Why I Go To Church and Baseball Games

DiamondbacksLogo.gifAs I sat amongst roughly 49,000 other fans last night at Chase Field watching the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks thoroughly dominate the Milwaukee Brewers 8-1 to force their playoff series to a Game Four, it occurred to me that there are two places where praying publicly is tolerated or even expected -- church and your local sporting stadium ("oh please, oh please, turn the double play"). I'm not sure there's a direct connection, but those are the two places where you can expect to hear group singing on a regular basis. In the Christian church, regardless of whether you're singing Ralph Vaughan Williams or some modern praise song, there will likely be at least a couple points where your vocal participation is encouraged. And every sporting event will start out with the national anthem (two, at most hockey games), with sing-song chants (or actual songs) used to varying degrees in different stadia and sports. I have long sung the praises (so to speak) of singing in groups. Bill Harley suggests that "singing is an expression and fostering of community." In that regard, it's not that surprising that religion and sports -- two realms in which community is an essential component of participation and enjoyment -- still turn to communal singing as ways of bringing and keeping its attendees in the fold. Singing those centuries-old hymns that I may never have heard before but sound so familiar anyway -- that's one of the things I most enjoy about church. And sports? I suspect that one of the reasons I have little taste for pro basketball (and to a lesser extent pro football and hockey) is that after the national anthem, the crowd is mostly silent, relentlessly pummeled by a sound system cranked up to loud volumes in order to generate a simulacrum of energy. College sports (at least when and where I went to school) generally had more crowd participation, at least in certain sections, as the cheers and songs were crowd-driven -- between the fight songs and the bands playing the same dozen or so popular songs game in, game out, I did a fair amount of singing on fall Saturday afternoons and winter Wednesday evenings. Two of my favorite sports -- baseball and soccer -- may just be the biggest encouragers of song and chant in the sporting world. Soccer matches around the globe have songs and chants echoing through the stands for the entire game. And in baseball, besides the chants which seem every bit as important to some kids' rhythmic development as patty-cake ("here we go, D-Backs, here we go!") and which occur more often, it seems, than at other professional sporting events, we have at least one other song where it's exepcted that everyone sings. Even better, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" is sung across Major League Baseball, so even if you're visiting another stadium you're guaranteed to be able to sing it. (And now you often get "God Bless America" thrown into the mix, a song which, regardless of your take on God's blessing of America, does have a pretty cool melodic line and is quite fun to sing.) I'm not going to suggest that you take your kids to church -- no way am I stepping into that discussion -- but I am going to suggest that you take your kids to a baseball game for their musical development. I don't know if Bill Harley would agree, but I'm willing to bet he's a baseball fan...

The Ketchup Report, Vol. 8

Time once again for all the news that didn't fit into a separate post due to time, interest, contractual, or legal obligations -- it's your favorite pun-titled file folder of a blog post, the Ketchup Report! Yaaay! (Cue Kermit the Frog wild arm-flailing here...) WorldOfHappiness.jpgThe World of Happiness single, the "We Are the World" of the kids' biz, "A World of Happiness," is here. Except your kids might actually want to listen to this new song when they become parents themselves. Sales of the single, produced by Tor Hyams and Joanie Leeds, benefit Autism Speaks. The single includes a whole host of folks besides Leeds and Hyams -- Molly Ledford (who gets the honor of leading off the track), Frances England, Ralph Covert... it just goes on and on. A bunch of the participants will be recording a concert later this month for broadcast on Sirius/XM Radio later on. Anyway, it's $1.29 well-spent right here. I could probably start a whole separate post listing all the recent crowdfunding projects in the kids music world. Heck, it's almost getting to the point where I could start a blog listing all the recent crowdfunding projects in the kids music world. I've been partial to Kickstarter, of course. The two most recent projects have been a Professor Banjo and his successful second-album project and Ryan SanAngelo and his not-one-but-two-Kickstarter-projects. But other sites do the same basic thing. Van Oodles didn't quite succeed in making a video for a song of his, but LA indie-rockers Ellen and Matt and Chicago's Laura Doherty are both looking for funds for their next disks. Should you feel so inclined, help out Ellen and Matt here and Laura for her new album Shining Like a Star in the widget there to the side. -- For a limited time, Doctor Noize's "Bananas" iWhatever app is free. Download the ever-so-slightly-educational app here. (Note: may no longer be free.) -- Finally, with Earth Day coming up, a it's time for Earth Day-related tunes. Dan Zanes has a new, original tune, "Hail the Creatures" written by Zanes for a new exhibit at the Philadelphia Zoo. You don't need to be near Philly to enjoy the track, just near an iTunes-enabled gadget that can download this, with proceeds benefiting the Zoo. (More details on the tune and the Zoo's new exhibit here.)... Bill Harley is offering a free download of "Keep It Green" from his 1996 album Big Big World -- you can get it here... And finally, DARIA is offering a mini-CD of 6 "earth friendly" songs, free just for the price of an e-mail address (and an earth-friendly suggestion).

The Ketchup Report, Vol. 6

Another collection of random bits from around the kindie-webs... -- Perpetual Grammy nominee Bill Harley is offering up another free track. This one is - gasp! - a quarter-century old. It's "I'm On My Way" from his 1986 album 50 Ways To Fool Your Mother and it's a nifty re-working of the old traditional tune... -- The long-in-the-making "We Are the World"-style jam "A World of Happiness" is finally making its way to the light of day. Joanie Leeds and Tor Hyams released a YouTube video explaining the project, which basically boils down, "a whole bunch of kindie artists lending their talents to a single song to raise money for charity." That works for me. Originally pegged as a Haiti-relief song, now the charity of choice will be picked by a vote. -- The Wales-based animation studio Planet Sunday, best known here probably for their animation work for The Hipwaders and Debbie and Friends, also helps run their Animation Academy. The Academy (now a non-profit organization, shows kids ages 8 and up how animated films are made and gives them the chance to make their own films. Their most recent workshop resulted in a music video for The Hipwaders. According to Planet Sunday founder Greg David, "The kids and parents really got a lot out of it, and it really improved the format of the day." They've got two workshops lined up this month, on the 23rd and 25th February. One band is already interested, but they're looking to get someone else on board -- i.e., another kindie band. While David says they try to keep the costs down for kids as much as possible by getting grants and other funding to cover the cost of equipment and materials, etc., if a band would like to make a donation of either money and/or goodies for the kids it'd be much appreciated. (And, I suppose, that would go for anyone, regardless of their kindie-rocking status.) If interested, drop 'em a line here. -- I normally wouldn't like this video from L.A.'s Mista Cookie Jar -- it's way too overdone for my own tastes -- but they all combine into something... else. It's probably the tune, which is earwormy, and downloadable for free (or donation) right here... Mista Cookie Jar - "Joey the Dogg" [YouTube]

Grammy 2011 Children's Concert

JustinChair.jpgNow that the 2011 Grammy nominations have been announced, it's time once again for the now-annual concert featuring many of the 2011 Children's Grammy Nominees. On Saturday, February 12th, from 10:30 am to 11:30 am at The Mint in LA (as opposed to the Grammy Museum). For this year’s concert, the nominees are donating their performances, with net ticket proceeds going to Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. Music nominees confirmed include Justin Roberts, The Battersby Duo, and Judy Pancoast. Spoken word nominees include Bill Harley and Steve Pullara (with Oran Etkin). More folks will be announced soon. Tickets are $12.50 in advance, $15 at the door, with non-walking babies ages one and under free. (Is there a test on this last part?) Should be fun. There's also a networking lunch after the show for folks in "the biz." If you're interested, drop Beth Blenz-Clucas at Sugar Mountain PR a line.

Thanksgiving Feast, Family Music-Style

First you'll need to get to where you're going. Jim Cosgrove is offering up a free download of his song "Gobble Across the USA" here (enter "gobble" as the checkout code). As Cosgrove notes, it's not really a Thanksgiving song, but it features a lot of gobbling and a lot of food, which seems appropriate enough for me. Then, once you get there, the prayer, courtesy of Bill Harley. His poem is called "Thanksgiving Prayer" and regardless of your religious affiliation (or lack thereof), I think you'll appreciate it. [And here's a second blessing of sorts, this one coming from the Harmonica Pocket -- it's called "Give Thanks" and you can download it here.]

The Ketchup Report, Vol. 3

Another Ketchup Report, slathering kids music news all across the internet with all-natural ingredients. -- Bill Harley channels a little Dylan and Guthrie on his song "Enough Is a Feast," which he's now offering as a free download here through Thanksgiving. (If you want to contribute to or volunteer at a food bank at this time of year when food is maybe even more important than it usually is, Harley suggests finding one here.) -- I'm a longtime fan of the Tricycle Music Fest, even after its cross-country move to San Francisco. Check out the videos from last month's edition here, including "Tricycle," of course, from Frances England and other videos from Charity Kahn and the Time Outs. -- Twin Cities folks, heads up, Clementown, the Okee Dokee Brothers, and Adam Levy are playing a benefit show on Saturday, December 4 for friends of Clementown's, Krista and Terry, who've both been diagnosed with cancer. Great lineup, good cause. More details here. -- I'm also a fan of the "Listen To Your Buds" campaign encouraging kids not to turn up their speakers (or headphones) to 11. This fall's performers? Oran Etkin, who's performing in Philadelphia public schools this week and Brady Rymer. -- Gustafer Yellowgold, back on (off-)Broadway! Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock will have a run of Saturday performances (11 AM and 1 PM) at the DR2 Theatre, 103 E. 15th St. New York City, from February 26 through April 2. It apparently will include the song "Wisconsin Poncho," which is "set in an all-cheese clothing store." This, friends, is why I love kids music. -- The Kindiependent concert at the Seattle Public Library some of you may have heard about? 1,500 people, folks. Strength in numbers, that's what it's about. The group's got a couple new concert series coming up in the Seattle area starting this fall, too...