Musical and Visual Interpretations of Classic Childrens’ Poems at The Carle

Leave Your Sleep 
by Natalie Merchant & Barbara McClintock
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Nov 26, 2013 — May 4, 2014

The album Leave Your Sleep, which Merchant spent five years researching and writing, originated from a collection of poems — from such notable poets as E.E. Cummings, Ogden Nash, and Edward Lear — that come alive through an eclectic blend of styles, from folk to jazz to R&B to Celtic influence.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art welcomes families to a special showcase of the art and collaborative work that resulted in the picture book Leave Your Sleep by Natalie Merchant, illustrated by Barbara McClintock. The book, published in 2012, followed the release of Merchant’s very successful double album of the same name two years prior. She transformed a selection of classic children’s poetry from poets including Ogden Nash, Edward Lear, and E.E. Cummings into a collection of original songs that comprise an eclectic blend of styles from folk to jazz to R&B to Celtic.

Merchant’s collaboration with McClintock is an attempt to make these poems and ideas even more accessible and exciting to kids: beautifully rendered in watercolors, a “parade of witches and fearless girls, blind men and elephants, giants and sailors” play out the ideas and emotions that the music evokes. “My hope is that this collaborative book of poems, pictures and music will provide many enchanted hours to children eager for beauty and the sort of adventure that happens between the pages of a book and the words of a song,” says Merchant.

Read the rest of this entry »

Giveaway: Top 11 Family Music CD Releases from 2012

Music Collection Giveaway:
Top 11 Family Music CD Releases from 2012

We’re giving away an amazing CD collection of our top 11 family albums released this past year. Find out how you can enter to win this entire collection below. Deadline to enter is: Jan 19, 2013 by 11:59pm (EST).

Last month the winners of the Fids & Kamily Music Awards were announced, with a stellar list of new CDs released this past year!

Launched in 2006 and inspired by the Village Voice’s long-running “Pazz and Jop” music poll, the Fids & Kamily Music Awards poll is the first compilation of year-end kids and family music “best of” lists from critics, writers, radio programmers, and others involved in the music industry. Fifteen favorites are selected from outstanding releases, along with five honorable mentions, including kids and family albums from mainstream/adult artists, seasoned kindie artists and some fantastic newcomers!

For the sixth year in a row, Hilltown Families has participated as a judge for the Fids & Kamily Music Awards.  Check out the winners at www.fidsandkamily.com and be sure to add some of these winners to your family music collection.

To start off the new year, Hilltown Families is giving away a collection of eleven CDs of family music released this past year.  Several are winners of the Fids & Kamily Music Awards, and several others are releases we voted for and think are a must for your family music collection! Find out how you can enter to win this entire collection below.  Deadline to enter is: Jan 19, 2013 by 11:59pm (EST).

Can You Canoe? — The Okee Dokee Brothers

Vote as the best family album of the year in the 2012 Fids & Kamily Music Awards, this album highlights a month-long journey Joe and Justin of The Okee Dokee Brothers spent traveling down the Mississippi River.  During their trip they composed songs that make up this award-winning album.  Special guests include Garth Hudson (The Band), Elizabeth Mitchell (Your Are My Flower) and Morgan Taylor & Rachel Loshak (Gustafer Yellowgold), and includes a DVD with music videos and footage from their trip.  Joe and Justin guest DJed the Hilltown Family Variety Show in June this past year.  Listen to the podcast and check out a few cuts from their new album along with tunes from other artist they selected, and one of their videos: HFVS Guest DJ, Joe & Justin of The Okee Dokee Brothers Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Science Fair Spare the Rock Records

In 2010, in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Spare the Rock Records put out the award winning compilation album, Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti, raising over $50,000 for Haitian relief! This past year they did it again with the amazing compilation CD, Science Fair, raising money for Girls Inc.’s work for science education for girls.  Placing second in this year’s Fids & Kamily Music Awards, Science Fair features exclusive tracks from Mates of State, Laura Veirs, Elizabeth Mitchell, Frances England and many others!

Blue Clouds  Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower

Released by Smithsonian Folkway Recordings, Blue Clouds placed fifth this year in the Fids & Kamily Music Awards.  Putting a contemporary touch to traditional folk songs, and using simple arrangements to rework classic rock songs by Bowie, Hendrix, Morrison and others into folks songs, Mitchell has complied a new album that is already a classic!

Mr Diddie Wah Diddie  Randy Kaplan

This past summer Randy Kaplan guest DJed the Hilltown Family Variety Show, spinning songs by bluegrass, folk, calypso, and broadway masters, alongside cuts from his new country-blues and ragtime CD, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie.  Placing seventh in the Fids & Kamily Music Awards, Randy Kaplan’s newest CD, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie, pays tribute to America’s blues masters on an album with rollicking lyrics the kids will love!  Listen to the podcast and get a glimpse into Randy’s new album and check out his video, “Ice Cream Man Rag.”: HFVS Guest DJ, Randy Kaplan Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Invisible Friends  Dog on Fleas

Ranging in style from Afro-pop to 60′s soul, Tin Pan Alley to bossa nova, Invisible Friends is an album the entire family can enjoy on road trips or Sunday morning PJ dance parties in the kitchen.  Lead singer Dean Jones guest DJed the Hilltown Family Variety Show this summer, pulling together a show that featured a few cuts from Invisible Friends interlaced with music from other kindie and mainstream artists.  Give a listen to the podcast to sample a few songs on this award winning album (ranking eighth on the Fids & Kamily Music Awards!): HFVS Guest DJ, Dean Jones Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Family Values  Charity & the Jamband

We can’t speak highly enough of Charity & the Jamband!  As Hilltown Families number one pick for the year, Family Values is a album that celebrates family and community.  Understanding that all things peaceful must first start in our own hearts and homes before moving out into our community, Charity Kahn has crafted songs that are intelligent and from the heart.  She tells stories set to music that is funky, with grooves and lyrics that talk up to kids and their grown ups!  Charity has guest DJed the Hilltown Family Variety Show many times. This past Thanksgiving, through music and story, Charity explored some of the many things we have to be grateful for in our lives, including songs from this new album.  Give a listen to the podcast anytime: HFVS Thanksgiving Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)

Can’t Wait  Grenadilla

“Layered voices textured with Kwela flavored rhythms, up-beat melodies, a touch of Cape Town Jive and a hint of the blues,” is how Grenadilla describes their newest release, Can’t Wait.  This past spring Debbie Lan from Grenadilla guest DJed the Hilltown Family Variety Show, putting together a show with music from South Africa, including songs off of this new CD.  Get a glimpse by listening to the podcast: HFVS Music from South Africa with Guest DJ, Debbie Lan (Radio Show/Podcast)

Chocolalala  Mister G

Hilltown Families Contributing Writer, Mister G, put out another excellent CD this year, Chocolalala. This new collection of original bilingual songs spans musical genres… from bossa nova to ska, funk to folk, rap to pop.  Songs that are educational teach young listeners basic concepts while engaging adults with captivating Latin rhythms.  In his monthly vlog on Hilltown Families, “Under the Hat: Independent Music Education,” Mister G goes a step further with his music, taking viewers into the backstory of songs released on this award-winning CD, and insight to the process of music making.  Check out his column to see his vlog: Under the Hat: Independent Music Education.

The Hero in You  Ellis Paul

Known for his deeply felt and socially conscious songwriting, often about heroes, Ellis Paul was inspired by his two daughters to write about people who contributed something to their world.  The result… The Hero in YouHeroes featured on this educational CD include both well known and little know heroes. “These people did amazing things, but they can also inspire young people today to go out and do something out of the ordinary to become the heroes of their own lives,” explains Ellis Paul about this new release.  Last winter Ellis guest DJed the Hilltown Family Variety Show, including songs from this new album. Check out the podcast to get a sample of songs: HFVS Guest DJ, Ellis Paul Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Love is a Superpower  Ben Rudnick & Friends

We’ve loved Ben Rudnick & Friends since the beginning!  Hailed as a founding member of the modern family music scene, Ben Rudnick & Friends continues to be a beloved band all family members will enjoy with their tenth release of Love is a Superpower.  The band is good, really good… carving out their own unique music style that blends neo-western swing, bluegrass, folk music and flavors of rock. High quality musicianship seeps out slowly and steadily with each song, mixed with catching lyrics to which Ben Rudnick’s vocals bring wit and charm.  In the late summer, Ben guest DJed the Hilltown Family Variety Show, bringing us a show all about love, including cuts off of this new album.  Here’s the podcast and video to get a sample of this new CD: HFVS Love Episode with Guest DJ, Ben Rudnick (Radio Show/Podcast)

Middle of Nowhere  Elska

Receiving an honorable mention in the Fids and Kamily Music Awards, Elska is a newcomer to the kindie music scene.  Elska is a fictional character living on a newly formed Arctic island where explorations are set against playful modern music and the delicate voice of Shelly Wollert.  Songs like “Arctic Fox,” “Midnight Sun in the Arctic,” and “Winter Bear” tell stories of Elska on this new island and what she discovers.

HOW TO WIN

Hilltown Families has been serving Western MA since 2005 as a grassroots communication network! Being able to share community building events, community based educational opportunities, and community service experiences over the years, along with terrific music that brings families and the community together is song, has been a great honor! Share with us your wishes for the next year(s) and be entered to win this fantastic family music collection of 11 CD’s released this past year. To enter for a chance to win simply:

  • POST YOUR WISHES FOR A NEW YEAR AS OUTLINED ABOVE IN THE FIELDS BELOW (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • PLEASE CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below.
  • We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline to enter for a chance to win is: Jan 19, 2013 by 11:59pm.

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.)

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.)

%d bloggers like this: