The Ketchup Report, Vol. 5

Back with another list of random notes from around the kids music world... -- I'm a fan of Symphony Space's Just Kidding series, even 3,000 miles away, but I don't typically talk about single shows in that or any series. Having said that, I have it on good authority that Elizabeth Mitchell is planning on attending the Lunch Money Just Kidding concert on Saturday, January 29 (at 11 AM) and make a "guest appearance" for some songs. NYC fans, I expect you to be there -- not to be missed, I'm telling you. -- Continuing in the category of single shows meriting mention, if you're not tired out after the Lunch Money show (or if you're busy that morning), there's another show in NYC that afternoon. It's an event called "KIDS ROCK!" -- it's a big 'ol benefit concert for KIDS NEED A MELODY, which provides developmental music classes to young children living in the shelter system. It's also Saturday the 29th (from 1 to 4 PM) at Crash Mansion in the Bowery in NYC. It's hosted by Bob McGrath and will feature performances by Rebecca Frezza and Big Truck, Suzi Shelton with guitarist Steve Elliot, Jeremy Plays Guitar, The Fuzzy Lemons, Joanie Leeds, and Baze and His Silly Friends. Not bad, eh? -- Moving out of the city (sort of), word from Florida's Mr. Richard that he's leading David Weinstone's Music For Aardvarks classes in Orlando. Mr. Richard isn't the first kindie musicians with his own career to participate in these types of classes. Audra Tsanos has done MFA classes in NYC for years, Rebecca Frezza got her start doing Music Together, and Enzo Garcia is another. But Mr. Richard, who's definitely on the shortlist for the title of hardest-working guy in kids music, may be the first to join those types of classes after starting his own, independent kindie career. -- I noted this on Facebook yesterday, but the first video from Moona Luna is up. You can watch the currently exclusive video here (or just go straight to YouTube here). -- Frances England has a whole bunch of creative resolutions (designed very, er, creatively of course) and not only that she's pulled in a bunch of creative resolutions from folks like Caspar Babypants, Drew from Recess Monkey, Joe from the Okee Dokee Brothers and lots, lots more. Worth a perusal. -- Finally, in the category of self-promotion, Australian newspaper The Age dips its toes into the world of Australian kindie music and picks out the two best, Holly Throbsy and The Mudcakes. (It also cites this site, but not in a policeman-sort-of-way. The good way.)

Review: Piñata Party - Moona Luna

PinataParty.jpgOver the past couple years, I've received a number of Spanish-language kindie albums. I've wanted to like them, I really have, but found that very few were worth spinning for the music alone. Whatever pedagogical value they may have had -- and most of them were designed to teach Spanish -- most were musically unremarkable. Albums from Dan Zanes and Mariana Iranzi -- albums that incidentally weren't designed to teach Spanish -- were the exception. Of course there are classic albums from Suni Paz and José-Luis Orozco, but they are far more traditional in their sound. So I greeted the news of Moona Luna with anticipation -- the Latin-alternative band Pistolera led by Sandra Velásquez, daylighting as a family rock band? Yes, please (or, in the lingua franca of this review, si, por favor!) So while it's difficult to create music that entertains while teaching, on their debut Piñata Party, Moona Luna are up to the challenge with songs that feature bilingual lyrics and preschool-focused subjects. "Tomorrow's Another Day (Mañana Es Otro Día)" has an poppy, earwormy chorus and features the accordion (a staple of a lot of Norteño and Tejano music generally as well as this album). My favorite track on the album, "Hay Que Trabajar (We All Have To Work)," in addition to being a zippy Mexican pop song, is the first song I've heard which explains the difference between working and playing and why both are important. And the track "¿Queires Bailar?," about a cow (la vaca) looking for a friend to dance with, is just a fun bounce-along song that does also work in several other animals and their Spanish names. A couple other shout-outs: Dan Zanes makes an appearance on "Brinca, Jump!," a song encouraging jumping on the bed. Also, their take on the classic "De Colores" rocks a lot more than most versions I've heard. Even if you've grown tired of hearing the song -- I have at least a half-dozen versions in my library -- I think you'll appreciate their more energetic take on the album, which is probably the closest to "rock" the album gets. If there's any downside here, it's that I think it could easily be more Latin/Mexican in its sound and a little more complex lyrically. The weakest track, "Don't Ever Give Up," is the most English-based track on the album and doesn't get much beyond the titular platitude. I'm not suggesting that the next Moona Luna album should go all Los Tigres del Norte on us and features narcocorridos, and their songs are more designed for preschoolers/kindergartners, but there were points when I felt like they were playing it a little safe. (Perhaps that's just a function of trying to write lyrics that need to work in two languages.) The album is most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 6. You can hear some of the songs using the widget below. The album, officially released next week, is an Amazon exclusive. I'm glad that Moona Luna's here, because I think they've got a chance to produce some really good songs and a little bit of cross-cultural understanding. In any language, Piñata Party is lots of fun. It's got bilingual pop-rock that stands up to repeated spins, and while the educational component isn't the focus, there's a fair amount of Spanish just waiting to be picked up. Yes, la vaca, I would like to dance! Recommended.
Disclosure: I was provided an advance copy for possible review -- a quote from me can be found on the album packaging.

Moona Luna: Twice the Languages, Twice the Fun? (Hopefully Not Twice the Wait.)

moonaluna_band1.gifThere has been no shortage of bilingual Spanish-language family music released over the past couple years, not just traditional music, but also some with a bit of rock -- Dan Zanes is perhaps the best-known, but others like Mariana Iranzi also recording albums. One that I've been waiting for since the beginning of the year is the debut from Moona Luna, the family music alter-ego of Latin-alternative band Pistolera. They've had a couple tracks on their website for awhile now, but now they've got three up in blogger-friendly Bandcamp form. The band, led by singer-songwriter (and new mother) Sandra Velasquez, is actually recording two albums simultaneously -- one as Pistolera, one as Moona Luna -- so that probably explains why it's taken so long. But based on the tracks they've released thus far, I think it might be worth the wait. <a href="">Hay Que Trabajar / We All Have To Work by Moona Luna</a>