The high point in my list of the best kids music of 2011 is this, my list of my favorite kids music albums of the year. By "year," again, I mean albums with Nov. 1, 2010 through Oct. 31, 2011 release dates available to the general public. That means albums like Laura Veirs' Tumble Bee, with a Nov. 8, 2011 release date, have to wait another 12 months before appearing in this list. (I would be shocked -- albeit incredibly delighted -- if there were 25 albums better than that particular one in the next year.) I do use the word "favorite" advisedly. I receive something approaching 300 family music albums every year. I review maybe 20% of those. Last year I picked out 20 albums, and cutting off this list this year at 20 just seemed cruel. But, as it turns out, increasing the number on the list to 25 didn't make things any easier. Albums from folks like Laura Doherty, Chip Taylor, Todd McHatton, and ScribbleMonster -- albums I genuinely liked -- didn't make the list. That's what happens when albums in the top 10% of everything I heard this year can't fit into the number of slots available; I had probably about 40 albums I was seriously considering for this list. So the difference between what goes in this list and what stays off is as much about personal preferences as it is about "objective" quality. (That's why I came up with the idea for Fids and Kamily, thinking that the personal preferences of many folks would be a much better approximation of "best.") In any case, here are those 25 albums, ranked from most favorite to a little less most favorite, that I (and we) most appreciated this year. (As always, the top 10 reflects my Fids and Kamily ballot.) 1. Caspar Babypants Sing Along! [Review] "I really, really like Sing Along! -- the Caspar Babypants disks have been favorites at our house for a long time, and I see no reason why this new album won't join its predecessors in heavy rotation. If he can keep it up, Chris Ballew might just create a body of work for preschoolers to rival Raffi's."
The lineup for the 2011 edition of the Austin City Limits Festival (September 16-18, ugh, the humidity!) was announced this morning and, yeah, that top of the bill is pretty darn good. Stevie Wonder! Arcade Fire! Alison Krauss! Kanye West! My Morning Jacket! I've run out of exclamation points! (OK, now I have.) Still, scroll down a bit and you'll find the lineup for the Austin Kiddie Limits stage, not in a particularly friendly way, but the brainy among us can figure it out. As with the Kidzapalooza lineup, you can split the AKL lineup into 2 basic divisions. The first are the folks you'd most typically find here at this site... Sara Hickman Heidi Swedberg Mariana Iranzi Brady Rymer Recess Monkey That's a good lineup (heck, I've put on shows featuring three of 'em), and I think they're all a good fit for the AKL stage. Beyond that we have The Paul Green School of Rock, Q Brothers, Peter DiStefano & Tor, the Barton Hills Choir, and Quinn Sullivan, all making return appearances to the AKL stage. (Sullivan's performance may very well be the most crowded the stage gets all weekend.) So, in other words, while first-timers may find these performances worth sticking around for (and I think even I could be tempted to see the Barton Hills Choir), should we make the trip down to Austin again, I think it'll be an opportunity to broaden some of the kids' musical horizons... time to camp out in the gospel tent or catch Abigail Washburn.
With Lollapalooza celebrating its 20th anniversary in Chicago this year (August 5-7 in Grant Park), Kidzapalooza celebrated in a very special way: By releasing its performer lineup before the Austin City Limits/Austin Kiddie Limits announcement for a festival that's usually about 2 months after Lolla. Some of the lineup had been previously leaked, but the big five are: Keller Williams Haley Bonar Ralph's World Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could Big Bang Boom In addition to these bands, the lineup also includes the Q Brothers (there every year performing and doing rap/beatbox workshops with the kids), Peter DiStefano and Tor (there every year), and Northbrook Garage, Kate Diaz, and the Happiness Club, all youth performers. (And here's something to think -- it's a nice feather in a cap for an established musician to be able to say they played Lolla, but can you imagine what it's like for a Chicago-area teenager?) That's a solid lineup right there once again. Anyway, if you want to see the lineup announced by Kidzapalooza co-founder Tor Hyams' kids, here's a YouTube video for ya. Tor's son looks so much like Tor it's scary. Except for the glasses.
First an adorable video, now Brady Rymer is offering a free song featuring a duet with Laurie Berkner. The song is called "Soft Things" -- besides it being a pleasant, mellow tune, it deploys one of the most under-appreciated instruments in kindie music, and that's Berkner's sweet, clear voice. It's from Rymer's forthcoming album Love Me for Who I Am, due out April 12. Download it below for the price of an e-mail. (Which, it should be noted, goes off to Brady, not me, in case you were wondering.)
I see a lot of stuff. I don't always have time for a separate post. Here, then, is a collection of random pieces of information -- videos, downloads, news -- that never made it into its own neatly-titled post. -- Aaron Nigel Smith is offering up a free mp3 of his song "In a Book," a slow reggae jam not featured on his forthcoming Let's Pretend album. Pick it up here. -- I'd read somewhere -- probably a comment on its Facebook page -- that there was going to be a Kidzapalooza in Chile this year. That struck me as odd, but sure enough, yes, there is. April 2nd and 3rd, while Lollapalooza entertains a whole bunch of folks in Santiago, acts such as Achú, Cuchara, Fractal + Joe Vanconcellos, Los Pulentos, Los Plumabits, and Magictwins will be rocking the Kidza stage (though in the case of the Magictwins, I'm not sure "rock" is the word, even though they rock... magically). Kidzapalooza co-founder Tor Hyams reports he is indeed making the trek down to South America to produce the stage, a trek which makes the cross-country flights folks like Hyams and myself will make for Kindiefest seem like small potatoes. And, Tor, please see what you can do about bringing Los Plumabits -- featured on a Chilean kids' TV show which seems to be somewhat analagous to Yo Gabba Gabba! -- to the States. Los Plumabits - "Disco Laser" [YouTube] More -- much more -- after the jump.
Brady Rymer's forthcoming April 12th album Love Me For Who I Am comes with a trainload of back story. Rymer's new video for the title track just comes with a trainload of kids. It's lots of fun, and enjoyable regardless of whether you know the back story (which you can read about just by going to Rymer's site). The video is below; after the jump, you can stream the entire album. Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could - "Love Me For Who I Am" [YouTube]