HFVS Rollin’ On Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:


Saturday from 9-10am
Original broadcast: September 19th, 2009
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

FEATURED VIDEO: Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck – “Big Truck” [Rockin’,Rollin’ and Ridin’]

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  • Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck – “Big Truck” [Rockin’,Rollin’ and Ridin’]
  • Joe West – “Dump Truck and Tractors” [If The World Was Upside Down]
  • Ben Rudnick & Friends – “Old Joe Clark” [A Frog Named Sam]
  • Station Id: The Harmonica Pocket [www.harmonicapocket.com]
  • PSA: Library Card Sign-Up Month
  • Lunch Money – “I Love My Library” [Dizzy]
  • Laura Doherty – “Firefly” [Kids in the City]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Wish” [Rock Your Socks Off]
  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • The Deedle Deedle Dees – “Teddy Days” [Freedom in a Box!]
  • Mr. David – “Crocodiles are Hungry” [Jump in the Jumpy House]
  • Burl Ives – “The Sailor and the Crocodile” [Burl Ives Favorites for Children]
  • Burl Ives- “The Crocodile Song” [Burl Ives Favorites for Children]
  • Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck – “Hey-O” (featuring Roscoe Orman) [Rockin’, Rollin’ and Ridin’]
  • Wicked Hemlocks – “Number Count” [Quill of the Mad]
  • School House Rock – “Three is a Magic Number” [School House Rock]
  • Station Id: Yosi & The Superdads [www.yosimusic.com]
  • AudraRox – “Moms & Dads” [Park Slope Parents: The Album]
  • Peter Himmelman – “Main Dish” [My Trampoline]
  • Uncle Rock – “Hippie Harvest Kitchen” [Uncle Rock U]

Recess Monkey Brings the Big Top to the Hilltown Family Variety Show this Saturday!

Recess Monkey Brings the Big Top to
the Hilltown Family Variety Show this Weekend

Kids’ music authority Stefan Shepherd (Zooglobble) has declared, ““Dan Zanes may be the godfather; They Might Be Giants, the legitimizer; and Laurie Berkner, Ralph Covert, and Justin Roberts the genre’s superstars. But Recess Monkey is the heart of kids’ music today.” – Check out this Saturday’s show as they guest DJ the Hilltown Family Variety Show. Listen live, via streaming audio or via podcast immediately following broadcast.

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, and children of all ages! Seattle’s celebrated band of teacher-rockers – Recess Monkey – will bring their special brand of “undeniably hip, yet also kid-accessible” music and humor to a stint as guest DJs for a special circus-themed radiobroadcast of Hilltown Family Variety Show on Northampton radio station 103.3FM WXOJ-LP (Valley Free Radio) this Saturday, June 23 at 9:00 a.m. and Sunday, June 24 at 7:00 a.m. Hilltown Family Variety Show programs are also available as podcasts any time immediately following broadcast.

Recess Monkey will offer live and pre-recorded songs from their new circus-themed album, In Tents, along with circus-oriented music from a number of the band’s favorite artists, including Ralph’s World, Sugar Free Allstars, Caspar Babypants, Ukulele Jim, Dog on Fleas, The Beatles, and even Robert Preston performing “Seventy Six Trombones” from Meredith Willson’s The Music Man.

An important element of In Tents is a 32-page story booklet that accompanies each CD. Right from the start, it’s apparent something big is going to happen in this story, as Recess Monkey enters the world of the all-American fantasy: running away to join the circus! Except, this time, through the trickery of the notorious Boregaard Noregaard, the circus joins Recess Monkey. From that point on, it’s a three-ring adventure: a fantastical celebration of popcorn, Tilt-a-Whirls, human cannonballs, dancing bears, and more, guaranteed to amaze, astound, and entertain. A highlight of the June 23 and 24 Hilltown Family Variety Show broadcasts will be Recess Monkey reading the In Tents booklet aloud. Audiences will be able to follow along, for the booklet will be posted on the Recess Monkey homepage and on the Hilltown Familes website.

Enter to win!

Notes Recess Monkey’s Jack Forman, “The circus is such a perfect blend of comedy and drama, careful pre-planning and extemporaneous fun, high and low energy, all of which are elements that we work into our songs and shows. How have we not already done a circus album? We’ve talked about this album for years but finally found that we had assembled enough wacky ideas, catchy melodies and a narrative to bring it to fruition. In fact, we actually conceived the album as the soundtrack to the In Tents story that we wrote, inspired by Seattle’s magical Teatro ZinZanni. In Tents has emerged both as a circus story-inspired album and as a series of kid-oriented, circus spectacular shows in which we’ve join forces with Teatro ZinZinni in their historic spiegeltent. Pretty amazing!”

Giving a wacky, fantastical edge to the “everyday lives of kids,” Recess Monkey weaves puns, jokes stories, and shenanigans into its songs. No play on words is too much of a stretch, and no rhyme schemes are out of bounds for the group’s genre-bending set of catchy, singable and dance-able ditties that NPR described as “inventive, brilliant, multilayered.” Audiences call it “a great way to spend an hour rocking out!”

8th Birthday Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

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8th Birthday Episode

Featured Video: “Figure Eight” by They Might Be Giants

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
July 3rd & 4th, 2010
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

listen NOW | listen on WXOJ | archived shows/podcasts request a song | subscribe to free podcast | contests & giveaways | myspace | facebook | twitter

New Tunes for June: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

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New Tunes for June Episode

Lots of new music to share this week.  Like what you hear?  Support these great indie artists and add their music to your family music library by clicking on the title of each album.

Featured Video: “When One Became Two” by The Verve Pipe,
from their new CD,  A Family Album.

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
June  5th & 6th, 2010
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

listen NOW | listen on WXOJ | archived podcasts request a song | subscribe to free podcast | archived shows | contests & giveaways | myspace | facebook | twitter


HFVS Giveaway: (Tickets & CD) Justin Roberts at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA


Justin Roberts new CD, Pop Fly.

Justin Roberts new CD, "Pop Fly."

At the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA

Sunday, AUGUST 23rd at 2pm

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win a family 4-pack of  tickets to see Justin Roberts at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA, plus a copy of his newest award-winning CD, Pop Fly. Find out how to enter to win below.


Bring your dancing shoes to these toe-tapping, all-ages concerts featuring 5-time Parents’ Choice GOLD award-winner. Known for catchy, unique music that keeps kids and parents coming back for more, Justin’s concerts feature a wide range of musical styles. He and the Not Ready for Naptime Players dish out intelligent and whimsically rocking music for all ages to enjoy together.

Justin and the Not Ready for Naptime Players will perform new tunes and old favorites, some of which are featured as music videos on Noggin TV. Their tunes have been featured on NBC-TV’s Today show and many other radio and television shows.

Justin celebrates the success of his newest CDs, Meltdown and Pop Fly, which both win national awards and critical acclaim. Pop Fly was selected as one of the top children’s music releases of 2008 by USA Today, Amazon.com, NPR Music and the annual Fids and Kamily Poll.

You can discover more about Justin Roberts at www.justinroberts.org.

  • On Saturday, August 22nd, Justin Roberts will be a featured artist on the Hilltown Family Variety from 9-10am on 103.3FM WXOJ, Northampton, MA (Valley Free Radio)  Tune in or listen live via streaming audio at Valley Free Radio.


The No Nap Happy Hour concert series will feature the kinds of bands that seem to have taken their cue from They Might Be Giants in believing that kids’ music doesn’t have to condescend or, well, suck. The Iron Horse is teaming up with WRSI radio program for kids, Spare The Rock, Spoil The Child, to present a monthly Sunday afternoon concert for kids at the Iron Horse.  This Sunday matinee concert series for kids continues at the Iron Horse on Sunday, August 23rd at 2PM with Justin Roberts. Click HERE to see what’s coming up in this wonderful concert series for kids.


Your chance to win a family 4-pack of  tickets to see Justin Roberts at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA, plus a copy of his newest CD, Pop Fly is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply

  1. POST A COMMENT BELOW and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) PLEASE include your town and state to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 08/19/09 @ 7pm (EST).

If you don’t win you should still go! Tickets for the No Nap Happy Hour concert series are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

High Concept, High Reward (Music Review)

High Concept, High Reward
By Bill Childs, HF Contributing Writer

Sesame Street Playground CD & DVD

Sesame Street Playground CD & DVD

CDs aimed at kids are rarely what the industry calls “high concept” – that is, with a Big Theme running throughout, or a clever idea at their core.  Sure, you occasionally get the food-themed record or the alphabet/number collections, but rarely anything more than that.  This month, a few releases that break the mold and, mostly, pay off with their gamble.

Putumayo Kids – Sesame Street Playground: There’s no better concept yet this year: Sesame Street songs from around the world, plus a DVD with a handful of videos from international editions of the essential kids’ series.  And Putumayo pulls it off, from the Dutch opening to a Chinese “Rubber Duckie” to a French “La Chanson de l’Amité” that sounds exactly as French as you’d hope, to the driving Israeli “En Den Dino.”  It’s not perfect – at least for me, I can think of a lot of U.S. songs I’d put ahead of “Elmo’s Song” to represent the domestic version of the show – but the highs easily outweigh the lows.  (And I probably just resent Elmo, coming as he did after I was done with the show.  Like Scrappy on Scooby Doo; can’t stand him either.)  The DVD just adds to the fun, giving kids a look at what Sesame Street is like overseas.  www.putumayo.com

Yes to Running

Yes to Running

Bill HarleyYes to Running: Harley is a very funny musician and storyteller, well known for both his kids’ stuff and his commentaries on NPR’s All Things Considered.  Frankly, his studio CDs have always left me a little underwhelmed, but this two-CD set, recorded live at a high-energy show in Montana, helps me understand his success.  Harley’s at his core a storyteller (even in his songs), and clearly thrives on audience participation.  You don’t need to get past the first track (“I Like to Sing”) to get a sense of the sheer fun that must be seeing him live.  The CDs also include several lengthy musical stories, including the very funny “Mom and the Radio.”  He’s utterly engaging and has a great sense of comic timing, and has a bluntness and self-deprecating wit that kids no doubt will love (noting that “only an idiot” would sled down a huge hill, and that they did, “because we were idiots”).  Add in his willingness to good-naturedly mock parents along with himself and it’s a lot of fun.  It’s not as big a concept as, say, Sesame Street Playground, but it’s definitely a CD that’s much more about the whole than any of its parts.  www.billharley.com

Spanglish Wrangler

Spanglish Wrangler

Will Thomas – Spanglish Wrangler: Now Miami-based Will Thomas performs relaxed alt-country with a blues touch, more or less, with lyrics in, as the title suggests, some Spanish, some English – Spanglish – in every song.  The arrangements and production have a bit of a G. Love/Jack Johnson/Ben Taylor vibe, with a couple of songs based on classics (“Cucaracha” based on Earth Wind & Fire’s “September,” and “They Call It Spanish Monday” on T. Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday”).  If you’re looking for some Spanish language in your kids’ environment, this is a great, accessible, non-cheesy record, with some gentle humor (“Broccoli,” for instance, involves a kid’s bargaining for more – yes, more! – broccoli).  While there are a handful of songs out there with both English and Spanish (the Jimmies’ terrific “Spanimals” comes to mind), this is the first kids’ record I can remember that reflects the reality in many households of both languages intermingling.  It sounds effortless but hits the spot.  www.willthomas.com

Bill Childs & Ella

Bill Childs

Bill teaches law school by day in Springfield. With his kids, he produces a radio show for kids, Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, which airs on Saturday mornings on 93.9 The River (7-9 AM, 101.5 in Brattleboro) and 103.3 Valley Free Radio (8-10 AM). He’s also a columnist for regional parenting magazines, covers music for Parenting magazine, and is a bi-monthly contributing writer to Hilltown Families. Contact him at show@sparetherock.com

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