There are two reasons why I wanted to highlight a recent article from Seattle Met magazine. One is pure, selfish, hey, lookit me! Quoted in print. Yeah, yeah, whatever, you don't care about that. More importantly than that little bit of vanity is the fact that the Kindiependent collective in Seattle, beyond the energy and coordination benefits it provides to its members, merely by existing provides another hook for someone to write about them. And the article itself goes a little deeper (or at least gives more details about the individual artists) than the typical "they make music for kids?!?" article. Worth a read if you're not familiar with the Seattle kindie scene (which really is awesome), or even if you are and think that your own area might merit similar coverage -- check it out here.
For the most part, my look back at the best kids and family music of 2010 has focused on specific albums or songs. This list features five ideas (or, and I hate to use this journalistic trope, "trends") that signifiy where kids music might be headed in the decade to come. That's not to say that the specific albums and artists I'm mentioning here aren't worthy of celebrations themselves (many of them are already part of the "Best of 2010" package), just their mere existence is kind of a big deal, the kind of deal that might just lead you to say a few years from now, "I remember when I read about it on.... what was the name of that blog again?..." iScream for New Things: Readeez creator Michael Rachap's latest creation is the Readeez Folderfuls, which are single-subject collections of somewhat academically-minded topics. (The first is titled "Money Math" and deals with counting types of money.) I'm geeked about this not necessarily because the songs and videos are good (though they are), but because the potential for providing family-friendly content via this medium is huge, mostly due to a little product that begins with an "i" and ends with a "Pad." I think it would need a little more integration, and a lot of artists would need to invest a lot more effort (or cash) to come up with offerings as slickly designed as Rachap's. But I think an artist that figures out a useful $10 app could have a successful product on their hands. (And, yes, Michael, I was thinking about this quite a bit.) Banding Together (Thinking Globally): Many words have been written about Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti, the Haitian relief album put together by Dean Jones and Bill Childs. Most of those words have been written about the music (excellent) and the cause (worthy). Fewer words have been written about the album's underpinning -- it is the first benefit album originating directly out of the family music genre. Other kids' music benefit albums have consisted mostly of "adult" artists recording songs for a family audience. Prior seeds planted by events such as Kindiefest or websites such as Sprockster (plus longer-established entities such as the Children's Music Network) are finally -- slowly -- flowering into a recognition that everyone's success is hinged, at least in part, upon elevating the genre's overall visibility. And albums like Health Food for Thought, on which children's musicians are the majority of the artists, suggest that Many Hands is merely the first of many.
Kindiependent continue to kick out the kids' themed supergroup jams. First it was "Vagabond Worms", and now it's "Kids' Table!," featuring Recess Monkey, Johnny Bregar, and Keeth Apgar from The Harmonica Pocket. Banjos, keyboards, trading verses, and a funny punch line. Apropos if you (like me) are starting to plan a big Thanksgiving get-together. Download the song at the Kindiependent home page. (Link to the video after the jump.)
Another Ketchup Report, slathering kids music news all across the internet with all-natural ingredients. -- Bill Harley channels a little Dylan and Guthrie on his song "Enough Is a Feast," which he's now offering as a free download here through Thanksgiving. (If you want to contribute to or volunteer at a food bank at this time of year when food is maybe even more important than it usually is, Harley suggests finding one here.) -- I'm a longtime fan of the Tricycle Music Fest, even after its cross-country move to San Francisco. Check out the videos from last month's edition here, including "Tricycle," of course, from Frances England and other videos from Charity Kahn and the Time Outs. -- Twin Cities folks, heads up, Clementown, the Okee Dokee Brothers, and Adam Levy are playing a benefit show on Saturday, December 4 for friends of Clementown's, Krista and Terry, who've both been diagnosed with cancer. Great lineup, good cause. More details here. -- I'm also a fan of the "Listen To Your Buds" campaign encouraging kids not to turn up their speakers (or headphones) to 11. This fall's performers? Oran Etkin, who's performing in Philadelphia public schools this week and Brady Rymer. -- Gustafer Yellowgold, back on (off-)Broadway! Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock will have a run of Saturday performances (11 AM and 1 PM) at the DR2 Theatre, 103 E. 15th St. New York City, from February 26 through April 2. It apparently will include the song "Wisconsin Poncho," which is "set in an all-cheese clothing store." This, friends, is why I love kids music. -- The Kindiependent concert at the Seattle Public Library some of you may have heard about? 1,500 people, folks. Strength in numbers, that's what it's about. The group's got a couple new concert series coming up in the Seattle area starting this fall, too...
Attention rest of the country, Seattle's Kindiependent collective has just raised the bar again. I'd heard that Caspar Babypants, Recess Monkey, and the Harmonica Pocket jammed one recent Sunday. The result - "Vagabond Worms" - is even better than I anticipated. Update: Download the track at the Kindiependent website! Caspar Babypants, Recess Monkey, The Harmonica Pocket - "Vagabond Worms" [YouTube]
At Kindiefest a couple weeks ago, one of the few sustained conversations I had was with the guys from Recess Monkey. We talked about how the key with the kids music genre is the continued sharing -- rather than fighting over limited pieces of a pie, try to make that pie bigger so everybody gets more. Especially if it's pecan pie. Mmm, I love me some pecan pie. But I digress. Anyway, the guys in the band said they'd been working with some of the other Seattle kids music bands to try to cross-promote their shows and music, but they didn't reveal their secret weapon, which is the most awesome name: Kindiependent, which almost makes me like the whole "kindie" name which I've never fully been able to embrace. It's a Seattle kids music collective featuring Recess Monkey, Caspar Babypants, The Not-Its, Johnny Bregar, and the Central Services Board of Education. Check out the cool poster art from Kate Endle (Chris Ballew's wife, who's also done both Caspar Babypants covers) -- with help from Johnny Bregar and Jack Forman -- for a show on June 13th. It's the record release party for RM's The Final Funktier -- apparently it's going to be one seamless set where each band's set overlaps with the one preceeding it. So, yeah, Seattle's totally going all for one, one for all, 5 Musketeers-style. (And maybe more, once other Seattle folks get the word.) Other areas might be thinking the same thing, but Seattle's taken the visible step. And secured the website.