The lineup for the 2011 edition of the Austin City Limits Festival (September 16-18, ugh, the humidity!) was announced this morning and, yeah, that top of the bill is pretty darn good. Stevie Wonder! Arcade Fire! Alison Krauss! Kanye West! My Morning Jacket! I've run out of exclamation points! (OK, now I have.) Still, scroll down a bit and you'll find the lineup for the Austin Kiddie Limits stage, not in a particularly friendly way, but the brainy among us can figure it out. As with the Kidzapalooza lineup, you can split the AKL lineup into 2 basic divisions. The first are the folks you'd most typically find here at this site... Sara Hickman Heidi Swedberg Mariana Iranzi Brady Rymer Recess Monkey That's a good lineup (heck, I've put on shows featuring three of 'em), and I think they're all a good fit for the AKL stage. Beyond that we have The Paul Green School of Rock, Q Brothers, Peter DiStefano & Tor, the Barton Hills Choir, and Quinn Sullivan, all making return appearances to the AKL stage. (Sullivan's performance may very well be the most crowded the stage gets all weekend.) So, in other words, while first-timers may find these performances worth sticking around for (and I think even I could be tempted to see the Barton Hills Choir), should we make the trip down to Austin again, I think it'll be an opportunity to broaden some of the kids' musical horizons... time to camp out in the gospel tent or catch Abigail Washburn.
Would you like a really cool album? How about for free? Of course you would, 'cause, you know, really cool albumfor free. Well, Sara Hickman and her partners in crime Family Time Rocks! have just given you that opportunity with Family Time Rocks! The Universe. It's one of Hickman's products as part of her year as the 2010 Texas State Musician, and it's worth your time even if you've never said "y'all" once. Given that it's designed to get families to be creative together, the stories told in a wide variety of languages probably won't hold a lot of repeat-listening value unless you're somewhat proficient in those languages, but there are some really great songs on the album, particularly as you get into it. It features the previously-noted-as-fabulous "Bananas," the rockin' "Turn it Off!" and much more. Download or stream it here or using the fancy widget below. And then go make up a song with your own family. [Edit: Lots of activities related to the album are here -- even the foreign-language stories have activities.]
I saw "for road trips" not because these are travel-themed but because there are seven of them. Seven seems like enough to get through at least a day or two of your drive across or through the country. Let's get to it, then. I don't think the guys in Seattle's Recess Monkey actually sleep. They already release more CDs than just about anybody else, and now they're cranking out a DVD a year, too. Like their first volume, Field Trips with Recess Monkey Episodes 5-8 features a combination of band "field trips" (Sirius-XM studios, Ella Childs at Spare the Rock, illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka), live shows, and their stellar videos. The videos are the highlight of the DVD ("The Teens" and "Sack Lunch" in particular) -- should episodes 9 through 12 be in the works (knowing the trio, they probably are), the band should consider creating a menu that'll allow viewers to just access the videos. Recommended. The Nields' Organic Farm DVD is, as you'd expect, an appealingly low-fi (dare I say "organic") affair. It's mostly a collection of tunes recorded in front of a live audience, and features the Nields singing a number of hits from their two family albums. As they were on record, the Nields sisters are joined by their father on a few songs. Among the non-live tracks are a couple songs showing how a parent or teacher might use a song as a simple teaching tool. It's a nice little bonus treat. Recommended.
The question I wanted to ask Sara Hickman but didn't was, "So when do you sleep?" Because with all things Hickman does on a regular basis, it seems like the answer might be, "Every other Thursday between 2 and 3 AM in months with the letter 'e'." It starts out with the music -- she's been recording and touring for nearly a quarter-century (I always loved her debut Equal Scary People) and making music for families, starting with the release of Newborn in 1999, followed by Toddler and Big Kid. But in addition to that she paints, advocates, and for those of us who've met her, even briefly, is a force of nature for positivity. Now she'll be spending the next year as the Official Texas State Musician, using her musical bully pulpit to promote, among other things, making music as families through her Family Time Rocks. Aaaaaannnd, she found time to answer a few questions. Read on for more details on Family Time Rocks, her musical upbringing, and teaching her kids to sing in three-part harmony. Zooglobble: What were your first musical memories? Sara Hickman: My mom says I was singing before I was talking, humming little notes and melodies. But I distinctly remember sitting with my tape recorder, around age 6 or 7, and writing songs, making up commercials, creating skits a la Carol Burnett, recording and laughing myself silly. I also remember getting on stage at 7 or 8 and singing, for the first time, on a microphone (wow! -- it was an epiphany to be amplified!) and on stage, singing in a school contest and winning first place for the poem about the bald eagle (I was the only one to sing their entry). I recently found a RECORDING of me singing the song as a child on an old cassette!!! When did you decide that you wanted to make making music your career? I just always knew. I never thought about doing anything else, although I did have a huge interest in paleontology and becoming an underwater architect! What prompted you record (and more importantly, release) your first kids' CD, Newborn?
OK, not really. But you know how I told you about Sara Hickman's long list of 2010 activities? And how Sara Hickman's been making music with Jason Molin? Well, they'be been cranking out more demos. Yeah, the awesome "Bananas" is still there, along with some other demos, including "Family Time Rocks." What's that all about? Well, it has something to do with Family Time Rocks, Hickman's and Molin's attempt to use her status as Texas State Musician to get families to get more creative. (That website just has a splash page that doesn't do anything, but does have a Nov. 7 date. Hmmmm....) Anyway, all that would be reason enough to post something and to be excited, but here's where I blow your minds, folks. Guess who's joining Family Time Rocks?
Does your state have an official state musician? Well, as a person who's been living in and traveling to/from Texas for about a quarter century now, I can assure you that Texas cares about its music. And for 2010 the Official Texas State Musician is none other than Sara Hickman. Considering that their 2009 Official Texas State Musician is Willie Nelson, Hickman's in fine company. She's also in other fine company. In this week's newletter she announced that she was going spend year focusing on families...
Sara has decided to utilize the opportunity to bring attention to arts/music in the schools, in families. Her mantra is FAMILY TIME ROCKS! and she hopes to raise awareness of how school funding is being cut for the arts, and to sell cds to generate income for BIG THOUGHT (Dallas, TX) and Theatre Action Project (T.A.P./Austin), two groups that bring poetry, theatre, creative expression to kids in Texas that, otherwise, would not be exposed to creative thought... Her feeling is that families who create and play together, stay together.And to that end she's collaborating with a whole lot of folks. Of greatest interest to fans of Sara's family music (namely, me), she will be: -- Working with Jason Molin on Family Time Rocks!", which will "incorporate music, ideas, conversation to stimulate/motivate/create family creativity time!" (Exclamation point in the original, though, hey, I'm OK with it.) -- Producing a CD for Monica Cravotta and friends "musician moms sharing songs for wee ones! Whee!" (again, exclamation points and "Whee" in the original, though I'm partial to "Whee!" myself.) -- Working on a DVD of animated shorts of her children's songs. The second and third items are exciting enough. The first? Really exciting. One, because Molin has a little experience with writing kid-friendly music (The Jellydots covered Molin's "Lake Rules" on their Hey You Kids! disk). Two, because if this song from Hickman's and Molin's "Newspaper and Trumpet" compilation is any indication of what the rest of the disk will entail (at least musically), it will be way fun.