I probably would have made a bigger deal about the whole Kids' Day at Amoeba Records in Hollywood tomorrow (Sunday). Peter Himmelman in concert at 1 PM, assorted Yo Gabba Gabba! giveaways, et cetera, later in the day. (Hey, any place that features TMBG and Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang in-stores is OK by me.) But Randy Kaplan is in concert tomorrow here in Phoenix at almost exactly the same time, and so he gets my time. The concert is at 2 PM at the Church of the Beatitudes and is part of the Not Just For Kids concert series. Tickets are just $3 per person, $10 per family. If you're in Phoenix, you've probably already heard about it, but if you haven't, do join us. It will rock, not in the strictly rock sense, but it'll be fun, just like it was last time. Randy Kaplan - "Mosquito Song"
... it's everywhere now. The Land of Nod Curious World page, Peter Himmelman's own Curious World page, McDonald's. OK, not sure about the McDonald's part, but seriously, all over the place. Episode 1, "Friends," was really top-notch -- love the way Himmelman interacts with the kids, love the theme song, love the incredibly slow way Himmelman walks with King Ferdinand in the credits for "Turtle Talk." I think elementary school kids are really gonna dig this. The next episode ("Animals") is Sunday at 11 AM Chicago time. Here's the YouTube embed, because I'm old school and will passive-aggressively deal with the way Flash sometimes hates me. Peter Himmelman's Curious World, Episode 1 ("Friends") [YouTube]
... or even less depending on when you read this. Peter Himmelman's Curious World is set to premiere on Sunday at 11 AM Central time at the Land of Nod website. I was already kinda excited for the show, and yesterday I saw the show's trailer (below), which does nothing to diminsh the excitement... The show list after the jump...
As this Kids New Wave enters its second decade, long-time practitioners have matured in their songwriting. Peter Himmelman is no different. His initial albums, mostly fanciful and Roald-Dahl-like in their oddness, have given way to being grounded more (though not completely) in reality, and he's written more sharply-crafted (and well-produced) pop and rock songs. My Trampoline starts off with a bang, with three great songs -- the skittering keyboards of "Imagination"; the rocking "King Ferdinand," about Himmelman's turtle, fueled by an infectious guitar riff; and "My Trampoline," a bluesy rocker with a horn section. Himmelman sounds very comfortable singing about these very familiar situations, but he hasn't completely shed the fanciful diversions that dominated his earlier work for kids. Once again he rattles off a bunch of facts with a high truthiness quotient in "Statistical Factoids" and dreams of grass singing in the orchestral "Ten Billion Blades of Grass." His best work, though, is grounded in reality with just a touch of fantasy mixed in -- on the country "Main Dish," Himmelman sings "Does the relish ever want to be the hot dog / Does the pickle ever want to be the bun?" His use of food as a metaphor for figuring out one's role or place in life and being comfortable with your own self is genius. Himmelman is confident enough to throw in a gratuitous "Fiddler on the Roof" reference on the title track (or a Charlie Pride reference in "Main Dish"). Even more confident is his decision to reveal the story's point in narration at the end of "Pin Head" rather than the beginning. The 42-minute album is most appropriate for kids ages 5 through 10. You can hear samples from the album here. Order the album there or through the Minivan Productions website. Right now, Peter Himmelman is writing songs with the energy of a man who's figured out what he wants to say and how he wants to say it. My Trampoline is a strong collection of songs and stories in song for imaginative kids -- it's definitely a worthy musical companion for fans of Roald Dahl, Shel Silverstein, and good family music. Highly recommended.
Here's another Peter Himmelman song from My Trampoline performed on his Furious World webcast. I just love the guitar riff in this song. Plus a bonus made-up song (with a word that may or may not be acceptable for the kids in your household) and a brief snippet of Igor Stravinsky (who probably made a lot more people upset than the use of that word I just referred to). Peter Himmelman - "King Ferdinand" (Live)
So, yeah, I know I'm on the Peter Himmelman kick a lot recently, but this live video from last night's Furious World webcast shows Himmelman's band (along with the Ruby Friedman Orchestra) at their best. Not that you don't already know this, but My Trampoline, the title song of which is featured below, is out this week. Brady Rymer totally needs to cover this song. Not sayin' he'd do it better -- because this rocks -- but he'd do it well... Peter Himmelman - "My Trampoline" (Live)