High Meadow Songs is a collection of tracks from artists in New York's Hudson Valley to benefit High Meadow Arts, a local non-profit providing arts education for children and families. When getting a bunch of local musicians together for a benefit album, it doesn't hurt if your definition of "local musicians" includes Elizabeth Mitchell, Dog on Fleas, and Medeski, Martin & Wood. And if the CD just consisted of the tracks from those artists or collaborators, you'd have a pretty nifty 9-track album. Dog on Fleas turn in a very Fleas-ian (and local) "Buffalo Gals" and sound a bit like The Band on "Jenny Jenkins." Mitchell covers Jane Siberry's sweet "When Spring Comes," while MMW offer their reworking of "All Around the Kitchen" (accented with kids' voices) from their upcoming Let's Go Everywhere CD. Luckily there are a number of other tracks worth it for someone who's not from the area -- for example, Rebecca Coupe Franks & Her Groovemobile offer an original jazzy instrumental, "Ella Skye," and Abby Hollander and a whole bunch of High Meadow students perform Mark Morgenstern's story-in-song "Hudson River Girl." The album isn't so much an album of "kids music" as much as it is an album of kid-friendly folk music, "folk" defined rather broadly, as the album also includes a song from a musical comedy based on Beowulf ("True True Friend") and a couple of tracks from drummers Fode Sissoko and Toby Stover. As with any benefit album, especially a 65-minute one such as this one, the quality (or interest) of the tracks is not uniformly high, but the high points outweigh the rest. You can hear the first three tracks in their entirety here or listen to samples at the album's CDBaby page. It's probably most appropriate for kids ages 5 and up. High Meadow Songs will appeal most to fans of Dog on Fleas and Elizabeth Mitchell, but I think any listener (or family) who's a fan of folk music will find many pleasures here. It's a testament to one particular community's creative vibrancy. Recommended.
OK, I actually spent last weekend with my wife and away from the kids, which was very relaxing. And fun. Amazing how long of a conversation you can have. But it's also clear that last weekend's Spare the Rock / AudraRox hootenanny and the Park Slope Parents concert in Brooklyn was a blast. So to stave off any thoughts of jealousy I'm only going to provide the links here once. Yeah, I know Gwyneth beat me to this, but I blame that on laziness on my part, not lack of creativity. Besides, for some reason I can't explain, some of you still aren't reading her site. You people. (Besides, I've got some new stuff here, too.) -- The artist list for Saturday night, along with a picture from Bill. (Edit: More thoughts and pictures here. Warning: Takes for-freakin' ever to load.) -- Amy's inital thoughts here, with pictures from both concerts here. -- Gwyneth's thoughts and photos. -- Yosi's thoughts and a few photos. -- Warren weighed in. -- Hilltown Familes made the trek -- here are their photos (those may be gone -- try here instead). Also, Hilltown Families also put together a sweet collage. -- Photos of Saturday's hootenanny here, from Susan Fox, who clearly left early because, you know, she was putting on Sunday's concert. -- A video of Audra and Jen from AudraRox doing "D is for Drums" with Marty Beller [warning: very large file] -- Speaking of Sunday's concert, see a long slideshow with a fun though unrelated rendition of "Enjoy Yourself" here. Note: Adam from Astrograss just let me know they played "Enjoy Yourself" as a group finale. -- Here is another slideshow with (studio) versions of songs from the compilation. Now to check in on the other hootenanny/fests in the works...
By the end of March those of us in Phoenix are typically slathering on sunscreen and complaining that summer and 110-degree weather can't be far away. The fading days of spring would be made considerably more tolerable if we had a few Elizabeth Mitchell concerts to attend. Unfortunately for us, Mitchell lives in New York state and as a result those folks get some sweet music to go along with their March (and April) snowstorms. To wit: Mitchell and Uncle Rock will be playing at Levon Helm's awesome Midnight Ramble series on March 31st. The good news for the kids is that it's not at midnight, but rather at 2 PM. The bad news is that it's already sold out. (Unless you have tickets, in which case I ask you not to lord it over us.) But fear not, Mitchell fans, for she's also helping to organize a Family Concert Series at the High Meadow School. Besides the wonderful Hayes Greenfield doing his Jazz-A-Ma-Tazz program, the series also features Peter Schickele, creator of PDQ Bach. (Classical geek note: I once owned the PDQ Bach "autobiography." Hi-larious.) Oh, and Mitchell's playing a show with Dog on Fleas on April 15th. That would be worth driving through a snowdrift of some sort, to be sure.
The first video from New York musician Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could, for the peppy roots-rockin' "I Found It!," has been available on Rymer's website for a couple weeks now, but I was waiting for it to appear on YouTube. Well, now I've found it! (Groan.) I like the song, I like the way the backup singers appear everywhere, I like the general good-naturedness of the video. It's actually reminiscent of a lot of videos for adult bands. It's a concert video with a lot of happy fans, but it's that general good-naturedness -- the way Rymer sings about his '57 Gibson guitar -- that distinguishes it from what you might have seen on MTV 20 years ago.