. Have a listen together!
Here are the tracks on the new album:
01. We’re All Young Together ft. Alec Ounsworth
02. We Like The Zoo (‘Cause We’re Animals Too) ft. Matt Berninger
03. I-M-A-G-I-N-A-T-I-O-N ft. Kat Edmonson
04. Rattlesnakes ft. Karen O and Nick Zinner
05. Sing To Me ft. Karen O
06. The Beatles (When Ringo Shook His Mop) ft. Hamilton Leithauser,
Nick Stumpf, Josh Wise, and Matt Iwanusa
07. If I Were a Tiger ft. Martin McAlevey & Nina Dhongia
08. Costa Rica
09. Hey Sister ft. Kat Edmonson
10. It’s a Dream
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Monday, January 6th, 2014
* By Holly Lebowitz Rossi, of Parents News Now
Did you know that the Grammy Awards has a category called “Best Children’s Album?” And that not one of the five albums nominated this year has anything to do with wheels on busses or Old MacDonald’s farm? These nominees’ work is a testament to the fact that there’s a huge body of award-worthy music out there that parents and kids can enjoy together—without parents fretting about their kids’ desires to “get lucky” or experience “blurred lines.”
All Grammy winners will be announced on Sunday, January 26. The Children’s Music winners won’t be part of the televised award ceremony, but fans can follow along at grammy.com.
Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower
Elizabeth Mitchell, whose “extended family band” includes her 12-year-old daughter, Storey, and her husband Daniel Littleton, is arguably the most influential woman in contemporary children’s music—especially in the genre of acoustic, folk-inspired music that is gentle on the ears and soothing to the soul. Mitchell was the first new children’s music artist signed to the legendary Smithsonian Folkways label in the 21st century, and her original songs, as well as covers of classic tunes, bring to life a world that is beautiful, gentle, and magical—as a child might see it.
“Blue Clouds” is the band’s sixth release, and it’s earned Mitchell a second consecutive year on the Grammy nominee list (last year, her album covering Woody Guthrie’s children’s songs, “Little Seed,” was nominated). “Blue Clouds” includes sweetly sunny versions of the classic folk songs “Froggie Went a-Courtin’” and “Hop Up My Ladies,” a cover of David Bowie’s 1971 song “Kooks,” which Mitchell calls “funny and tender,” a 13th century medieval round called “Summer Is Icumen In,” and a heart-warming musical version of the 1969 Remy Charlip book “Arm in Arm,” in which an octopus couple gets married and lives a happy life of connection and embraces.
The Mighty Sky
Beth Nielsen Chapman
Beth Nielsen Chapman has written songs for Elton John, Bette Midler, and Willie Nelson, and was nominated for a Grammy in 1999 as co-writer of Faith Hill’s hit song “This Kiss.” A breast cancer survivor and environmental activist, Nashville-based Chapman’s latest project had her casting her eyes skyward, and the result—the Grammy-nominated “The Mighty Sky”—is a magical yet scientifically accurate collection of songs that will have listeners gazing at the stars with renewed wonder.
Many of the lush, satisfyingly multi-dimensional lyrics for the album were written by Rocky Alvey, director of the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory in Nashville, and the album features uplifting spoken-word segments from Dr. C.R. O’Dell, the founding scientist of the Hubble Space Telescope, and Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who discovered the radio and electromagnetic wave-emitting celestial bodies called pulsars. The album’s scientific bone fides—plus a playfully official homage to the scientific method, “Test Re-Test and Verify”—will appeal to those who are already interested in astronomy, while the musical fun of songs like “Zodiacal Zydeco” and “Big Bang Boom” will have kids grooving as they learn. And the lovely “There Is No Darkness” could as easily connect with stargazers peering through a telescope as with anyone looking for some comfort and companionship in the universe.
Chicago-based Justin Roberts, a onetime Montessori preschool teacher, is a superstar among young school-aged listeners and their parents, who are drawn to his upbeat, pop sound that is at times reminiscent of pop/rock bands like They Might Be Giants. Roberts and his band (called the Not Ready for Naptime Players) have recorded nine CDs since 1997, and their album “Jungle Gym” was nominated for a Grammy in 2010. The New York Times has called Roberts “the Judy Blume of kiddie rock” for his ability to see the world through a child’s eyes and inspire kids and parents alike through his smart, funny lyrics.
The title track on “Recess” is an electric rock number that perfectly captures the leg-bouncing anticipation kids feel before break time. The other tunes on the album are also originals by Roberts, including “Every Little Step,” a perky love song sung to a child by his beloved dog, and “I’ll Be an Alien,” about how the imagination doesn’t take a break just because it’s dinnertime or time to clean up toys. “Being a kid’s not easy,” sings Roberts, echoing a refrain his audience likely knows very well, “so I’ll be an alien!”
Singing Our Way Through: Songs for the World’s Bravest Kids
Alastair Moock & Friends
In 2012, Boston-based Alastair Moock’s career as a folk- and roots-based children’s musician was taking off when the unthinkable happened to his family—one of his 5-year-old twin daughters, Clio, was diagnosed with leukemia. Almost immediately, Moock turned to music to help his family cope with the road that lay ahead. Today, Clio’s treatment is nearly complete—and, so far, is successful—and the album the journey inspired has earned Moock his first Grammy nomination. Proceeds from album sales have enabled Moock to donate more than 2,000 copies of the album to childhood cancer patients and their families at more than 30 hospitals and clinics nationwide.
“Singing Our Way Through” is a roadmap for any family who is walking a difficult road, though it does feature some songs, like the humorous and empowering “When I Get Bald,” that take on cancer directly. A veritable constellation of children’s music stars join Moock on the album, including fellow Grammy nominee Elizabeth Mitchell and last year’s Grammy winners, the Minnesota-based duo The Okee Dokee Brothers, who appear in a rollicking cover of Woody Guthrie’s famous song “Hard Travelin’.” Much of the album is upbeat, like the song, “B-R-A-V-E,” which Moock refers to as “medical hip hop,” but it also has gorgeously tender tracks, like the achingly beautiful “Home When I Hold You,” a duet with fellow Boston folk/bluegrass artist Aoife O’Donovan.
Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well
Montreal-based singer-songwriter Jennifer Gasoi loves music—all kinds of music. Classically trained in piano and an accomplished jazz singer, Gasoi pours her life-loving energy into her children’s music. “Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well,” Gasoi’s second album, is a delightfully eclectic mix of original songs from genres including pop, swing, folk, doo wop, bluegrass, gospel, calypso, and one Cuban-flavored song, “Purple Man,” that Gasoi describes simply as “a madcap whirlwind.”
Gasoi’s rich, engaging voice gives life to the lessons embedded in her songs, which include living in the present moment (“I’m a Bubble,” “The Little Things”), embracing curiosity and imagination (“Red Balloon,” “How Does Pink Lemonade Get Pink?”), and cultivating awareness of how our actions affect the world around us (“Buttercup,” “Hey There Joe”).
By the end of the month we’ll know which of these albums takes home the prize! In the meantime, you can catch Elizabeth Mitchell teamed with Grammy winner Dan Zanes in our Parents world-premiere video, “Turn, Turn, Turn.”
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Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
Family-music heavyweights Elizabeth Mitchell (recently Grammy-nominated for Blue Clouds) and Dan Zanes (a Grammy winner for Catch That Train!) collaborated to record this beautiful update of Pete Seeger’s classic folk song, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” The orignal was written by Seeger in the late 1950s using Bible verses that remind us “to every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Before you fret about modern singers messing with the masterpiece, be reassured that the lyrics of this 2013 version were written by Seeger’s wife, Toshi, before she passed away in July at the age of 91 (days shy of their 70th wedding anniversary).
Sample lyrics that make this gorgeous rendition appealing to parents and kids include, “a time to teach, a time to learn, a time for all to take their turn.” It goes on to gently reminder us that there are times when we can play and get dirty, times when we celebrate and times when we cry, and times when we should just sit and rest. During the holiday season, when we all strive for peace but end up running around like crazy, the words cut to the heart of things.
Elizabeth Mitchell’s young daughter Storey shares singing duties; you’ll also see Mitchell’s husband Dan Littleton playing guitar. It’s a family affair, which makes the song all the sweeter. We’re thrilled to have exclusive dibs on this world premiere!
So without further ado…here is the video, watch it with your own little ones!
Here’s where you can buy Turn, Turn Turn.
And watch more of Mitchell and Zanes on YouTube.
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