V-log: Robots in Springfield!

V-log: Dances with Robots
by Tom Adams (Hilltown Families Contributing Writer)

Come along as my family and I journey to Springfield MA’s Symphony Hall (after a little detour) to see “Dances with Robots” a presentation by James McLurkin.  My apologies for sub-par audio/video quality- I guess I won’t be using my still-camera’s video settings anymore.

Stay tuned for the next ‘vlog’ from ReelifeProductions. Never know where we’re headed next…

Tom Adams

Tom lives and works in Williamsburg, MA with his wife, two kids, dog maggie & cat charlie. He is a graduate of UMASS, Amherst and has over 15 years of experience in the fields of educational, commercial and corporate video production. In 1996, he founded Reelife Documentary Productions (1997 & 2008 Telly Award recipient). He is an active member of Hidden-Tech, the Chair of the Williamsburg Technology Committee and Chair of The Williamsburg Cultural Arts Committee. Read the rest of this entry »

V-log: Reel Blues Festival in Northampton

V-log: Reel Blues Festival
by Tom Adams (Hilltown Families Contributing Writer)

It figures my first contribution to this fine website should be a little video I put together late last night (and early this morning) after the excitement of the night had simmered down.  Ya’ see, I won some tix from Monty on WRSI (93.9 the River) to the Reel Blues Festival at The Academy of Music and since I’m a ‘video guy’, instead of delving too far into the world of blogging and journalistic writing, I figured I stick to what I know best and send out a a little “V-log” of my night out on the town with my buddy Max.  Just one of the many great events happening in and around the Hilltowns on a fine mid-September eve- one of the things that make living in this area so fantastic.  Enjoy!

Tom Adams

Tom lives and works in Williamsburg, MA with his wife, two kids, dog maggie & cat charlie. He is a graduate of UMASS, Amherst and has over 15 years of experience in the fields of educational, commercial and corporate video production. In 1996, he founded Reelife Documentary Productions (1997 & 2008 Telly Award recipient). He is an active member of Hidden-Tech, the Chair of the Williamsburg Technology Committee and Chair of The Williamsburg Cultural Arts Committee. Read the rest of this entry »

All Dressed Up and Somewhere Royally Fun to Go!

Royally Rockin’ Good Time!

Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

Princess Katie & Racer Steve were a blast on Saturday during their afternoon costume performance at Lyman Hall in Northampton, MA. We had a terrific turn-out despite the rain, and Princess Katie had the kids rockin’ out and doing the tango, with the parents laughing and joining in. Big thanks to everyone who came out (and for dressing-up!). Click here to see photos.

P. Katie is a royal card, playing up the roll as a princess in caricature! The few weeks leading up to their performance she wrote several entries for Hilltown Families. Click here to read her entries. Hopefully she’ll continue to send us her updates from her Kingdom in NY.

Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

The most memorable moment of the performance for me (albeit embarrassing) was having her sing Happy Birthday to me (and Liam of Spare the Rock fame). I kept shouting to my daughter (dressed in character as a cheetah), “Look honey, Princess Katie is singing Mommy Happy Birthday!” I felt like a little kid! It was great. But Persephone was too busy crawling around on the floor picking up confetti and streamers to be bothered. — I turned the big four-zero on Sunday (Liam turned six a few days earlier) and having the witty Princess Katie sing Happy Birthday was a memorable present. Thanks Katie!

Below is a low-fi video I took during the performance of their funky song, “Hey Claire!” off of their new CD Fast & Feisty. Click here if you didn’t get a chance to pick up a copy at the concert or couldn’t make it out. And be sure to check out their fun and interactive website at www.princessracer.com. BTW, our next music promo for the Hilltown Family Variety Show will be to win their Songs for the Coolest Kids CD along with the t-shirts they submitted to the HFVS T-Shirt Review. So be sure to check back!

I Love You! Spiderman! Rock n’ Roll!

Kids Rock ‘n Roll with Uncle Rock at the Florence Civic Center

Wow! The Florence Civic Center was rockin’ on Saturday to a full house with Uncle Rock, at a mid-winter kids concert sponsored by Hilltown Families (click here to see photos). It was an excellent performance with new music from his third CD release, Uncle Rock U, plus many favorites from his past two CD’s. Thanks to all the folks that came out to celebrate Groundhogs Day with great music, and a special thanks to all the HF Volunteers for making the morning go so smoothly!

The title of this post , “I Love You! Spiderman! Rock n’ Roll!”, is an inside joke to families that were there on Saturday. Uncle Rock had me in stitches as he explained the different ways of exclaiming this same phrase in different sequences, all with variations of the same hand gesture. You had to be there – but just in case you weren’t, this one’s for you … Here is a short low-fi music video of “It’s Hot,” one of my favorite songs off of his new album:


(WXOJ) Hilltown Family Variety Show
Tune-in next Tuesday (02/15/08) to the Hilltown Family Variety Show for our special Valentine’s Day episode with co-host Persephone and Uncle Rock as our guest DJ as he serenades us with live music.

(WXOJ) Spare the Rock, Spoil the Rock
Uncle Rock was live in studio Saturday morning (02/02/08) pre-concert on Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child with Bill, Ella and Liam. Click here to access the archived show.

(WHMP) Vannah and Collins
And on Friday morning (02/01/08) Uncle Rock did a live call in interview with Vannah and Collins on WHMP in Northampton, MA. Click here to listen to that interview.

Ben Rudnick Guest DJ Episode on HFVS (01/08/08)


Ben & Presephone at WXOJ in Northampton HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW
Ben Rudnick Guest DJ Episode

with Ben Rudnick & Persephone

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA
Tuesday evening @ 7pm

01/08/08 PLAYLIST

listen now | subscribe to podcast | archived shows | contests



How lucky we were to have Ben Rudnick in studio to guest DJ an episode of HFVS with Persephone! A great guy with a GREAT band, Ben Rudnick & Friends (BR&F). Persephone & I got to enjoy a New Year’s Eve performance by BR&F at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA (Click here to see photos). The snow was heavy outside the museum after the previous evening’s snowfall, and families filtered in, filling chairs with coats, scarves and mittens. With Ben on guitar, John on mandolin and Arni on bass, these three seasoned performers started singing and playing, giving the audience a real American roots style concert … and the kids couldn’t keep still! Thirteen years of playing together shined through, giving the audience a Class Act performance. But if my gushing over BR&F isn’t convincing enough that this is a band your family must discover, take it from Parent’s Choice and NAPPA who have doled out a number of awards to this finger pickin’ good band. Look for new music by BR&F this year!


This week we’re offering Ben Rudnick music and apparel:

  • We have two copies of Grace’s Bell to give away:
  • along with their award winning t-shirt (Kid’s Pick) submitted to the HFVS T-shirt Review:

Kids Pick Award - Hilltown FamiliesWithout a doubt, Ben Rudnick & Friends design was one of the top three designs amongst our “Official Reviewers,” getting the most positive comments out of all submitted t-shirts. This design pulled off the blend of color and graphic design that appealed most to the kids. “I like the pink in the middle and red in a circle,” commented Antonia (age 5) of Florence, MA. “I like the cool guitar and the three eyes!” shared Jaden (age 5). It is noted that the tie-dye designs can vary, with blue centers and green swirls, or orange centers with yellow swirls … they can all turn out with different patterns and colors, which gives every shirt its own unique aspects.

HOW TO WIN: For your chance to win, simply post us a comment below. We’ll randomly draw TWO winners from everyone who leaves a comment. IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is 01/15/08 @ 7pm (EST).

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Suggested Events 01/05/08 – 01/11/08

2007 … A LOOK BACK

It’s been a little over a year since our first post here on Hilltown Families, and nearly 400 posts later we’re ringing in a New Year. Let’s take a look back at what happened here on Hilltown Families in 2007

  • Randy Kaplan (c) Hilltown FamiliesIn March 2007 a road trip to Brooklyn was planned, resulting in the discovery of great kid’s music at the Brooklyn Hootenanny (presented by Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child).

Wow! Loads of fun stuff! 2008 should be barrels of fun too! And now … a look ahead with this week’s list of suggested events.


Tekoa Mountain Adventures www.tekoamountainadventures.com

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Gustafer Punches Cheese in Florence

Gustafer Yellowgold at the Florence Civic Center

Gustafer Yellowgold in Florence (c) www.HilltownFamilies.orgLast February, Morgan Taylor and Rachel Loshak from Gustafer Yellowgold came to the Pioneer Valley for a memorable family performance at the Flywheel in Easthampton, MA. Well, lots has happen between then and now (for one thing, Flywheel closed their doors in March, with hopes to open again in the Old Town Hall in downtown Easthampton, a very exciting prospect! Click here to read Valley Advocate’s article). This past weekend they performed at the Florence Civic Center in Florence, MA, presented by Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.

Christy & Kai at the performance (c) www.HilltownFamilies.orgSince their last gig in our area, Gustafer Yellowgold came out with a new CD/DVD this fall, Have You Never Been Yellow?, a sequel to their first album, Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wide Wild World. This weekend’s performance included several songs off of their new CD, including “Punching Cheese,” “The Mustard Slugs” and “Beard For All Seasons.” Each of their songs is a blend of minimally animated illustrations that are accompanied by Taylor’s catchy and original ballads for a truly different multimedia experience. Here’s their performance of “The Mustard Slugs:”

Another exciting thing that has happen since their last visit is that their newest CD won the number one position on the Fids and Kamily Award, which Hilltown Families was invited to participate in as a judge! Congratulations! In a recent post to Hilltown Familes, Fids & Kamily 2007 Awards … My Vote!, written by HF Contributing Writer, Bill Childs from Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, Childs writes:

Liam during the performance (c) www.HilltownFamilies.orgHave You Never Been Yellow? – Gustafer Yellowgold (www.gustaferyellowgold.com). Gustafer is a small yellow fellow from the sun, and this, the second CD/DVD set to follow his Earthly exploits, is sweetly hilarious and musically rich. The CD stands on its own, but the DVD “moving story book” is what makes the package very nearly perfect.

And the last bit of exciting news we’ll share, Morgan and Rachel will be expecting their first child in a few months! Kudos you two! Wishing you wellness and joy.

Learning About Nature Through Music & Performance

Wings of a Feather with Constant Wonder at the Eric Carle Museum

(c) Hilltown Families

Connie and Alice of Constant Wonder. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

If you’re a parent or a teacher looking for music to supplement a nature based curriculum at school, or would like to get your kids more engaged in learning about the world around them, Grammy selected Constant Wonder has your name written all over it. Connie Gilles, a songwriter/teacher, and Alice Weiser, a dancer/singer/actress, are both from New York and love to teach facts and reverence for animals, insects and nature through both their music and interactive, on-stage performances.

My daughter and I met up with Connie and Alice on their most recent visit to our area. They stopped into the studio on Saturday (08/25/07) to do a guest DJ set with us, preceding their performance Wings of a Feather at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts. (Click here to listen.)

(c) Hilltown Families

Live on the Hilltown Family Variety Show at WXOJ 103.3FM, Northampton, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

The three of them hit it off famously. They loved listening to all of my daugher’s stories about insects and pets. They had her singing along and interacting with songs they perform live in the studio. And sharing their new treasures with her, she got a kick out of peacock feathers, an ostrich egg, and an emerald green emu egg they brought with them, presented by the folks at the Starlight Llama Solar B&B and Llama Farm in Florence, MA.

Following their guest DJ set, my daughter and I headed over to the Eric Carle Museum to see their live interactive performance. Their name, Constant Wonder, celebrates the wonder children have about the lives of animals and insects. The duo was a delight and very engaging with the audience. They performed several songs that drew on the theme of their show Wings of a Feather, including “Make A Wish,” “Ladybug,” “From Fluff to Feathers,” ”
Sometimes It’s Tough To Be a Bee,” “Magnificent,” and “Save Me, I’m Your Earth.”

(c) Hilltown Families

Performance at the Eric Carle Museum (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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Neither Rain Nor Soggy Signs Can Keep ’em Away

Even on a Wet Day Uncle Rock ROCKS!

Uncle Rock at the Children's Art Museum (Photo Credit: Sienna Wildfield)

At 8:30 a.m. on a dreary Saturday morning I was road-side in Shelburne Falls tacking up posters to the town center light posts … in the pouring rain! Posters that read, “Uncle Rock: This A Way,” and “Uncle Rock: That A Way.” You see this past Saturday was our long awaited Uncle Rock concert at the Children’s Art Museum (CAM), presented by Hilltown Families and Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.

I posted large signs with big arrows and orange helium balloons along the streets, getting soaking wet in a mini down-pour while tromping in the waist high stalks of Tansy and Goldenrod surrounding each utility pole. I talked myself through panic at the thought that no one would journey out from the comfort of their homes – out from under their dry sheets and away from their warm cups of coffee – on such a wet Saturday.

Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

I managed to get CAM’s space set up for the performance with my daughter on my heels, begging for yet another juice box from the bake sale table, before my volunteer army of two showed up along with our first family. (Thanks Seth & Angie!) And with their arrival came a silent sigh of relief. I thought if no one else cared to venture out on a dark and rainy Saturday morning, there would at least be two families in the audience. In my book, that’s a potential party!


But people DID arrive, driving as far away as West Chesterfield and Florence, and my angst started to subside! The space filled up with young children and parents, dancing around to music we play on HFVS, while we waited for Uncle Rock to arrive. And after an unexpected tour through Shelburne’s rainy roads, Uncle Rock showed up too … and the real party began! … And everyone loved him! … And they all looked happy … dancing around with music makers … eating treats from the bake sale table (thanks Julie & Angie!) … getting Uncle Rock CD’s signed and Uncle Rock T-shirts to wear to school this fall.

Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield

Along side many of our favorite songs from Plays Well With Others and Here We Go, the audience got a preview of songs from his upcoming CD, Uncle Rock U (due to hit the streets on October 9th, 2007). It was a really fun time!

Snap-Shots & Juice On-The-Rocks at Jalopy’s

Snap-Shots & Juice On-The-Rocks @ Jalopy’s

The Brooklyn Hootenanny was F-U-N! Bill & Audra did a swell job putting it together. My daughter & I are still tired! But it was well worth it. I’m too tired to really write anything creative, so instead I’ll offer a photo montage and videos from our adventure.

[rockyou id=62168595]

Lots of cool musicians, and even cooler kids. Click here to see a list of all the performers. You can be sure to hear many of these musicians on the Hilltown Family Variety Show, premiering this Tuesday at 7:00pm on WXOJ!

Read on and discover a couple of videos from the evening, and read what other’s are having to say about the Brookly Hootenanny:

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Hilltown Families Meet Gustafer Yellowgold

Gusterfer Yellowgold comes to the Pioneer Valley with a performance at the Flywheel in Easthampton, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

On Saturday morning Gustafer Yellowgold performed Gustafer Yellowgold Wild Wide World at Flywheel in Easthampton, MA, a family concert much supported and organized by Bill Childs of Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. A fun weekend performance for families with kids preK-3rd grade and early enough to get out afterwards to enjoy the first significant snow fall!

Preceeding the performance, families were served pancakes and the Pink Panther played on the big screen … all this before the invasion of a melancholic yellow alien from the sun – Gustafer Yellowgold – in a weekend morning music show!

The New York Times described Gustafer Yellowgold Wild Wide World as a cross between “Yellow Submarine” and Dr. Seuss, filtered through the lens of the Lower East Side, and after seeing this performance you may just find yourself concurring with this analogy.

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Elizabeth Street in Florence

Elizabeth Street did a live family concert this Saturday morning in Florence, performing music from their debut album, Different.

“Sometimes my initial response to new music is, “Wow, that’s really, um, different.” And by different, I mean bad. But sometimes different is good, as in the case of Different, the debut album from Elizabeth Street,” says CoolMomPicks.com

“In kids’ and family music, there are many albums with decent music but with lyrics that are just too… obvious. It is possible, however, to write lyrics that are direct enough for kids that aren’t so obvious as to make the parental eyes roll, and it’s that fine line that [Elizabeth Street] walks on [their] album,” writes Stefan Shepherd on ZooGlobble.com. Read the rest of this entry »

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