Intro to Kindie: Rebecca Yorn Alison

Rebecca Yorn Allison

Rebecca Yorn Allison

One of the appealing features of the kids music world is what I've found to be a relative openness to new voices.  That concept applies to musicians, of course, but also to those of us who interact with musicians, be it technicians, concert folks, or writers.

A somewhat newer voice in the kids music world is Rebecca Yorn Alison.  She jumped into the kids music world more than four years as the founder of the kids music website Kids Can Groove.  More recently, she's started booking shows for some of her favorite kindie bands as Little Cloud Management.

But like many people who find themselves drawn into a musical genre whose popularity hasn't fully reached the mainstream (we're trying!), she's first and foremost a fan.  So I thought she'd provide another good perspective in our ongoing Intro to Kindie series in which folks provide a list of songs that introduce kids music to people who are unfamiliar with the genre.  The list (and Spotify playlist) she provides tends toward the new (that They Might Be Giants isn't even formally released until later this week), but, as I said... new voices!

I love to “talk” music and was so excited when Stefan asked me to share my Intro to Kindie Music story.

My foray into kids’ music happened when my daughter Emily was just a year old. At the time, we had a fairly traditional family music collection: a few nursery rhymes, Raffi and Sesame Street. They were the sweet background of our early days as parents, but we were in need of a little variety.

Then my husband discovered two albums: Here Come the ABCs by They Might Be Giants and Kidzapalooza Vol.1. Skeptically, I gave each one a listen. I couldn’t believe it was “kids’ music.” These bands that play music for adults were engaging in linguistic experimentation, channeling their creativity into meaningful lyrics for kids. The compositions had an adult style and appealed to our daughter. It was not at all what I thought kids’ music was “supposed” to sound like. I was truly floored! 

We stumbled upon the indie pop melodies of Lunch Money, lyrical hip hop mastery of Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and pop-punk-rock of The Not-Its! I started searching for kids’ Indie music (before I knew that it was fashionably called “Kindie”). We found the electro-pop of The Pop Ups, and mealtime was happier when Ralph's World came on. The sweet, hip folk sounds of Elizabeth Mitchell filtered in followed by The Okee Dokee Brothers’ bluegrass odyssey. Our music collection just kept growing!

I felt like I’d struck gold and had to share my treasure. But when I started talking to other parents about what they were listening to, I got a lot of bewildered faces and some eye rolls. More than once, I was asked, "Yeah, but is the music any good?" 

That’s when I launched Kids Can Groove, a blog that introduces new music to other music lovers who have kids. I immersed myself in this genre by hosting my own concerts and starting a booking agency called Little Cloud Management.

Over the past 6 years, I’ve seen music serve an important purpose in Emily’s life, as it has for me. She’s become emboldened in her own creativity and more confident in herself. Her fears have been quelled and friendships made stronger. Her imagination has been ignited and expanded, and she has learned about all kinds of subjects even before entering school. And none of the quality has been forfeited. Though we have always exposed Emily to music in both adult and kids’ genres, I like the peace of mind that comes when spinning a CD or downloading a playlist geared towards families. I don’t run the risk of realizing a little too late that "Kitty" by the Presidents of the United States of America is definitely not as innocent as it sounds (nor as I remember it being). That actually happened!

The world can be big and confusing and scary for kids as they try to navigate through developmental changes and social-emotional challenges. (I feel the same way as an adult!) Music specifically geared toward kids, offers an understanding through language that is spoken in just the right amount of words, syllables and images. 

My Intro to Kindie list includes songs that encompass these qualities. You’ll also find songs that initially got us hooked, and newer ones that continue to provide endless hours of purpose and entertainment. Creating a final playlist for this process was way more painful than I initially imagined. In addition to listing songs that have been family repeats, I chose to sprinkle in a few bilingual songs as they have also made their mark in our music collection. 

Freeze Tag - The Not-Its!

Ladybug - Frances England

It Makes You Feel Good - Renee & Jeremy

A Cookie As Big As My Head - Lunch Money

Q and U - The Bazillions

Omnicorn - They Might Be Giants

Pockets Full of Joy - Lucy Kalantari

Hold On To Your Dreams - MIsta Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips

L-O-V-E - Josh and the Jamtones

Nightlight - Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

H2O - Moona Luna

Vroom - Todd McHatton

A Frog Named Sam - Ben Rudnick and Friends

Red Fox - Pointed Man Band

Spiders Under My House - The Jellydots

Bill - Ratboy Jr.

Wisconsin Poncho - Gustafer Yellowgold

Rainbow - Wunmi

Tickle Monster - Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys

Mr. & Mrs. Sippy - The Okee Dokee Brothers

Sally, Can I walk You Home? - Robbie Schaefer

The Shark Fighter- The Aquabats!

It’s All How You Look At It - Brady Rymer

Tres Ratones - Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band 

My Dog Steve - The Hipwaders

Food Calculator - Alphabet Rockers

Forever Young - Andrew & Polly

Poong Nyun Ga - Elena Moon Park

Intro to Kindie: Stephanie Mayers

Stephanie Mayers

Stephanie Mayers

Stephanie Mayers has been behind the scenes of many of kindie's most influential people and places for more than a decade: World Cafe Live's Peanut Butter & Jams (one of the very first kindie concert series), Putumayo Kids, Dan Zanes, Kindiefest (to name the big ones).  In short, Mayers herself has been one of kindie's most influential people for more than a decade.

And now she's continuing that work with the recent creation of Mayers Consulting, a marketing and promotion firm focused on kids music and folks in that orbit.

It's in the spirit of those years of discovery that Mayers offers up her "Intro to Kindie," a list of songs introducing kids music to a newcomer to the genre.

Mayers Consulting logo

Mayers Consulting logo

When asked to put together my “intro to kindie” I decided to go about it by following my own personal kindie path. I began discovering this music 10+ years ago when I was booking for the Peanut Butter & Jams series in Philadelphia -- there I realized [there was] this exciting and refreshing budding genre and all that was starting to be.

This is a playlist of my own discovery from Philly at World Cafe Live to New York with Putumayo Kids, to working with independent artists, Kindiefest, the Dan Zanes universe and beyond. Songs from artists I was working with, songs I discovered from being a part of the community and songs that have played a part in raising my own family. This list is an abridged, incomplete, diverse collection but somewhat representative of how I’ve seen kindie.

  1. All Around the Kitchen- DAN ZANES
  2. I’m From the Sun- GUSTAFER YELLOWGOLD
  3. I Found It- BRADY RYMER
  4. Pink Piggie Polka Pancake Picnic- ERNIE & NEAL
  5. Hope My Mama Says Yes- AUDRAROX
  6. Bounce- ELLEN AND MATT
  8. Bed Head- THE JIMMIES
  9. Polar Bear- THE QUIET TWO
  10. No More Monkeys- ASHEBA
  11. LadyBug -TERRIBLE TWOS
  12. Sometimes- FRANCES ENGLAND
  13. Pancakes- BEARS AND LIONS
  15. Hey Sister- WALTER MARTIN
  16. Folsom Preschool Blues- OPUS DITTY
  17. So Glad I’m Here- ELIZABETH MITCHELL
  18. Gotta Be Me- SECRET AGENT 23 SKIDOO
  19. Bowl of Cherries - Rhythm Child
  20. I’m a Pirate- Rhymezwell

Intro to Kindie: Laurie Berkner

Laurie Berkner, photo by Jayme Thornton

Laurie Berkner, photo by Jayme Thornton

In my Intro to Kindie series, I've focused thus far on people who've had the opportunity to listen to thousands (if not tens of thousands) of kids music songs to try to select the twenty or so songs that would serve as a good introduction to kids music for the 21st century listener.

That's meant that my respondents thus far (and in the future) have not been musicians, but radio folks and others who've made it their job or hobby to listen to 250 or more albums per year.

But there are a handful of musicians I'm planning to feature here, musicians whose appreciation of the history and modern context of kids music rivals (or supersedes) that of folks like me.

Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs album cover

Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs album cover

So I'm tickled pink to have kids music superstar Laurie Berkner be the first musician to offer her own list of twenty songs to introduce to the kids' music newbie.  Berkner's on a roll at the momeny -- just this week, for example, Simon & Schuster announced that they'd be publishing three picture books in 2017 and 2018 -- but most importantly for the purposes of this particular exercise, her latest album, Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs, is set for release next week.  It's a 2-CD, 57-track (!) set that features 51 traditional children's songs plus six "bonus" tracks of Berkner's own songs that could easily join those traditional songs.

I love all these lists, and Berkner's is no exception, with a wonderful introduction kicking things off.

For me, the songs that really represent an artist or a genre are the ones that move me. They might make my body move, move me to laughter or move me to tears, but they affect me deeply in some way.  All of the songs that I've chosen as an introduction to kids' music have some element that I think is moving, as well as being representative of the ever-expanding world of kids' music.  Some of these songs are for very young children, some are for kids already in school, some are more for the parents, but to me most of them have a lovely sense of something joyful or beautiful, and often it's from the child's perspective. 

It goes without saying that there are now so many wonderful musicians making great music for families that it would have been impossible to put them all on this list.  Instead I just tried to include a sampling of music more recently written along with music that has stood the test of time.  "Sammy" by Hap Palmer is an exquisitely written song that made me cry as a kid, with a message that I still appreciate as an adult.  "I am a Paleontologist" is only one amazing song of many by They Might Be Giants.  I happen to think this one is genius in the way it combines content that is truly of interest to kids with a super catchy chorus and a sound that hints enough at crunchy guitar rock to tickle parents.

Brady Rymer's "Jump Up (It's a Good Day)" is a song that really moves me to jump and just makes me feel happy every time I hear it.  I only included one song from a musical because I think that music is easier to discover without much research, but I think that many amazing kids' songs come from that genre (I could do an entire list made up of songs exclusively performed by Julie Andrews). I also couldn't help myself, but as a bonus 21st track, I included Paul Simon's "St. Judy's Comet" because even though he didn't put it on a kids' album, Simon wrote it for his own son.  I sang it to my daughter for years, and I think it's one of those songs that takes on deep meaning only once you become a parent.  

Here are my 20 (OK, 21) bits of kids' music pleasure, in no particular order.  Enjoy!

"Jump Up (It's a Good Day)" - Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could

"Roller Coaster" - Kira Willey 

"Pop Fly"- Justin Roberts

"Spoonful of Sugar" - from Mary Poppins

"I am a Paleontologist" - They Might Be Giants (with Danny Weinkauf)

"Family Time" - Ziggy Marley

"Daddy-O" - Frances England

"Sammy" - Hap Palmer

"Glad To Have A Friend Like You" - Free To Be You And Me/Marlo Thomas and Friends

"Go Down Emmanuel Road" - Dan Zanes

"Good Morning My Love" - Vered

"The Garden Song" - Arlo Guthrie

"Upside Down" - Jack Johnson

"John The Rabbit"  - Elizabeth Mitchell

 "All These Shapes" - The Pop-Ups

"Music Everywhere" - The Dirty Sock Funtime Band

"Fly Birdy Fly" - Choo Choo Soul

"Walking With Spring" - The Okee Dokee Brothers

"The Marvelous Toy" - Tom Paxton

"Suppertime" - The Verve Pipe

"St. Judy's Comet" - Paul Simon

Photo credit: Jayme Thornton

Intro to Kindie: Amberly Warnke (Ages 3 and Up!)


Yay, it's another entry in our Intro to Kindie series! It's America's favorite series for discussing how kindie folk would spend an hour or so introducing kids music to someone new to the concept.  Today, it's Amberly Warnke's turn.

For about ten years, Amberly has been playing music for families and kids on her show, Ages 3 and Up!.  (Note: as far as I know, listeners under 3 are totally welcome.)  The show airs 9 'til 10 AM on Saturday mornings on WRFL 88.1 FM in Lexington, Kentucky.

Without, then, any further ado, Amberly's 20 songs...

Lori Henriques - “How Great Can This Day Be” - How Great Can This Day Be 

Future Hits - “This Past Sunny Weekend” - Today is Forever 

Frances England - “Up A Tree” - Family Tree 

Gustafer Yellowgold - “Getting In A Treetop” - Mellow Fever

Dog on Fleas - “Beautiful World” - Beautiful World 

Caspar Babypants - “Tiger Through The Trees” - This Is Fun! 

Ages 3 and Up logo

Ages 3 and Up logo

Brian Vogan and His Good Buddies - “How To Fly” - Sing A Little Song

Todd McHatton - “Green Eleven” - Sundays At The Rocket Park

Charlie Hope - “One That I Love” - Songs, Stories and Friends:  Let’s Go Play!

Kira Willey - “Caterpillar Caterpillar” - Dance For The Sun:  Yoga Songs for Kids

Medeski Martin & Wood - “Pat A Cake” - Let’s Go Everywhere

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Family - “Go Waggaloo” - Go Waggaloo

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - “Luck” - Easy

Me3 - “Come On” - The Thin King

The Pop Ups - “Big Wheel” - Outside Voices

Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke - “Going To The Moon” - Rise and Shine

Justin Roberts - “No Matter How Far” - Lullaby

The Harmonica Pocket - “Bumblebee Lullaby” - Ladybug One 

John Upchurch and Mark Greenberg - “Hum Drum Bumblebee” - John and Mark’s Children’s Record 

Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower - “I Wish You Well” - Blue Clouds



Intro to Kindie: Dave Loftin (Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl)

Dave Loftin and kids

Dave Loftin and kids

Continuing our Intro to Kindie series -- the fact that there's a second entry makes it a series, right? -- this week I've got a list from Chattanooga's Dave Loftin that outlines how he'd spend an hour introducing kids music to someone new to the concept. 

For more than 9 years, Dave has been spinning music for kids and families on his show, the Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl.  The show airs 8 'til 10 AM on (what else?) Saturday mornings, streamed on out of Chattanooga.

When he sent me the list, he took the "one hour" concept seriously -- he says it's timed out at 59 minutes and 57 seconds.  That doesn't leave a lot of time for intros, bumpers, or chatter, but it does leave a lot of time for some great music.

My first thought about coming up with a “Kindie 101” of sorts was, “Awesome! This will be great.” Then I quickly realized, after being waist-deep in this genre for nine and half years, "this is going to be a lot more challenging than I thought." I’ve been exposed to so much talent over these years and trying to think back to my first kindie discoveries and the elation that accompanied those experiences might prove a challenge.

This list is not a best-of list (because that would just be cruel of Stefan to ask) but rather these are the artists that stood out to me when I first heard them. They all had and have something that can make naysayers of kids’ music rethink what they believe they know of the genre.

This is laid out as a mixtape. There’s no order of importance and it’s not a top 20 list, but it’s made to flow. Not too different than how I program the show. Just like the tapes some of us poured so many hours into getting just right.

Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl logo

Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl logo

So here it is. Your SMCB Mixtape:

Side A

Lucky Diaz - “Blue Bear” [Luckiest Adventures]

Mr. David - “Jumpy in the Jumpy House” [Jump in the Jumpy House]       

Frances England - “Place in Your Heart” [Mind of My Own]

Caspar Babypants - “$9.99” [More Please!]

Alex Volz - “Tommy the Talking Taco” [Awesome Songs For Cool Kids]

Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke - “Big Pet Pig” [Rise and Shine]

Gustfer Yellowgold - “I’m From the Sun” [Wide Wild World]

The Okee Dokee Brothers - “Can You Canoe?” [Can You Canoe?]

Trout Fishing in America - “It’s Better Than That” [Infinity]

Randy Kaplan - “Don’t You Leave Me Here” [The Kids Are All ID]

WAWL logo

WAWL logo

Side B

Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips - “Gratitude”

Shine & the Moonbeams - “Bully Bully” [Shine & the Moonbeams]

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - “Pillowfort Pillowfight” [The Perfect Quirk]

The Pop Ups - “Box of Crayons” [Radio Jungle]

Renee & Jeremy - “Watch Where You’re Goin’” [C’mon]

Ratboy Jr. - “High 5 Your Shadow” [Champions of the Universe]

Recess Monkey - “Knocktopus” [Field Trip]

Egg - “What’s Inside” [Sunny Side Up]

Charlie Hope - “Train Song” [It’s Me!]

Lunch Money - “Time Out” [Spicy Kid]