Must-Hear Music Monday: Mister Rabbit by Caspar Babypants

Caspar Babypants’ New Kids’ Books

Bunny Rabbit in the SunlightDid you know that Caspar Babypants is now writing kids’ books? It’s true!

I’m sure you’ve noticed that all of Caspar’s album covers are beautifully illustrated with paper cut out pictures. All of those adorable little creatures were created by Caspar’s, that is Chris Ballew’s, real wife, Kate Endle.

So doesn’t it make perfect sense that they would team up to create a couple of bright, colorful, and fun-to-read books for kids? Of course it does!

With Kate illustrating and Caspar writing, these two new books are perfectly balanced and delightfully beautiful. Bunny Rabbit in the Sunlight is a simple board book for little guys and My Woodland Wish is a longer book for bigger guys.

Both are adorable and both follow a similar theme: pictures of cutey pie wild animals and rhymes about what those animals do (and how much we want to play with them).

Plus, each book comes with a FREE Caspar Babypants song that you can download at Caspar’s website.

And speaking of all things cute, bunny, and Caspar Babypants… have you seen the video for Mister Rabbit?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Must-Hear Music Monday: Sing Along with Caspar Babypants

Sing Along with Caspar Babypants

Caspar Babypants is preparing to release his fourth awesome kids album, Sing Along, on August 16th.

Is this one really good just like all his others? Why, yes it is! Caspar has a great approach to kids music: keep it simple so little kids can sing or bounce along, but make it interesting for grown ups, too. What a concept!

You’ll see this approach in songs like “Ba Ba Black Sheep” and “Ring Around the Rosie“, songs everyone knows but that get a new twist on this album. He also takes subjects even the littlest listeners can relate to, like “Crawling, and turns them into fun songs!

But one of my favorite things about Caspar Babypants is that he seems to be friends with just about everyone in the music industry (he must be a nice guy) and they all want to help him out with his albums. Weird Al Yankovic plays accordion on “Long Long Dream” and has created an amazing accordion solo, plus the beautiful Frances England helps out on a couple songs too, my favorite being “Sun Go“.

But the very, very best song on the album without a doubt is Rachel Loshak’sBaby Cloud“. Caspar describes it as “haunting.” It’s just perfect. Go listen to it now.

Caspar says he makes music “to help families sing together and relax and open up and endure stressful times with humor and grace.” You’re doing it, Caspar. Keep up the good work!

Sing Along will be available August 16th.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Must-Hear Music Monday: Down at the Zoo

Down at the Zoo

Down at the ZooOne of my favorite bands is Belle and Sebastian and one of my all time favorite albums is Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Yes, I suppose that is music for grown ups, but my son loves this album, too!

Anyway, when I heard that Mick Cooke of Belle and Sebastian was creating kids’ albums I just had to check it out! Recording under the name Too Many Cookes, Mick’s newest album is Down at the Zoo and it’s just lovely.

The album is all about animals and their antics in the zoo. Elephants, monkeys, alligators… they’re all here. The lyrics are simple and wonderful fare for preschoolers and toddlers. Easy to sing to and full of life and imagery.

But what I really like is the quality of the music itself. The horns are tremendous throughout the album and it’s fun to talk to your kids about the different instruments you can hear in each song. My favorite song on the album has to be Sarah the Seal. Just so happy and free!

Check out the new album on the Down at the Zoo Facebook page and listen to one of the songs from the album here: We are the Tigers.

By the way, did you know that tigers like to eat chocolate pie?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Must-Hear Music Monday: New Video by Renee & Jeremy

Share This Video

Renee & Jeremy are simply awesome as is. Their music is melodic and beautiful. But they also seem to know all of the coolest artists around and when their songs are accompanied by animation… well, it’s perfection.

See for yourself:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Ben Rudnick & Friends: 10 Years of Great Music!

Ben Rudnick & Friends Video

Check out this video shot live at the Ben Rudnick & Friends 10th Anniversary show:

Editors note: Ben Rudnick and Friends will be at the 5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival at the Cummington Fairgrounds on Saturday, May 14th, performing on the new Hilltown Families Family Stage at 1:30pm!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Planting Seeds: Music that Celebrates Gardening

Maria & Friends: Planting Seeds

Planting Seeds - Must Hear Music Monday Column

One of our favorite artists, Maria Sangiolo, has gotten a bunch of her friends together to create a new album all about farms and gardens.

The resulting project, Planting Seeds, is an amazing compilation of songs about the earth, gardening, and eating right.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this CD is also going to benefit the good work of the Northeast Organic Farming Association.

This album is both beautiful and fun and not at all preachy. Maria and her friends (including Rani Arbo, Alastair Moock, and SteveSongs) teach kids all about nature and growing your own food. My favorite song on the album, Didn’t Know What I Was Missing, a duet between Alastair and Lori McKenna, really gets to the point. Until you’ve had a tomato you’ve grown yourself, you just don’t know how good a tomato can be. And I can attest to that since we planted our first vegetable garden last year!

We’ve got plans for a HUGE garden this year. We’re planting tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, radishes, spinach, zucchini… and what ever else we can fit! This could be a great project for your family, too. Listen to the songs on the album and begin planning your garden now. By the time you’re ready to get your hands dirty in May you’ll know all the songs by heart!

Here’s to a prolific garden Dancin’ in the Breeze!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Lullabies to Lull Your Kids to La-La Land

Sleepy Kids’ Lullabies

Sleeping baby.

Getting your kids to sleep can be a real challenge. Some parents are blessed with children who simply fall asleep on their own, sleep all night, and probably even take one or two naps a day!

Not me, oh no, getting Ivan to sleep has been hard work. We’ve been through plans and even met with renowned sleep expert Dr. Ferber. I’m happy to report that Ivan now sleeps very well at night, but I do still rely on lullaby music to calm him and get him in a sleeping mood for his afternoon nap.

If you are looking for some sweet, soothing tunes to help lull your kids to sleep, too, here are our favorites:

Charlie Hope’s lullaby CD, World of Dreams, is a wonderful CD for relaxing your child and getting them in the mood for sleep. The songs move from one to the other very nicely so there aren’t any jarring shifts and Charlie’s voice is simply beautiful.

If you haven’t already been listening non-stop to Charlie’s other CD, I’m Me!, then you’ve been missing out! And if you have, then you already know how wonderful a Charlie Hope lullaby CD must be!

The Wiggles Go To Sleep Jeff! is a classic in our house. Featuring both slower-paced versions of other Wiggle songs (like Take a Trip Out On the Sea) and more traditional lullabies (like Brahms’ Lullaby), this CD will definitely do the trick.

The CD also presents lullabies from around the world (my favorite is the Maranoa Lullaby from central Australia), but one thing to look out for are the introductions to each song. Since a lot of these songs have really interesting stories behind them, the Wiggles recorded short introductions to each song to explain where it comes from or what’s going on. This can make it hard for a child to fall asleep, so it’s best to play it from your iPod with the intros removed.

Party Like a Twinkle StarCharity and the JamBand designed their new album, Party Like a Twinkle Star, around a brilliant concept: create two discs, one to play when you’re ready to party and one to play when you’re ready to sleep. The lullaby CD is really quite soothing and has become one of our favorite CDs for relaxing to.

The songs are all very positive, too. I like The Reminder, a song that reminds us and our children about how important we all are. Ivan loves their version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star because it’s both familiar and new at the same time.

If after listening to some of these lullaby CDs you’re still finding it hard to get your child to sleep, you may want to check out this article on common sleep problems and their solutions or this one on creating a sleep plan for your child.

Good luck, good night, and sweet dreams!

RELATED POST: Lullabies to Ease Transitions


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Must-Hear Music Monday: In the Pursuit of Poetry

Gustafer Yellowgold “Question Marks” Video Premier!

If you’ve been following the preview releases of the videos from Gustafer Yellowgold’s newest adventure, Infinity Sock, then you know today’s installment is Question Marks!

I love that Gustafer came to earth “in pursuit of poetry.” He’s here to learn, to experience, and to meet new people. Gus doesn’t have a goal in mind; He’s not the kind of guy looking to answer one question then move on. He’s here to just soak it all in, and that’s what this song is all about – always questing and questioning, sometimes even if there really isn’t an answer.

The concept is so simple and innocent – and so familiar to anyone with kids. Makes me wonder if this song was written by someone with a toddler in the house? What do you think?

This video will only be available for viewing today – February 7th, 2011 – so be sure to check it out!

Like what you see? You can pre-order Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock DVD/CD set from Amazon or at a special early bird price direct from the Gustafer Yellowgold website.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Must-Hear Music Monday: Gustafer Yellowgold

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock

Gustafer Yellowgold's Infinity SockThat yellow freckle-faced kid from the sun is up to new adventures in Morgan Taylor’s latest Gustafer installment, Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock.

I feel like I have to assume that you’re fully aware of the Gustafer saga by this point: He’s yellow, he comes from the sun, he lives in a house in the Minnesota woods, he has a pet eel, he eats pinecones… you get the picture.

Like all the Gustafer albums before this one, Infinity Sock comes as a CD/DVD set so you can either listen to the songs alone or watch them with their animated videos. Unlike previous Gustafer albums, this one tells a complete story.

In Infinity Sock Gustafer finds a long, long, long sock and decides to follow it to it’s end. Where will it take him? What will he find? How will he be changed by the journey? Along the way we meet favorite characters and learn more about them. Forest Applecrumbie’s tabby cat, Cheddar, has a song devoted to her, as do the Mint Bee and his band.

GustaferGustafer songs are often silly verging on the absurd, but also posit larger universal themes, which is why they appeal so well to both kids and grownups. One of the themes that you see throughout Gustafer’s repertoire is that everyone has value.

Gustafer has a way of seeing little things, like erring ants, and recognizing their beauty. In the new song, Snake Proms, Gustafer learns that one of his favorite foods, snakes, actually has personality and wit. I think Gustafer may now be a vegetarian.

Gustafer’s also the perpetual student, always seeking, observing, and learning. I love the new song Question Marks about how there is never an end to understanding. There’s always something new to see.

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock will be released on March 1st and it’s a must see/listen. Plus, you have to check out the bonus features for the Gustafer Guitar Lessons where Morgan shows you how to play some of his favorite songs. It’s really very cool.

For more teasers and some clips from the new album, check out www.gustaferyellowgold.com/infinity.html.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Music Review: The Wild World of Wildlife

We’re Wild for Wildlife!

Kids love animals—real ones, stuffed ones, it doesn’t matter.

My son, Ivan, has two animal favorites right now: the Discovery Kids Smart Animals Scanopedia (he loves the sound of the turkey gobbling) and Birdie’s CD The Wild World of Wildlife. Oh, and his kitten, Murray, of course!

Birdie’s CD is a fun collection of songs all about animals, from reptiles to mammals, fish to birds. Most of the songs will teach your kids a little something about the animals (did you know that the Fiddler Crab shoves sand in its mouth, picks out the food, then spits out the leftover sand as a ball?) and some will just make your kids want to dance, like Shake Your Tail Feathers.

I personally like that Birdie adds some life lessons to the mix as well, as in the song Elephant in the Congo that teaches kids about how precious the elephant is and that we humans shouldn’t harm it.

So get out your shakers, put on your dancing shoes, and check out The Wild World of Wildlife. Animal lovers unite!

You can learn more about Birdie’s Playhouse at her website: www.birdiesplayhouse.com or on her Facebook page.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

5 New Holiday Music CDs & Songs for Families

Holiday Music For Kids

Do you hear what I hear? It’s holiday music and Christmas cheer! Despite all the stress, I still absolutely love the holidays, and one of my favorite things about the season is all the happy music. Here are some new CDs and songs that we’re enjoying this year….

Ben Rudnick & Friends

Ben Rudnick & Friends are about to play their 9th Annual Holiday Extravaganza Concert at the Regent Theatre (Boston, MA) on December 11th. It’s always a wonderful show full of Christmas and Chanukah songs all wrapped up in that unique BR&F style.

And every year people ask if they have a holiday album… and every year they have to say no, but maybe next year… Until now!

They finally did it! And it was well worth the wait! Their new album, It’s Santa Claus, features eight classic Christmas songs, from Frosty the Snowman to Jingle Bells, and one super cool original song, It’s Santa Claus!

Of course, now they need to put together a CD of all their fun Chanukah songs. OK guys, that’s your assignment for next year!

Daria

Daria’s Songs for Merry Multicultural Mirth is a sweet collection of songs from around the world. We’ve always loved the song Ocho Candelikas, a traditional song sung in Ladino, the language of the Sephardic Jews. What I love about Daria’s version is that she’s added an English verse, too, so we can sing along. Spanish speakers will enjoy seeing the similarities and differences between Spanish and Ladino.

Daria does such a great job of bringing different cultures together! This CD also feature songs in Spanish (Feliz Navidad), German (Ihr Kinderlein Kommet), and English (Rockin’ Jingle Bells). Check out the liner notes to the album where you can read more about each song and download the lyrics.

Phil Cooke

Speaking of Christmas celebrations around the world, Phil Cooke from Australia has just released a new album, Christmas Time is Coming! Is that Santa surfing on Christmas day? Of course! In Australia it’s summer time during the holidays, so why not?

One of my favorite songs on this album is No Worries Mate (Santa Claus He’s a Surfie). It’s fun and playful—like all of Phil’s songs. Did you know Rudolph once forgot to put sun screen on his nose? How do you think he got that burn?

Renee & Jeremy

I am of the opinion that Renee & Jeremy can do no wrong. Everything they do is brilliant! So of course their new cover of Little Drummer Boy is instantly my favorite version of this song ever. Period.

Combine this song with the beautiful art work by Hsinping Pan that always graces their albums and you’ve got perfection. I love the colors and joy displayed on this CD.

And speaking of art work, have you seen the video for Renee & Jeremy’s It’s a Big World? It’s shockingly beautiful.

DidiPop

Another fun Christmas single comes from DidiPop this year. Let’s Make Santa Claus Happy Tonight is simply adorable. Didi sings along with her kids who are soooo excited about Santa stopping by during the night.

The song is upbeat and playful and reminds us adults about how much fun Christmas Eve is and how hard it is to wait for morning.

And is that an ukulele I hear in the song? That reminds me of Didi’s newest album, DidiPop Goes to Hawai’i, set for release on December 14th. You don’t want to miss it!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

New CD Releases: Brian Vogan & Keller Williams

New Music from Brian Vogan & Keller Williams

Keller Williams: Kids

Mark your calendars: Keller Williams will be hosting the Hilltown Family Variety Show on Saturday, January 22nd from 9-10am on WXOJ 103.3FM (Northampton, MA)

Brian Vogan: Sing a Little Song

As much as I like to think of myself as being totally plugged in to the kids’ music scene, lately I’ve been stumbling upon artists that I really should have already been listening to, but I’m only now discovering. That’s OK! I don’t need to be hip—I’m just on a quest for really good family music.

I found that in Brian Vogan’s new CD, Sing a Little Song. This CD catches you with the very first whimsical song, “How to Fly,” with nice light sounds and beautiful harmonies. I also love “Cross the Street” and “Wash Your Hands,” because they’re life-lesson songs that are actually fun to listen to!

Brian and his Good Buddies (that’s his band) are currently rocking in Seattle, but hopefully they’ll make it out to Boston soon. Meanwhile, check out their new CD. You can also watch their video for “That’s How a Pumpkin Grows” to get a feel for their mellow rock and rich instrumentation.

Keller Williams: Kids

Keller Williams is another artist that’s new to me, even though he’s about to release his sixteenth album. Of course his newest CD, Kids, is his first CD for… well… kids.

I was first attracted by the guitar (and Ivan always reacts so positively to accomplished guitar), but what really got my attention was the beat. Each song sways and moves to its own beat and rhythm that you just can’t help to respond to.

The fourth track, “Hulahoop to da Loop,” is a perfect example. It almost sounds like something from Stomp or Blue Man Group that just builds and builds on itself. It’s really a trip!

The humor on this album is just the sweetest. Songs about Taking a Bath” to get the stink off your feet, or about Good Advice (never pick your toes and then pick your nose because then your nose smells like your toes and that’s not good—that’s bad), or how Mama Tooted.” Well, you get the point.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Lesson Songs: Teaching Kids Manners, Hygiene and Healthy Eating

Lesson Songs

Jeremy Plays Guitar just came out with his new album, Use Your Words, full of songs that teach kids lessons (like how you should use your words rather than whine). It made me think of other fun lesson songs that teach kids about manners, hygiene, or eating healthy in entertaining ways…

Jeremy Plays Guitar: Use Your WordsMy favorite song on Use Your Words is House Rules, a song that tells us what “we should and should not do” because “we don’t live in a zoo.” Kids learn that “no biting” is a good rule, but they also learn that “yes sharing” is important, too. Check out Jeremy’s new video for Jump So High, too!

Leeny & Tamara: Sharing the Same StarsSpeaking of sharing, I’ve always loved Leeny & Tamara’s Taking Turns on their album Sharing The Same Stars. With a classic rock-and-roll beat, the song presents situations to kids (like two kids wanting to use the same color crayon) and gives them solutions. Amazingly, the song really works as a song and a lesson. Leeny & Tamara are great at that!

Brian Vogan: Sing a Little SongBrian Vogan’s newest CD, Sing a Little Song, has a great hand washing song called Wash Your Hands. It can be hard to find a good song about hygiene—so often they’re just so preachy. But this song seriously rocks! And it’s fun to sing “wash your hands, wash your hands, stop the germs if you can” while showing your kids how to wash at the sink.

Okee Dokee Brothers: Take it OutsideAnd since we’re talking about cleaning up at the sink, you’ve got to check out Wash Your Face from one of my favorite bands, the Okee Dokee Brothers, on their newest album, Take It Outside. I love this CD! These guys are so silly and have such a wonderfully bluegrass style. I love that their lyrics are so clever and witty—I’m still finding new sly jokes in their songs!

Lemonsquare: Music for FunSo we’ve got basic rules, sharing, and keeping clean down… what else do we need to teach our kids? How about eating healthy? There are lots of kids’ songs about food, but often they’re about ice cream, candy, or macaroni and cheese (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course). But if you’re looking for a song about eating veggies, check out Lemonsquare’s “Very Veggie” on Music for Fun. They sing about tasty vegetables and encourage kids to eat anything that’s green so that they can call themselves “very veggie,” too!

Are you looking for songs to teach your kids other lessons or do you have special lesson songs that you want to tell us about? Let us know!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Sunny Day: Elizabeth Mitchell’s Newest CD

Elizabeth Mitchell: Sunny Day

'Sunny Day' offers "handmade music" which invites listeners to join in. As Amanda Blake Soule, the author of "The Creative Family," notes in the 28-page full-color booklet enclosed with 'Sunny Day,' "These songs bring our attention to the magical, mysterious, fabulous and special simple moments of everyday living." They provide a soundtrack to brighten any day, "inspiring family connection and togetherness," as Sooule says.

Elizabeth Mitchell’s new CD, Sunny Day, came out earlier this month and at just the right time for my family.

With the air getting crisper and school back in session, kids will invariably pick up (and bring home) fall colds. It’s no fun for anyone. When both mommy and child are feeling under the weather the best thing for everyone is to relax and take it easy.

Yes, I realize this is easier said than done, but Elizabeth’s soothing voice and mellow tunes really helped my son to calm down, rest, and focus on getting better rather than on how awful he felt. And that helped mommy feel better, too!

Elizabeth sings many traditional folk songs from around the world, but combines them in her seamless style. Her voice and arrangements are soft and safe; you can’t help but feel comfortable and comforted while listening to her music. It’s perfect music for after-school-wind-down time, for snuggling, or for just feeling happy and at home.

To get a feel for Elizabeth’s style, try listening to her version of Mr. Rabbit or the Japanese song Ooki Na Kuri No Ki No Shita De (Under the Big Chestnut Tree), two of our favorite songs on the new album.

If you’re looking for something easy to listen to, something you can pop in the CD player when you’ve just about had it with all the noise and the distractions, you’ve found it. Relax. You’re entire family deserves it!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)



Mind of My Own: France England’s Newest CD

Frances England: Mind of My Own

Frances England: Mind of My Own

Mind of My Own, due out November 9th, has a frenetic energy that is exciting and contagious!

You know when you hear an artist for the first time and they just grab you? That’s what happened for me when I heard Frances England’s new CD Mind of My Own.

On the one hand I was upset with myself for never having listened to Frances before, but on the other hand I was excited that she has two other CDs! I immediately ordered Fascinating Creatures and Family Tree. She’s just glorious!

If you’re familiar with Frances’ earlier work, then you already know about her sultry voice, creative lyrics, and timeless melodies. Her songs are easy to hum to and often the choruses are easy to sing to your kids later to get them to calm down. Many of the songs on her first two CDs are very soothing, but her new CD, due out November 9th, 2010, has more of a frenetic energy that is exciting and contagious.

As with many mommy artists, Frances’ music has grown with her kids. You can hear in this album the emerging independence I’m sure she’s seeing in her sons. The title song, Mind of My Own, is all about finding your own way while also maneuvering through all the rules your parents place on you. I absolutely adore the song Red Balloon where Frances describes a child growing in perfectly poetic language:

I’m a red balloon
I’m a full moon rising
I’m an apple tree
I’m a lemon drop
I’m a flower petal
I’m heavy metal
I’m two years old and I’m nonstop
I’m two years old and I’m nonstop

In the song To Be we hear Frances really appreciating the simple things in life. As parents we all know how sobering it can be to suddenly see the world through our kids’ eyes and realize the beauty of a flower or triumph of climbing a tree.

Frances says: “As a mother of two, it… feels really good to use song writing as a way of reflecting on daily family life. It’s such a precious time but too often we all lose sight of how significant it is because of our crazy schedules. For me, writing and singing these songs serves as a reminder that this stage in our families’ lives is golden.”

That’s a good reminder for all of us. Please check out this CD when it’s released in November. You’ll be so glad you did!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

New Music Worth Adding to Your iTunes Children’s Mix

New Music from the Flannerys & Caspar Babypants

Sometimes when you’ve listened to a lot of music you begin to feel a bit satiated; you start thinking that you’ve heard all the good stuff so why listen to anything new?

I don’t think this is uncommon. At this point my children’s mix on iTunes has 951 of our all time favorite kids songs—and I’m not kidding when I say we love every single song and wouldn’t give any up. But do we really need to add any more?

We still listen to new music, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to add something new to my mix—I mean, those 951 songs would take over a day to listen to from beginning to end. I think we’re good. I was just about ready to throw in the towel and call my mix complete when we were sent two new CDs to review from the Flannery Brothers and Caspar Babypants. They made the cut and now we’re at 983.

FLANNERY BROTHERS

Flannery Brothers - New Explorers ClubWe’ve been fans of the Flannery Brothers since we first heard Broccoli Yet back in April of last year (why does that seem like such a long time ago?) when their song was in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition.

They’ve since released two albums, Love Songs for Silly Things and Wake Up Songs, and have a third, The New Explorers Club, due out in October. I hear a fourth, Dance Songs for Silly Things, is currently in the works. Do these guys ever sleep?

I’m always amazed by the talent of these brothers. What did mama Flannery feed them when they were little? Their music is rich and thick, like a hearty bowl of corn chowder (made with fresh corn just bought at the Farmers’ Market, of course). The layers of instruments and inter workings of sound are so impressive, but I’m always most taken by the lyrics. Flannery songs are fun, adventurous, and encourage kids (and parents) to get up, dance, get outside, and just experience life to the fullest. One of my favorite songs on the new album, Swallowed a Bug, is a hilarious take on the phrase, “It was totally worth it:”

I swallowed a bug,
but it was totally worth it.
It was sunny outside,
the day was perfect.
I was running through the green grass,
the bug was in the air,
and neither of us thought we’d meet each other there.

And you get the same message in the song The Elements. Who cares if it’s too hot or too cold outside, just get out there and have fun!

It’s hard to pick one favorite tune on this album, but if you can only listen to one song, I’d say give Kitchen Floor a try. On the surface it’s a song about being silly and laying down on the floor in the kitchen, but really it’s about being comfortable in your home and with your family—listening to mom cook dinner, smelling the spices, feeling the sun come through the window, and knowing you’re safe and at peace. Ah… what a feeling!

The New Explorers Club will be released on October 19th, 2010.

CASPAR BABYPANTS

Caspar Babypants - This is Fun!I know there’s been a lot of buzz over Caspar Babypants’ first two kids’ albums, Here I Am! and More Please!, but I have to be honest with you… I just never took the time to check him out until receiving a review copy of his newest album, This is Fun.

That was silly of me. Caspar Babypants rocks!

Caspar Babypants is the kid-friendly pseudonym of Chris Ballew, the lead singer of The Presidents of the United States of America. His songs as Caspar are very much designed for the youngest musicophiles, babies and toddlers, which is a nice change from the usual hip, quirky kindie rock that appeals more to elementary school aged kids. Itsy Bitsy Spider and Shortnin’ Bread just got a much needed makeover!

Caspar’s songs are stripped-down-simple in a very light and airy way. These songs encourage you and your little one to move with the music together: stomp your feet, bounce up and down, wave your arms around. Perfect for mommy and me time! But they’re also entertaining enough for older kids… and mommy too!

I’ve actually taken This is Fun to my son, Ivan’s, physical therapy as a way to encourage him to move with his therapist. It worked wonders! The easy beats and directive lyrics got Ivan bouncing, taking steps, and balancing better than he’s ever done before—way to go Casper Babypants!

If you can only listen to one song on This is Fun, check out Baby and the Animals. I LOVE this song! A little baby and her animal friends live on an island, hang out on the beach, and play together in a band: “Coconuts and music is the all-day diet.” So cute!

This is Fun will be released on November 2nd, 2010.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Nursery Rhymes From Down Under

Mr. Bandicoot

Mr. Bandicoot

Have you ever heard of a bandicoot? I hadn’t, at least not until I was introduced to Anne Lawson’s lovely Australian nursery rhyme book, Mr. Bandicoot & Other Tales.

Mr. Bandicoot is a group of rhymes thought up by Anne when her children were little. They’re all decidedly Australian with stories about kangaroos, gum trees, and, of course, Mr. Bandicoot himself.

Anne says:

I wrote these songs about 50 or 60 years ago as a means of entertaining my children while I worked. Many of the collection of 27 nursery rhymes are centered around and about the family farm situated between Sydney and Wollongong…. They feature fantastic tales of the small adventures that one can encounter every day.

The songs and rhymes are filled with fantasy, imagination, and above all else, a mother’s love. The illustrations are whimsical, and as an added treat, Kate Rowe (of Space Rabbits fame) lent her talents to the accompanying CD, so you can listen to each of the songs while you read along with your kids. It’s really an amazing collection.

Mr. Bandicoot & Other Tales

Anne also shared with me the way this book came about:

In 2008 at a family get together for Mother’s Day some of my children put on an impromptu concert featuring the songs [I had written] and found themselves debating the lyrics of one of the songs.

To settle the matter I spent some time finding the book I had hand made for the children so long ago. In the ensuing debate a CD was suggested and then a book.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

I love the idea that these songs had been sitting in a box in an attic somewhere, collecting dust, worried about being forgotten, when they really lived on in the hearts of each of Anne’s children. Suddenly it became clear to the entire family that they should be shared with everyone.

Visit Mr. Bandicoot online to learn more about his story and listen to some of the songs.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Environmental Education Through Music

An Environmental Education for Kids … Through Music!

We’ve become big recyclers, we drive fuel efficient cars, and we take our reusable bags to the grocery store…but even though the best way to teach a kid any lesson is to practice what you preach, it can still be hard to explain exactly why protecting the environment is important and how doing things like recycling can really help. Featured here are four kids’ musicians who celebrate the message on environmental awareness, in a fun sing-song way…

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Minnesota’s Newest Kids Band: The Bazillions

The Bazillions

Take a tablespoon of Recess Monkey, add a heaping cup of The Hipwaders, and stir in a bit of power pop to even out the heavy rock flavor, and you’ll have the recipe for Minnesota’s new kids’ band, The Bazillions. Yum!

The Bazillions is the family-friendly iteration of the grown-up band The Humbugs, but their kids’ fare sounds much happier (though their grown-up songs are actually very good, too).

As the Bazillions they sing about Mac -n- Cheese and a Super Sonic Rocket Bike, perfect for the younger generation. Their lyrics are witty and silly and, above all else, they rock!

Their new album, Rock-n-Roll Recess, features the requisite Hello and goodbye songs, but done in a decidedly rock fashion (very cool) and the last two tracks are lyric-free recordings of previous songs so you can sing along at home karaoke style. Kids love that.  Read the rest of this entry »

Lullabies to Ease Transitions

More Lullabies

I’m a huge advocate of using music as a way to signal everyday events. This works especially well for special needs kids who may need a little extra help moving through transitions.

We have certain songs that we listen to when it’s time to eat or time to go to school, special Wake Up Songs, and, of course, special going-to-sleep songs.

We have so many sleep songs that we’ve actually separated them into three categories: relaxing songs when it’s time to just wind down a bit; nap songs; and bed time songs. I’m starting to feel like a lullaby expert!

So I wanted to share some of our favorite lullaby songs with you. Some are full albums and others are just one song off an otherwise excitable CD (and these days it’s so easy to just download one song), but all are magnificent.

Charlie Hope’s World of Dreams is a beautiful CD. She really thought through the entire concept from beginning to end and recorded an album fully with the intent of lulling your child to sleep.

I know it sounds obvious, but many lullaby CDs will include spoken words or jarring sounds that can wake you up! On World of Dreams, however, you’ll find that each song runs smoothly to the next, that the imagery is peaceful, the songs are ethereal, and the last song, If I Lie Here, sort of drifts off and fades away at the end, perfect for falling asleep to.

The beats on Under the Stars may move a bit faster than World of Dreams, but works beautifully for an afternoon nap time. What I love most about this album is that singers Nancy Falkow & Fran King take turns as lead vocalist, so get this very nice back and forth between a male voice and female.

Both singers are now based in Ireland (though Nancy is originally from the US), and you’ll hear lots of nature references in the songs that make me think of the Irish countryside. Very soothing and very sweet, my favorite song has to be I Wish You Love. It’s such a tender song about a parent’s love for their child.

This CD by Renee & Jeremy is a must-have in our car. It’s a Big World is the CD we pop in when Ivan is fussy and tired while we’re driving around town and just needs to settle down. It always works!

Renee & Jeremy are probably one of the best duo bands ever, their voices just blend perfectly, and this CD is home to my absolute favorite lullaby ever: Powder Blue. This is the song I hum to Ivan when it’s just me and him and he needs a little extra love. So simple yet so effective!

And can we talk for a minute about artwork? I’m just mesmerized by this CD cover. Brilliant and beautiful, but also soothing at the same time. Very nice.

A lot of artists will also record one lullaby song with the rest of the upbeat songs on their album. Here are some of our favorites:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Must-Hear Music Monday: Laurie Berkner

A Laurie Berkner Best Of!

Who doesn’t love the Laurie Berkner Band? Who hasn’t spent an entire afternoon happily humming Victor Vito to themselves?

Hey Victor! Hey Freddie! Let’s eat some spaghetti!

Laurie Berkner has been releasing perfectly danceable family fun albums for over ten years now (wow!) and felt it was high time for a best of compilation. I must agree!

If you’re not familiar with Laurie’s music, this album is a great introduction. You’ll get to listen to all of the best songs from over the years, from the silly (like Victor Vito and Pig on Her Head) to the sweet (like Five Days Old and Under a Shady Tree).

If you’re already a huge Laurie Berkner fan, you’ll be happy to see what a great job they did choosing the songs for this album (yes, Buzz Buzz made the cut), and you’ll probably have a couple you’d want to add (I’m kind of missing One More Stop on the Train). For us fans, this album would make a great gift for our friends who haven’t yet become super Laurie fans.

Another thing I love about this album: Since these are all hits, it’s a nice pick for the car. You’ve got almost an hour of “Oh, I love this song!” to drive along to with your kids… or on your own! Honestly, I don’t mind listening to a good Laurie Berkner song even when Ivan’s not around.

The Best of The Laurie Berkner Band was recently released on June 29th, and the band will be in Massachusetts for the Life is Good Festival in September. Exciting!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Amber’s 2010 Spring Picks: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

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Amber’s 2010 Spring Picks
Playlist by Amber Bodnar of Boston Children’s Music

Amber has put together a list of her and her son’s top 12 songs from this past spring of musicians who perform in MA, chiefly in the Boston area, with many who have performed here in Western MA too.

Visit both Amber’s site, Boston Children’s Music (Eastern MA) and check here on Hilltown Families (Western MA) for recommended family concerts, music and ticket giveaways.  Between the two we’re bridging the state to let families all throughout MA know about great concerts for families!

Featured Video: “Willy Won’t” by Debbie and Friends
This is a new song from the new Debbie and Friends CD. It’s a song about Debbie’s nephew Will, who makes silly faces when his picture is being taken. See how many famous places Willy visits and learn “why” he does what he does in pictures!


Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
June  26th & 27th, 2010
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

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PLAYLIST BY AMBER BOBNAR

  • “Two Mommies” by Alastair Moock [A Cow Says Moock]

Alastair released his first children’s album, A Cow Says Moock, last year and it’s amazing. He has a sort of folk/blues sound and covers some cool old songs, like “Fishin’ Blues” and “Spaghetti in My Shoe.” He does a lot of shows at Club Passim in Harvard Square and always sells out.

  • “A Frog Named Sam” by Ben Rudnick & Friends [A Frog Named Sam]

BR&F released their newest CD, A Frog Named Sam, in 2009. This is their fifth CD and even though we love all of them, I would say this newest one is probably our favorite. BR&F have an American roots/bluegrass style that is just so family friendly and I love that they always include a nice instrumental or two on each album. They perform all over Mass and are Arlington favorites.

  • “So, So Happy” by Debbie & Friends [More Story Songs & Sing Alongs]

This song is off of D&F’s newest CD, More Story Songs & Sing Alongs, released earlier this year. D&F’s have a wonderful way of taking familiar stories and nursery rhymes and turning them into something new and exciting. Ivan has always loved their “Three Little Pigs” song, but I think “So, So Happy” is his new favorite. D&F also have a really cool animator who has been creating fun videos for their songs (you can see them here: http://debbieandfriends.net/fun.php). D&F play all over Mass. Their shows are very interactive and perfect for young kids who have never been to a full band show before.

  • “Shake!” by the Flannery Brothers [Wake Up Songs]

The Flannery Brothers are from Maine and they are making quite a splash in the children’s music scene. Their newest album, Wake Up Songs, just came out this year and it is a short, six-song CD intended to help get your kids out of bed in the morning. We really do listen to this CD every morning! Their shows are super energetic and that energy is contagious. They’ve been playing more and more shows in Mass and they’re getting to be very popular. They’re working on a new CD set to release later this year.

  • “Panther Stamps Pants” by Gustafer Yellowgold [Mellow Fever]

Gustafer Yellowgold is the creation of Morgan Taylor, a multi-talented artist who writes, sings, and animates all at once! Each Gustafer song is accompanied by an animated video and the live performances are really spectacular as the band plays in front of a large screen displaying the characters. The songs follow Gustafer and his friends on their adventures that vary from the absurd to the inspirational. Morgan’s music is mellow and light and accessible to both kids and adults. He and his band are from New York but they have been coming up for regular shows at Club Passim in Harvard Square. Their newest album, Mellow Fever, is a must hear and there’s rumor that we can expect a new Gustafer album by early 2011.

  • “Owl Hootenany” by Vanessa Trien [Carnival Day]

Vanessa Trien is as sweet in person as she is on her albums. She’s the real deal! Vanessa is talented and full of energy, which is really saying something when you consider she’s also a mom to two young children. Her newest CD, Carnival Day, just came out last year and it is a must have. Owl Hootenany is probably my favorite song on the CD. Vanessa performs all around Mass, but mostly in the Boston metro area. She plays both big theaters and little charity events. Don’t miss out on one of her shows!

  • “Finger Puppets” by Little Groove [Building Blocks]

Little Groove, headed by lead singer Sara Wheeler, is another regular around town. Little Groove has put on big shows at TCAN in Natick and the Coolidge in Brookline as well as lots of smaller library shows. Sara’s style is almost celtic and very melodic. The music is mostly acoustic and kids just love her ladybug costume! Their CD, Building Blocks, was released in 2008. We love to listen to it in the afternoons when Ivan needs to calm down after a long day at school.

  • “Friends are on their Way” by Joe’s Backyard Band [Kick Up a Breeze]

JBB is from Rhode Island and their music is just beautiful. They play in a kind of folk rock style with lots of instrumentation, from harmonica to saxophone and everything in between. They’re really quite a sight when seen live. Most of their songs are about enjoying life and friends and that’s an important message for anyone! Their album, Kick Up a Breeze, came out last year.

  • “Yucky” by Judy Pancoast [Weird Things are Everywhere]

Judy, a musician from New Hampshire, has a way of making everything silly. Her shows are so much fun for kids as she gets them to pretend they are swimming through jello or meeting aliens. Her newest CD, Weird Things are Everywhere, came out last year and is a story told in both spoken word and song about a trip across the USA. As she travels across the country Judy talks about the books that have been written about each state. Judy is a big supporter of literacy programs and you can often find her performing at local libraries in Mass.

  • “I Came Out Backwards” by Leeny And Tamara [Sharing The Same Stars]

L&T are just fun. Most of their songs attempt to teach kids something valuable, but in an entertaining way, which is no easy feat! But L&T really do pull it off. Their shows are fun and super interactive – they encourage kids to come on stage and help them sing in the microphone. Their CD, Sharing The Same Stars, came out last year and has already won a Parent’s Choice Award. They’re from Gloucester and perform all over Mass.

  • “Pájaro Carpintero (Woodpecker)” by Mariana Iranzi [Aventura Collage]

Mariana is originally from Argentina and sings all her songs in Spanish. She has a delightfully rich voice and many of her songs remind me of the bosanova style. Her songs are playful and skillfully arranged. It’s hard to believe that Aventura Collage is her first CD! She’s both a music teacher and performer in the greater Boston area and she performs regularly at the Children’s Museum.

  • “Elephant Hide and Seek” by SteveSongs [Marvelous Day]

SteveSongs is such a staple of children’s music in New England and he’s become a big star now that he’s on PBS as Mr Steve! Marvelous Day is his fifth CD and the Elephant Song is just such a classic! Steve is one of those vocalists who is simply astounding and I love the silliness he injects in every song. Plus his back up singers, the Sensational Sillies, are phenomenal! And they’re little girls! Steve’s been doing fewer live shows lately and he also tours the country quite a bit, but you can still catch him back on his home turf now and then. But his shows almost always sell out so get your tickets fast when he’s here!

Must-Hear Music Monday: Fox and Branch

Fox & Branch

There are so many choices in kids’ music these days, from hip hop to rock, pop to reggae, and everything in between.

But if you’re looking for something that is simple, mellow, and has a folksy flair, Fox & Branch may be the band you’re looking for.

Fox & Branch (also known as Dave Fox and Will Branch) play old time Americana songs hailing from bluegrass, blues, or even cajun traditions. This is the kind of music that really is “family-friendly” because there’s something here for everyone. These are the kind of guys who’ll pull out a fiddle or an old jug at the drop of a hat.

On their albums, songs like Sunny Side of the Street sit comfortably next to Turkey in the Straw. And of course they have a perfect rendition of Mama Don’t Allow.

Their newest album, Take Time in Life, would make a great father’s day gift. What a nice CD for dad to listen to with his kids!

Want to hear more of these guys? They’ll be playing in Eastern MA at Club Passim on August 21st at 10:30am and at the Hyde Park Public Library on August 24th at 10:30am. Check them out!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Must-Hear Music Monday: Jungle Gym

Jungle Gym

Justin Roberts isn’t just a musician; he’s a phenomenon. When we hear that Justin has a new CD coming out, we begin pining for it immediately. We don’t worry if it will be good or not—it’s just a question of which songs we will love the most.

And Justin has been receiving some much deserved accolades in the mainstream press lately. The New York Times wrote about him in April and I was glad to see that the reporter was a true fan who recognized Justin as a “natural poet,” quoting some of his best lines from classic songs like Picture Day and Sandcastle.

Justin was also featured in a recent article in Time Magazine, which was accompanied by a video interview online.

At his root Justin is an incomparable lyricist. His songs move smoothly from verse to chorus and are divine to sing along to. He gets you thinking, laughing, and every so often even crying—and sometimes that can all happen in the same song (like From Scratch, which gets to me every time I hear it).

His new CD, Jungle Gym, is no exception. The songs take the perspective of a child, but in a way that we can all relate to. We all know what it feels like to get an unexpected day off—whether we’re a kid finding out school’s canceled due to a Snow Day or a mom who’s just been given the afternoon to herself. And in the song Never Getting Lost, is he really singing about a child getting lost in a mall or about losing our way in life and needing to reconnect?

Justin’s new CD is set to release this week but can be pre-ordered now. In the meantime, you can check out this video for Obsessed by Trucks:

And once you’ve got your new CD and you’re singing every song by heart, you’ll be ready for Justin’s upcoming performances, including the Regattabar in Cambridge, MA on July 25th. Yes, it’s time to get excited.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

Must-Hear Music Monday with Amber: Five New Releases

Must-Hear Music Monday

We’ve been listening to lots of new—and some not so new—music that’s super cool. Local favorite Liz Buchanan recently released a new CD and so did Princess Katie & Racer Steve. And did you know that the ever-awesome Recess Monkey have a new CD coming out in June?

Here are some highlights from our new collection of favorites:

Liz Buchanan

Liz Buchanan Singing All the Way HomeLiz’s new CD is simply a sweet collection of kids’ songs with a very folksy and traditional feel. These songs are great for little kids and toddlers. Liz has a rich singing voice that’s both beautiful and friendly that really attracts kids, especially shy ones. Her shows are very interactive and kids just seem to feel free to dance and be themselves with her.

I love the song “Hey, Dr. Knickerbocker” for its perfect guitar arrangement and sing-along-to lyrics and Ivan just adores “The Hand-Clapping Rap” where you clap the syllables of food words. Such a simple idea gets him so excited!

Liz is planning a CD release party at the Regent Theater in Eastern MA in October. Her concert will kick off their Family Fun Series this fall!

Princess Katie & Racer Steve

Princess Katie & Racer Steve Tiny CoolPrincess Katie and Racer Steve may have been around making kids’ music for a while, but we’ve only just discovered their music and we’re quickly becoming huge fans! Their new CD, Tiny Cool, is like a cartoon rock party in a box. Just add some dance moves and you’re all set!

The songs are interspersed with little skits spoken by Katie and Steve and they’re just hilarious (ever hear a princess really try to get her enchanted forest animals to sing with her? It doesn’t work out so well!), but the real fun is in the songs. Just listen to clips from “Clelia’s Party” and “Tiny Cool” and you’ll see what I mean. It’s like a book you can’t put down—in music form!

Recess Monkey

Recess Monkey The Final FunktierThe guys from Recess Monkey have been busy preparing for their next project: A trip into outer space! That’s right, the funky cool kids’ band from Seattle is releasing a new CD in June and it’s all about space and what you’ll find there. I guess you could say that The Final Funktier is technically a concept album focusing entirely on one theme, but instead of becoming dry or forced, this really works! From songs about satellite brothers who never leave you alone to beat-box robots every song on this CD is a keeper.

Along side the silly songs is Galax Sea,” a questing song asking listeners to think about what might by on the other side of the galaxy. It’s almost epic in its scope and really quite lovely to listen to, plus the guest vocals on this song are amazing. The Final Funktier includes vocals from two of my all-time favorite artists, Morgan Taylor and Rachel Loshak (from Gustafer Yellowgold), as well as Caspar Babypants, The Not-Its, and other big time children’s rockers. Very cool! – The Final Funktier will be available for sale in June but you can pre-order your copy now!

The Okee Dokee Brothers

Okee Dokee Brothers Kids with BeardsAnother band we’ve just discovered even though they’ve been around for a while is The Okee Dokee Brothers. These guys play a mean guitar and banjo plus they’re simply hilarious. They kind of remind me of Flight of the Conchords for kids, especially with songs like “Robot”. Did you know that robots can’t sing? Neither did I!

The Okee Dokee Brothers definitely cater their music to both kids and adults alike by including jokes or references in their songs that the parents can appreciate, like when their song “Wash Your Face” spoofs George Michael’s “Faith” with lines like “Well, I guess it would be nice if you would wash your face I don’t know any face that could replace you.” Give them a listen and see what you think. They’re new album, Take It Outside, is available for pre-release on their site now.

Gina Sing

Gina Sing TogetherLast, but certainly not least, you might want to check out the new album from Gina Sing titled Together. Gina’s another vocalist with such a beautifully rich voice and I love the kids she has singing with her on her album. Gina sings many traditional songs like “Tingalayo” or “I Love the Mountains” but she always adds her own fresh spin to the song. “Head n’ Shoulders, Baby” is a great example. It’s not just “head, shoulders, kness, and toes”—oh no—Gina has you jumping and bopping to a whole new take on this classic. She’s a lot of fun!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Amber BobnarAmber Bobnar

Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. info@bostonchildrensmusic.com. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)

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