Partying with the 2015 Children's Grammy Nominees

Logo for 2015 Children's Grammy Nominees concert

Logo for 2015 Children's Grammy Nominees concert

Growing up, Beth Blenz-Clucas and Regina Kelland didn't have the same opportunities to see kids musicians that our kids have today.  When I asked the two of them what memories they had of seeing concerts when they were kids, they couldn't really come up with a good answer.  Sure, they took some music lessons, listened to music on the radio, did arts activities in school.  There's definitely a shared history of Disney soundtracks -- both mentioned Mary Poppins.  They went to a few classical music concerts with their parents or a school field trip.  But a concert meant just for them as kids?  Not really.

Fast forward a number of years, and Blenz-Clucas and Kelland are couple of the best-known publicists for the children's music genre, Blenz-Clucas with Sugar Mountain PR and Kelland with To Market Kids.  And in addition to promoting individual artists' musical efforts, for the past several years they've produced a benefit concert held the same weekend as the Grammy Awards.

This year's nominees for the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Children's Recording feature five first-time nominees, all of them independent artists (with Jose-Luis Orozco nominated for his very first album with Smithsonian Folkways).  And for the seventh straight year, the benefit concert will feature the children's album nominees.

Covers of 2015 Children's Grammy Nominee albums

Covers of 2015 Children's Grammy Nominee albums

On Saturday, February 13, all five nominees -- Orozco, Tim Kubart, Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly, Lori Henriques, and Morgan Taylor (aka Gustafer Yellowgold -- will perform at this year's concert, held at Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood.  It's a unique opportunity to see these five artists performing separately and, perhaps, together.  When asked about favorite memories from past concerts, Blenz-Clucas and Kelland both remembered the group singalongs -- Brady Rymer and everyone singing "Mony Mony" last year, the group including Elizabeth Mitchell and Alastair Moock singing Pete Seeger the year before.

Alastair Moock and Elizabeth Mitchell at Children's Grammy Nominee concert in 2014.

Alastair Moock and Elizabeth Mitchell at Children's Grammy Nominee concert in 2014.

Beyond the special nature of the performances, the concert is notable also for its benefit nature.  Because it's a volunteer-run enterprise, Blenz-Clucas, Kelland, and the other producers (which have included Karen Rapaport McHugh, musician Cathy Fink, producer Tor Hyams and booker and current event co-producer KC Mancebo, with Mancebo's husband David Tobocman providing a lot of assistance) have always charged money for the show to at least cover the cost of facility rental and the technical crew.  Beyond the expenses, ticket revenues go to benefit a group that works with the age range that the nominated artists typically target -- that is, kids roughly 10 and under.

In past years, the proceeds have been donated to Mr. Holland's Opus (one year the monies went to help the organization buy harps) and Little Kids Rock.  This year's beneficiary is the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra's Music in the Schools program.  And while the SJO was founded in 2001 dedicated to "perpetuating the uniquely American genre of symphonic jazz," its Music in the Schools program has a much broader focus of providing year-long sequential, comprehensive music education in Los Angeles County schools to more than 3,000 students per week.  SJO founder and music director Mitch Glickman says he's "thrilled" that they'll be the beneficiary of this year's concert, which will help them further expand the residencies the Music in the School program provides.

In any case, the concert starts at 11 AM on the 13th, and tickets for the concert ($15 in advance, $20 the day of show) are available here.  And while I certainly recommend attending the show if you're in the L.A. area with kids that weekend, if you're not around, Sirius-XM's Kids Place Live, whose fearless leaders Mindy Thomas and Kenny Curtis are emceeing the concert, will be broadcasting the show a couple times that weekend.

Perhaps the concert isn't quite as exciting as seeing Queen (Kelland's favorite group) in concert, but look at this shot from last year's show, which included the Pop Ups.  It will be celebratory.

The Pop Ups perform at the 2014 Children's Grammy Nominees concert in February 2015

The Pop Ups perform at the 2014 Children's Grammy Nominees concert in February 2015

Beyond the concert, the weekend also features an adults-only, industry-only luncheon afterwards close by to the concert.  The concert, in fact, grew out of a luncheon organized in 2005 by Lynn Orman to celebrate Ella Jenkins' Lifetime Achievement Award and a networking event coordinated by Karen Rapaport McHugh a couple years later.  While in past years they've had speakers (John Simpson's talk on SoundExchange and Bill Harley discussing Artists for Sake Kids were a couple highlights Kelland and Blenz-Clucas recall), this year they've decided to forgo the guest speakers so as to maximize the one-on-one networking time for the attendees.  As Blenz-Clucas noted, even the Los Angeles artists don't get together too often given the size of the region, so it's an opportunity for them to get together.  And as great as events like KindieComm and Hootenanny are, their East Coast setting can make it harder for some West Coast artists to attend, so hopefully this provides them more of an opportunity to network.

It, too, should be a lot of fun, and I'll be there to join in the festivities.  If you're in "the biz" and want to join, drop Blenz-Clucas, Kelland, or Mancebo a line, and they'll direct you where you need to go.

KC Mancebo, Cathy Fink, Regina Kelland, Beth Blenz-Clucas at 2014 Children's Grammy Nominee concert

KC Mancebo, Cathy Fink, Regina Kelland, Beth Blenz-Clucas at 2014 Children's Grammy Nominee concert

Photo credits: Pop Ups in concert (McCarthy Photo Studio); Alastair Moock and Elizabeth Mitchell in concert, KC Mancebo, Cathy Fink, Regina Kelland, and Beth Blenz-Clucas (Jodye Alcon)

Radio Playlist: New Music January 2016

It has been more than two months since I last posted a playlist of new music, so, understandably, this first list of 2016 is longer than most.  Lots of new music coming up, too.  (If you want to catch my list from October you can see that playlist here.)

As always, it's limited in that if an artist hasn't chosen to post a song on Spotify, I can't put it on the list, nor can I feature songs from as-yet-unreleased albums.  But I'm always keeping stuff in reserve for the next Spotify playlist.

Check out the list here.

**** New Music January 2016 (January 2016 Kindie Playlist) ****

"He & She" - Linda Perry and Sara Gilbert

"Grandma Gatewood" - Jeff & Paige

"Over in the Meadow" - The Laurie Berkner Band

"The Boy Who Cried Chupacabra" - The Hipwaders

"Fiddlin' Jim" - Liz, Holly, and the Jolly Lollies

"La Golondrina" - Sonia De Los Santos

"When I Grow Up" - The Raging Idiots

"Stella Ella Ola" - Mr. Chris & the Gassy Bubbles

"Latkes for Breakfast" - Mister G

"Do the Latin Alphabet" - Kinderjazz

"Looking Up" - The Jamberries

"Buzz, Buzz, Buzz" - Tom Proutt, Emily Gary

"Wave Hello" - Sonshine and Broccoli

"Sharky Life Forever" - Sharky Sharky

"Fais dodo" - Nadia Gaudet, Jason Burns

Monday Morning Smile: "I Believe in Little Things" - Diana Panton

I Believe in Little Things cover

I Believe in Little Things cover

What was it I said last week?  "More joy."  Well, Joe Raposo makes just about everything more joyful.

Canadian jazz musician Diana Panton turned to Raposo for the title track to her kid-friendly album I Believe in Little Things.  The album was originally released in September 2015, but is going to get a bigger push here south of the Canadian border in 2016, and with tracks like the title track, I think it'll be well-received in the kindie world.

The video for "I Believe in Little Things" is charming and whimsical, and Panton's warm and clear voice elegantly lays out Raposo's masterful lyrics, with Jacqui Lee's illustration a perfect fit.  Definitely an album to look forward to (or hear now, if you don't want to wait).

Diana Panton - "I Believe in Little Things" [YouTube]

Video: "Sheep Don't Wear Shoes" - Marsha Goodman-Wood (World Premiere!)

Though I've been listening to kids music for about 15 years now, I can still be surprised by what tickles my fancy.  What was it then about this video for "Sheep Don't Wear Shoes," a simple little ditty from Marsha Goodman-Wood, off her album Gravity Vacation?  The gentle (though not over-the-top) message of independence?  The big-eyed sheep illustrated by Danielle Dekoker and assembled into video form by fellow kids musician Patricia Shih?  The fact that it stars sheep (I do like my animated sheep)?

I'm still not entirely sure, but I liked it enough to be happy to world-premiere the video this morning.

(Plus, my last name is "Shepherd.")

Marsha Goodman-Wood - "Sheep Don't Wear Shoes" [YouTube]

Who Gives a Hoot (2)? Bill Childs and Stephanie Mayers

Hootenanny 2: Back to Basics logo

Hootenanny 2: Back to Basics logo

Many years ago, way back in the wild and woolly kindie year of 2007, Bill Childs and Stephanie Mayers put together a little party in Brooklyn. They called it Hootenanny and, well, from a distance, it sounded like a blast.  Nothing but kids musicians playing their music for other kids musicians and other folks in the industry.  The party went on into the wee hours (like, the actual wee hours, not the wee hours that these musicians typically play).

The next year, Hootenanny became more officially known as Stink, then it became Stinkfest, then Kindiefest, and yadda yadda yadda.  Great times indeed, but the "conference" part with panels and badges and registration became a bigger part of the work, and while the "playing music for others part" never went away, the focus was not as much on that industry-only performance.

But Mayers (head of Mayers Consulting) and Childs (Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child) are getting the band back together, concert-speaking-wise, anyway, hosting Hootenanny 2: Back to Basics on Saturday, January 16.  It's going to be held at Jalopy in Brooklyn (the same place the first three gatherings were held) -- tickets available here -- and with the following lineup I can't imagine it'll be anything but a blast:

Rachel Loshak and Morgan Taylor (Gustafer Yellowgold)
Vered Ronen and Walter Martin
Michael & the Rockness Monsters and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Jazzy Ash and KB Whirly
Ashley Albert and Tim Kubart
Joanie Leeds and Dan Elliott (Pointed Man Band)
Danny Weinkauf (TMBG) and AudraRox
Sonia de los Santos and Brady Rymer
Shine & Dan Zanes
The Deedle Deedle Dees and Moona Luna
Elena Moon Park & The Pop Ups

So, yeah, folks who are industry-related who are going to be around NYC the weekend of the 16th, you should totally go to that -- it'll be a blast to see those people perform, and just talk to them.  (As in the old days, these are not shows for kids themselves...)

But I wanted to get a little more background from Mayers and Childs on their memories of the first go-round, and their inspiration and hopes for the new show.

Zooglobble: Do you have a favorite moment from the old Hootenanny/Stinkfest?

Stephanie Mayers: I think it was giggling and singing along to the Deedle Deedle Dees with Audra[Rox] while sipping champagne at like 1:00 am, more buzzed on the energy of what we had just done more than the champagne. What an energetic, surprising night it turned out to be.

Bill Childs: The utter ridiculousness of the first one -- which grew from Audra saying, "Hey, you should record the show when you're here in Brooklyn" to nearly two dozen bands playing 'til way past midnight -- was just a delight.  There have been a lot of great moments throughout the later events, but yeah, the surprise.

Stephanie Mayers with cardboard Bill Childs

Stephanie Mayers with cardboard Bill Childs

Who holds the Hoot record for most appearances? 

Bill: Gotta be a tie between the Deedle Deedle Dees and AudraRox, I'd think.

How did the idea for the collaborative theme of Hoot 2 come about? 

Stephanie: We were super excited to start bringing in as many people as we could but of course it’s just one night so time is limited. We started with just a couple pairings we thought would be fun and that we really wanted to see ourselves, then it just kind of snowballed into each set being a cool collaboration to maximize potential. 

Bill: Agreed, it was partially a practical idea to fit in more shows, but then it developed into being thematic.  One of the things that I'm proudest of in the scene, and our (small) part in it, has been the very cool collaborations that have come out of it.

How did the specific collaborations come about? Your suggestions, theirs, or some combination thereof? 

Stephanie: Mostly it was us, but of course we were open to suggestions from the artists. It was super fun and really indulgent for us playing matchmaker, getting to set up who we wanted to see blended together. I felt like a little Yenta.

What do you hope the attendees remember about Hoot 2 after it’s over?

Stephanie: I hope everyone is reminded that we are sharing this special, small space in our very niche genre and that while everyone gets bogged down trying working so hard to make things happen for themselves, that banding together once in a while can be a really great thing and gobs of fun.

Bill: The scene is better when the scene is together -- and it's strongest when everyone's having fun.