It's been awhile since I checked in with Toronto's Jerry Levitan, who's put out a couple kids music CDs as Sir Jerry (read my review of his latest CD here). So I was a bit surprised to see him resurface... as an Oscar nominee. That's right -- Levitan produced I Met The Walrus, which animates a 5-minute excerpt of his 40-minute interview with John Lennon. I mean, I knew he was developing a movie on the experience, but it's not everyday that films based on 40 minutes of one's life get made, let alone nominated for Best Animated Short Film. So good for him. (Hat tip: The Daily Swarm)
The other matchup on the second day of KidVid Tournament 2007 pits the #2 seed in the Lead BellyRegion, "Tricycle" from Frances England against the #3 seed, "Bees, Butterflies and Bugs" from Sir Jerry. Vote in the comments below. Rules: Video with most votes wins. One vote per e-mail address, please. Votes due by Saturday noon-ish East Coast time. [Note: Sorry about just showing links instead of embedding the videos. I'm trying to keep the playing field relatively level here -- if I can't show both videos here (i.e., they're not both on YouTube and clearly placed there at the artists' request) I'm only going to show the links for both of 'em.] "Tricycle" - Frances England To view this video, click on the YouTubed version here. "Bees, Butterflies and Bugs" - Sir Jerry To view this video, head to Sir Jerry's website. After clicking to "Enter the Website" and the website loads, click on the blue-skied landscape in the lower-right-hand corner. You want the video, not the live clip.
Get this man a TV show. Now. Wondering what in the world I'm talking about? Go check out the website or the music video (lower right-hand corner of the "house" -- the sky-blue horizon room -- yeah, I know it sounds ridiculous, but it's a good indication of the creativity at work with this artist. Take one listen to Sir Jerry's World, the 2006 release and second kids' album from Toronto-based Sir Jerry, and tell me that that 37-minute album wouldn't make for a great episode of television, regardless of whether you're 8 or 38. Sir Jerry, er, Jerry Levitan, interviewed John Lennon -- yes, that John Lennon -- when he (Jerry) was just 14 years old. As a result, a lot of his press coverage tends to make Beatles comparisons, but I don't hear it too much. Sure, perhaps in songs such as "The Chi L'in Purse," the Eastern sounds of the story song give it a very Beatles-go-to-India effect, but Sir Jerry explores a much broader musical palette. The horn-based rock of "Sir Jerry's Theme," the played-for-laughs rapping on "Do the Melman," the sheer They Might Be Giants-esque goofiness of "Swinging Through the Portals of Time," the winsome pop of "Superhero," -- all show a very Beatlesque willingness to try new things, but don't really sound like the Beatles. Another more apt comparison musically that's been suggested is David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust, which on tracks such as "King Santa" makes more sense. (And the band, led by Levitan's partner in musical crime Ruben Huizenga, sounds pretty good, too.) With so many different musical approaches and combination of jokey and less-jokey stuff, the album doesn't quite hang together, but it's definitely never boring. The album is targeted mostly at kids ages 4 through 9. You can hear some selected tracks at Sir Jerry's website (go to the room in the upper-left-hand corner and click on the piano to hear 2 songs from each of his albums). With an elaborate stage show (up to 10 people at a time) and time spent acting on Toronto stages, Sir Jerry would seem to be a natural person to tackle a goofy Pee Wee's Playhouse-type TV show. I like Sir Jerry's World the album. But I'd love Sir Jerry's World: The TV Show.