In case you're wondering, yes, I will get back to some semblance of regular posting sometime soon. Other projects going on and the like. In the meantime, please enjoy this performance by Randy Kaplan from the Portland, Oregon Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti release party in mid-September. Here he's playing "No Nothin'." (And, again, a reminder: go here to find out how you can get a free CD just for buying Many Hands -- there are still some available, including a Randy Kaplan one.) Randy Kaplan - "No Nothin'" (Live in Portland) [YouTube]
It's been about a month since Randy Kaplan came through Phoenix and played a couple sets at the Children's Museum of Phoenix. As always, his storytelling was a hit with the audience. The title track (so to speak) from his new album The Kids Are All Id features words tumbling out of his mouth at a rapid speed and, as Kaplan admitted after the song, is probably more for the parents than the kids. But I like it. (And so do the kids.) Randy Kaplan - "The Kid Is All Id" [YouTube]
It's taken me a little time to fully appreciate Randy Kaplan for what he is -- one of family music's most inventive storytellers. There were times at which I thought songs like "Shampoo Me" were, though amusing, a little silly and not quite the Dan Zanes-like music I thought Kaplan could -- or maybe should -- make. I was wrong. It's songs like "Shampoo Me" that are what make Randy, Randy. The fanciful stories sprung from the conjoined heads of Shel Silverstein and Bob Dylan are Kaplan's calling card, and he's very, very good at them. His third album for kids, The Kids Are All Id, is to my mind, his most story-intensive collection yet. From the get-go, Kaplan tells inventive stories in folk songs about characters you haven't heard from -- "The Hebrew-Speaking Bear," an Elizabeth II-aping queen bee on "Little Bee," or his monkey Kqxhc, who makes a return appearance on "Is She a Girl or Is She a Monkey." Kaplan doesn't dig too deep into lessons -- his cover of "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'" and his original "My Little Laugh," about laughing at situations that might otherwise make him cry are about as deep as he gets. The album is titled The Kids Are All Id on purpose -- there are lots of characters here who are somewhat exasperating -- Joe, of course, the title character in the folk-punk "The Kid Is All Id," Kaplan's younger self in his rreworking of "Don't You Leave Me Here," or the toddler who responds to every joke setup line with "This Guy." The first ten or so songs are, if not frenzied, at least active. As a result, the trio of Ezra Jack Keats-based songs about two-thirds of the way through the disk come like a soothing balm. "I Like Cacti" is a sweet, sweet song -- I can't get over the line "What attracts us / About a cactus?" Indeed, while I've been focusing on the words here, Kaplan writes some great musical bits (there's a part in "The Kid Is All Id," in which the adult supervisor breaks free with a plaintive, soaring chorus) and he and his producer Mike West give the album a natural, expansive sound. The 54-minute album will be most appreciated by kids aged 4 through 8. You can listen to 3 of the tracks at Randy's Myspace page. The Kids Are All Id is Randy Kaplan's best album yet, and shows Kaplan's greatest strength -- his ability to listen to and interact with the kids who are his audience and to turn that into stories in song. Instead of suggesting that Randy could be the next Dan Zanes, perhaps I should've suggested Bill Harley. Definitely recommended.
The idea of a "release date" in the music industry is a slippery one these days -- is it when you start selling the disks at shows? When it shows up on iTunes? When you tell a major magazine it is so it meets their 4-month lead time? No matter when it's released, there's definitely some anticipation for Randy Kaplan's new disk The Kids Are All Id. If features the by-now-standard Kaplan approach of mixing standards and buried classics with original songs that tell stories in Kaplan's unique style. It also features some really cool cover art, about which Kaplan reports:
I did all the drawings of the faces and my designer in Paris, Laurent Rivelaygue, created the overlapping collage. The cover was originally yellow but my friend Michelle said it was too close to Five Cent Piece. So I asked for orange and teal and I chose the orange one.Anyway, I dig it. If you want to read more, Jeff over at Out With the Kids talked with Randy a little while back. And while you'll have an opportunity to see Randy on the east coast a few times, I'm happy to report that he's coming back to Phoenix again next month, this time at my series at the Children's Museum of Phoenix. He'll be playing a couple of sets on June 13 at 10:30 and 11:30 AM. Track listing and a sneak preview of one track after the jump...
When I was putting together my recap of Doug Snyder's performance here in Phoenix a week or so ago, I realized that I'd totally skipped providing a recap of Randy Kaplan's show here back in November -- heck, I hadn't even uploaded the videos from the show. So there's little I can say about the show three months after the fact other than: 1) Kaplan's a really good live act, and 2) he played some new songs. That's right, Kaplan's got a new album coming out this spring, but even last fall he treated the Phoenix crowd to some new songs, including the one below, which, appropriately enough for the desert, featured cacti. Randy Kaplan - "I Like Cacti" (Live) [YouTube]