Kindiefest 2011: Artists' Showcase in Video and Pictures

Be it SXSW or Kindiefest, there are different reasons to see an artists' showcase at a music conference. You can see your favorite bands, or perhaps bands you're familiar with but are curious to see and hear them live. And sometimes you stumble upon a new favorite. The Kindiefest 2011 artists' showcase on Saturday night was for me a combination of all three, which suggests how well the lineup was put together. Now, I should note that though the lineup featured several artists I'd consider my favorites, I'd never actually seen any of them perform live. (That would have to wait for Sunday's public performance, for whom I'd seen half the lineup live.) But as someone who puts together shows here in the Phoenix area, that live aspect is important to me. This summary is long, but I encourage you to skim the entire thing, you never know when you'll find your new favorite artist. IMG_5210.jpgThe lineup kicked off with Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs, faced with the unenviable task of starting the show while everybody filed back from dinner or a run to their hotel rooms. That and selecting from a bunch of great songs. They went meta ("This Is The First Song" -- they should close with that one day), sweet ("Family Garden"), doubly sweet ("Pen Pal," duetting with Lunch Money's Molly Ledford), and classic ("The Legend of Johnny Box"). The last song featured none other than Johnny Box himself, played by... well, let's just say by someone very familiar to Zooglobble readers. Good stuff. IMG_5216.jpgFrom there it was on to The Pop Ups, whose set was basically a very abbreviated version of their PASTA! musical. Were there puppets? Yes! Were there apes in capes? Yes! Was there lots of hand-clapping? Yes! Was there lots of pasta? Well, you'll just have to see the musical for yourself to see the answer. But it's hard not to see how the musical would be very popular with the 5-year-old set. The Pop Ups - "Pasta" [YouTube] But we were just getting started, with six more artists to go...

Review: "High Five" - Candy Band

HighFive.jpgThe problem with "subgenre" albums in kids music is they sometimes become jokes. "Hey, everyone, wouldn't it be funny if we did "Wheels on the Bus" reggae style? Or "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in polynesian tiki music?" And, yeah, maybe it's funny at first, but it gets old. And even if it's not meant to be funny, at some point the subgenre needs to move forward, to write songs that honor where they're coming from but at the same time are very much for kids. After all, those toddlers and preschoolers eventually hit grade school, where "Wheels on the Bus" is, well, not appreciated in any style. Detroit's Candy Band, four moms who play punk and rock for kids, have done reasonably well in avoiding the turning punk rock for kids into a joke. (They, along with Jam Toast and, especially, the Boogers, do yeoman's work in that regard.) They've just released their fifth and latest album, High Five. Don't be afraid of the "punk" label -- from the get-go, this is a high-energy, high-fun album that's accessible to any family not afraid to rock a little. (I'm not a huge punk rock fan, and I dig this a bunch.) "Cookie Jar" gives the "who stole the cookie from the cookie jar" song a energetic stomp; that's followed by the irresistible original "I'm a Monkey," guaranteed to have your kids (and maybe even you) bouncing around the room making monkey noises on the chorus. I know that some of my appreciation of the music is because of the musical shout-outs the band tosses to the adults listening along. "It's Raining Green" is a pitch perfect melding of Green Day's "Brain Stew" and "It's Raining, It's Pouring," while "Ice Cream" throws in the title snippet of Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough." But sometimes it's those little things (and they're always pretty little) that mean the difference between cursing at and humming along with the disk if your kid gets attached to it. Also, it takes confidence to pull off a version of "Ode to Joy" on a punk album -- it works out pretty well, as it turns out. Kids ages 2 through 7 will most appreciate the music here -- they're also the most likely to bounce maniacally. You can listen to "Ice Cream" here, as well as buy the disk. High Five is Candy Band's best album and my new favorite punk rock album for kids. Definitely recommended. I was provided a copy of the disk by the band for possible review.

Review: Calling All Kids - CandyBand

CallingAllKids.jpgOne of the downsides to the recent increase in attention paid to kids' music -- what, there are downsides? -- is a proliferation of music that uses kids' songs as jokes, applying traditional songs to non-traditional song forms. The albums aren't so much for the kids as they are for the adults. CandyBand plays punk music for kids and their recently-released fourth album, Calling All Kids is a fine example of why this band rises above the kids-music-as-source-of-amusement genre to make kids' music worth listening to. To begin with, the Detroit-area band actually rocks. Paula Messner (or, er, "Almond Joy") has nifty guitar work throughout the album, particularly on songs like "Simon Says" and the "Eenie Meenie Song." And the rhythm section of Anita Kelly and Tammy Ristau, along with Daniela Burckhardt's vocals, are strong, too. None of which would matter if the songs weren't any fun or any good, but a lot of them are. For the most part, the band is writing its own songs at this point. While there might not be something as great previous CandyBand songs like "Ken Lost His Head" or "Get Up Already," families will definitely have fun with the bouncy "Octopus On My Head" (the chorus of "I've got an octopus on head / It's messing up my hair / It's sleeping in my ear / I've got an octopus on my head / And I hope it won't make breakfast of me" will live your head for a loooong time). "It's Your Birthday" is deservedly destined for many 5-year-old birthday party mix CDs. And the band re-records an older tune, "Monsters," except this time they go all "American Idiot" on us and add strings from the Detroit Symphony Civic Youth Ensembles. Kids ages 3 through 7 will probably enjoy the songs here the most. In true punk fashion, the album is brief, running through its 10 tracks in less than 22 minutes. You can hear the first couple tracks here. CandyBand is a great example of kids' artists who are melding their non-traditional kids' genres to kids' themes and songs in ways that respect kids while providing something for the parents to latch onto as well. If your family sits on the rock side of the pop-rock divide, you'll particularly enjoy Calling All Kids, but even if you don't have the complete Clash and Green Day discography, it's an album worth checking out. Recommended.