Christmas and Holiday Kids Music 2017

Every year when I put together these lists of Christmas and holiday-related kids music, I walk the fine line between trying get this up early enough to be of use and late enough to be of use.  What I mean by that is, if I publish on, say, November 28th, people complain it's too early and I'll have about 3 songs or albums from some very planning-oriented musicians.  And if I wait for December 23rd to make sure I get all the music included, everybody's just about sick of Christmas music and Hanukkah might already be done for.

So I'm trying to hit a sweet spot here.  I'll update it as necessary, but hopefully too many musicians aren't thinking, less than 2 weeks before Christmas, that maybe they should try to record something.

Holiday Kids Music Reviews (2012 Edition)

There were fewer Christmas and holiday CDs released this holiday season, but those that were all will probably appeal to at least a few families.  Yes, it's Christmas Eve, but you can still download those albums in time, right?  (And there's always 2013.)

Renee & Jeremy - Sunny Christmas

If I had to pick just one holiday album for this season, I think this EP from the Los Angeles duo would be it.  Perhaps that's a function of one too many Christmases in a clime that sometimes lets you wear short sleeves while eating your figgy pudding.  As always, the duo are in fine vocal form on the five standards ("Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is the standout) and one original, the title track.

The Laurie Berkner Band - A Laurie Berkner Christmas

Berkner offers up the most traditional-sounding album, with fine arrangements throughout.  Having said that, given how you may hear many of these tracks multiple times any particular December day, the two best tracks here are the less-familiar "Children Go Where I Send Thee," a duet with Brady Rymer, and "Silent Night," which features Berkner and Elizabeth Mitchell, the two best female voices in kids music.

Mr. Richard & the Pound Hounds - Merry Christmas!

Florida-based Mr. Richard has much to be thankful for this holiday season -- his family's been battling some medical issues this year -- so not surprisingly, his new extended EP is a bouncy one.  A mix of Christmas standards and originals, my favorites are the jangly original "Up In My Christmas Tree" and the album-closing instrumental "Cantique de Noel" (aka "O Holy Night").

The Jimmies - Mama Said Nog You Out

This album's a year old, but it's no longer a Barnes & Noble exclusive.  So that means you can stop by your local, er, Amazon or iTunes and pick up a copy of Ashley's take on the season.  (Hint: there's no rendition of "O Holy Night" on this album -- this album's for the folks who like the mad rush of December.)  I liked the album last year, and I still like it this year.

Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke - Sing Songs of Christmas Cheer

Speaking of 2011 albums, I realized shortly after I published those reviews last year that I'd inadvertently excluded the extended EP from one of my favorite kids' bands (I think the album came out fairly late in the cycle as well).  In any case, the album is as goofy (and hard-rockin') as the rest of the duo's work -- "Angels We Have Heard On High" is epic in every sense of the word.

Dan Zanes - Christmas in Concord

I should also note that Dan Zanes' 2011 holiday EP has been expanded into an extended EP.  He adds a couple songs -- an original ("I'm Counting the Days (Until Christmas)") and a traditional spiritual ("Rise Up Shepherd and Follow" with Suzan-Lori Parks).  Though both are note, if you got the EP last year, neither track is a required addition.  Having said that, it was my favorite holiday album of 2011 (probably tied with the Key Wilde disk, and edging out the Jimmies disk), so if you don't have it already, it's worth picking up.

Big Bang Boom - The Holidays Are Here

I had to ask the title to these 5 songs (hence my original title, "untitled Christmas album"), but it's pretty good nonetheless.  As you would expect from the band and their cheeky attitude (see: "Santa Didn't Come Last Night"), there's no reverent rendition of centuries-old hymns, but it's generally tender and nostalgic.



SpongeBob Squarepants - It's A SpongeBob Christmas Album

Yes.  SpongeBob Squarepants has a Christmas album.  (Why not?  Everybody else does.)  Here's the thing -- it's actually pretty good.  OK, the opening track sounds tacked on, but once you get past that, it's clear that more thought and care went into the album than was necessary.  Folks with no TVs (or senses of humor) won't appreciate it much, but it's more entertaining than I, not any big SpongeBob fan, expected.

Holiday Kids Music 2012 Roundup

You wouldn't know it by reading this space, but there's been some holiday kids music released this Christmas/Hanukkah/winter-holiday-of-your-choosing season.  Not as much as in years past, but enough stuff worth your time checking out (and my time writing up).

I'll be reviewing some albums in a subsequent post, but here are a few tracks to stuff in your kids' stockings.

Free Downloads

The Not-Its change gears and offer up a tender, acoustic... aw, who am I kidding?  There are loud guitars, natch.  It's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," not "Tip-Toein' Around the Christmas Tree." 

OK, for those of you who really did need a slower, wintry song, try Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band's "Snow Day."

Bari Koral offers up her take on the familiar gingerbread man tale with a zippy "Gingerbread Man."

Brady Rymer is spending his holiday season "Untanglin' the Christmas Lights," though the song seems way too happy for that frustration.  Available here for the price of an e-mail.


It's not quite a Christmas (or Hanukkah or even Halloween or Arbor Day) song, but it feels appropriate for the season.  SteveSongs gifts you "Our World" -- just click on this link to start the download process.


My favorite kindie Christmas song this year?  Groovy David's "Sorry Santa!" has a funky groove and horns.  Horns, people!  (Hanukkah 2013 is, like, only 11 months away, so save "The Great Dreidel Tournament" 'til then.)

Randy Kaplan delivers a nicely understated version of the classic "Frosty the Snowman."  With the harmonica, it's got a touch of Dylan.  (Again, Hannukah 2013 playlist early addition?  "Oh Hannukah")

Todd McHatton's Christmas Songs started out as a mini-EP, then over the years became a full EP, and now at 11 songs, I think it's graduated to full album status.  McHatton added another song this year, "I Think I'm a Christmas Bunny."  Download the whole thing for just $1.99, and as an extra stocking stuffer download "Ooh Shiny" (appropriate for a season of gifts and ornaments) for free.

Other Stuff

The great Gustafer Yellowgold (opening for The Polyphonic Spree's 10th Anniversary Holiday Extravaganza in six cities this holiday season) has been running videos from his Year in the Day DVD all year -- check out the ever-awesome "Fa and a La":

It's a little brief, but feel to check out the Spotify Holiday Kindie Playlist 2012 (or listen here in Spotify directly)


  • The Laurie Berkner Band – Children Go Where I Send Thee
  • Renee & Jeremy – Deck the Halls
  • Mr Richard and the Pound Hounds – Up in My Christmas Tree
  • The Jimmies – Mashamallow World
  • Key Wilde & Mr Clarke – Angels We Have Heard on High


Finally, it was a one-time-only download last year, but you can always stream Kris Kindie, a fun collection of holiday music curated by me in a mad rush last December.

Happy holidays, y'all!

Christmas Songs 2011, Part III

I think it's time to wrap up my Christmas/holiday song links for 2011 seeing as it's barely 48 hours until the celebrating starts. In case you missed any of it, here are links to: Christmas Songs 2011, Part 1 Christmas Songs 2011, Part 2 Christmas Albums 2011, Part 1 (Kids Music) Christmas Albums 2011, Part 2 (Non-Kids Music-Specific) Kris Kindie, the kids music Christmas benefit compilation Tips for caroling with kids And with that, let's get rolling. So, speaking of Kris Kindie, a couple of the tracks on the album are available elsewhere here on the Interwebs. HipwadersLive.jpgThe Hipwaders appeared on Northern California radio this morning, playing a couple tracks off their fun Kindie Christmas album. They played "Wake Up (It's a Christmas Surprise)" (yes, it's on Kris Kindie) live in-studio. Good to hear DJ back in the fold. (Listen to "Yes, It's Christmas" here.) Debbie and Friends also contributed a song to the compilation -- the new tune (and Spin Doctors-inspired) "Santa and Baby." No, she didn't create the video just for the compilation -- that would be a little much to ask for in just a week, but it's kinda cute anyway. Debbie and Friends - "Santa and Baby" [YouTube] Oh, you think we're done here?... we're busier than a shopping mall the last Saturday before Christmas.

Caroling Tips: Caroling with Kids

carols1-150.gifWith Christmas rapidly approaching, I thought I would share some tips for caroling. I actually wrote much of this just after the new year, but thought that tips on getting the most out of the caroling experience with kids wouldn't be of much use in January. (Music can be an important part of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and Valentine's Day, but caroling... not so much.) So read on for my tips on how you and your kids can get the most out of caroling without driving you (or your kid) crazy. I actually went caroling twice in December 2010, which proved useful as there were a number of things I learned the first time (on a Sunday morning with a church group at a nursing home) that I used the second time (on a Monday night with friends from our -- and in our -- neighborhood). It wasn't the first time I'd gone caroling -- I'd also organized our prior neighborhood caroling event a couple years ago -- but I paid much closer attention to what seemed to work well. 1) It helps to have a single sheet. Books of carols are nice, but it takes too long to find the carol you actually want to sing. That's why my carol sheet (see below) is two pages, which can be copied back-to-back on a single sheet of paper. You obviously still need to find the carols, but it's much easier scanning a single page or two. 2) You need to have (at least some) songs preschoolers can sing. This is assuming, of course, that preschoolers are part of the mix (although it can be argued that simplicity is essential, and it's not that bad of an idea to stick to the simplest of carols). That fancy carol sheet is of little use (beyond that of pride) to the preschooler who can barely recognize their own name let alone the second verse of "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Songs I'd include in this category include "Jingle Bells" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," though I'd note that even more complex carols like "Deck the Halls" offer opportunities for the youngsters (kids pick up the "Fa la la la la..." part pretty quick). 3) Have a variety, but not too much so. You need to have a variety of songs so you're not singing the same three songs at every stop. Having said that, there is some value in everyone singing the songs 2 or 3 times during the caroling session so they actually master it, and if you have 30 songs (many of which will be unfamiliar to many of the carolers), you're not going to get that value. Also, you need to include a preschooler-friendly song (see above) at every stop.

Announcing Kris Kindie: Christmas Music for Kids and Families

kris kindie cover art.pngIt all started innocently enough -- someone makes a comment on Facebook about how there should totally be a kids' music Christmas compilation album. For charity, maybe. (Note: I cannot vouch for the veracity of the word "totally" in there.) Then somebody (I'm lookin' at you, Jeff) suggests that I should head up the effort. Next thing I know I'm downloading WAV files and uploading them to Bandcamp and pondering tracklist order. So, today, less than one full week after the original suggestion, I'm happy to present Kris Kindie, a collection of 27 Christmas- and holiday-themed tracks from 27 different kids' musicians. In this case, I don't feel like I'm a producer (though I'll call myself that) as much as I am a coordinator -- folks sent me tracks, and I put 'em together in a handy single format. (And got Jeff to do the album art.) Some were recorded especially for this compilation, some are new, some are old, some are reverent, and some are... less so. But I'm pretty sure that most folks will be able to find at least 5 tracks they like, which is great, because for just $5, not only do you get those 5 tracks (and the other 22), you know that all the net proceeds (which are all purchases minus Bandcamp and PayPal processing fees) will go to KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to creating "great playspaces through the participation and leadership of communities" and, eventually, "a place to play within walking distance of every child in America." Thanks to Jeff, Bill, Gwyneth, and Deb, who helped out, and most of all, thanks to the musicians who contributed. Listen below, and if you like it, I hope you'll consider purchasing the download.