There's lots of video from last weekend's Lollapalooza floating around, even some from the Kidzapalooza stage. And maybe I'll get around to more of it, but for now I just want to share a couple Haley Bonar performances because, well, I think she's the bees' knees. I'm trusting this isn't the last time we'll hear family music from Bonar... Haley Bonar - "Sing With Me" (Live at Lollapalooza 2011)  Bonus swingin' video from Bonar after the jump...
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.
Haley Bonar's late 2009 kids' EP Sing With Me was one of the most surprising and gratifying (and too brief) releases of the year, heartfelt and featuring Bonar's clear and beautiful voice. It's a combination that worked just as well on her most recent album for adults, 2008's Big Star. I'm always interested in getting a wide range of perspectives on the family music scene, from those who have been in it for many years to those who've only peered in the window just a little bit. I also like talking with cool musicians. So this interview meets both those standards. Bonar talked with me a couple weeks ago as she was on the road, moving back to Minneapolis from Portland, Oregon, sharing with me musical stories of growing up, life sharing music as a nanny, and the beauty of awkward dancing. Zooglobble: What are your musical memories growing up? Haley Bonar: I conducted a lot of plays. We had a Schoenhut piano. I would make my mom play while I danced in a circle. We weren't super-musical, but we listened to it a lot. I never shut up. When did you decide to become a musician, to make it a career? Hmmm.... I didn't really know that it was a real career. A career means making money and I don't make money. Of course, now I'm super-rich [chuckles]. No, there wasn't a single defining moment. You worked as a nanny -- how would you work music into your daily life?
I swooned over Sing With Me, the kids' EP from Haley Bonar, but a downside of that particular review is that there aren't any sound clips. So I thought I'd close out this Friday by sharing this video of "Beautiful You," recorded by a Duluth radio station when Bonar stopped by to play a few of her tunes. Aside from the inability of Bonar to sing harmony with herself live (as she does on record), it sounds a lot like the album version. That is to say, beautiful. Haley Bonar - "Beautiful You" (Live) [Vimeo]
One of the most welcome trends of the past decade, kids music-wise, is that artists who spend most of their time making music for adults don't have a problem occasionally making music for kids, joining the lucky group of folks for whom making music for families is a full-time gig. Often these albums appear at the midpoint of an artist's career -- think of They Might Be Giants, or Barenaked Ladies, or The Verve Pipe -- well after they've established themselves. But I think we've gotten to the point where up-and-coming artists -- potential Next Big Things -- feel like recording family music is a perfectly acceptable detour along the way. Ten years ago, would Haley Bonar have released her 5-song EP Sing With Me? Probably not. Which would've been a shame, because this is a beautiful 16 minutes of music. Bonar, a singer-songwriter from the Upper Midwest who now calls Portland, Oregon her home, has a sweet voice ever so slightly ragged around the edges. On Sing With Me, she uses that voice to good effect on songs like the album "Beautiful You," which fairly aches with joy. Lyrics like "Beautiful / Everyone is beautiful / And I think you're beautiful, too" might sound trite in the hands of lesser artists, but in Bonar's sparse arrangement becomes a thing of beauty. It's basically a muted version of "What a Wonderful World." That's followed up by the title track, which in its brazen exhortation to sing and use of the major scale in the chorus is a 21st century version of "Do Re Mi." Those two songs, the album's best, are followed by "I Wanna Be Like You," of which Bonar's mellow take may not interest too many kids. The slow waltz "For Sister" is a little bit like Dar Williams' "The Babysitter's Here" in that it's a celebration of love for a little sister that may be best understood by the adults listening, but isn't outside the comprehension level of a kindergartner (who might be close to the experience). The EP finishes up with "If I Had A Rainbow," which features lines such as "If I had a rainbow / that'd follow me wherever I'd go / Everybody'd like me / Because I'd be so colorful." It's a cheery way to end the album. The 16-minute album will be most enjoyed by kids ages 3 through 7. For the moment, you can only purchase the album at Bonar's store. I know that Bonar's on the way up in the world, and we're not likely to get another family album from her anytime soon. That's a shame, because I'm really taken by Sing With Me and I think you'll be, too. Good songwriting is always appreciated, regardless of whether you're 3 or 33. Definitely recommended.