It's time for another roundup of all things ketchup related... OK, not really, it's just a variety of stuff that caught my eye (and ear) since, well, the last Ketchup Report. This one is an all-video edition. Except for these words right here. And the ones below. First off, this is how you do a promo for a kindie album. A very effective teaser for Alastair Moock's forthcoming album These Are My Friends featuring Moock and Annad Nyack. If there was a tagline for the teaser, it might be "It's just crazy enough to work!"
Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band played their first concert at the Children's Museum of Phoenix this past weekend, and we had fun indeed. It was a wonderful little concert targeted to the mostly preschool-aged crowd in attendance, with Swedberg occasionally pulling out a silly voice, while the Phoenix version of the Sukey Jump Band (Daniel Ward on bass uke and Doug Nottingham on everything percussive) held down the low end. (I think the kids particularly liked Nottingham's Boomwhacker solo.) Swedberg and her band also played a few songs she picked up in her recent trip to Haiti. I've embedded a couple of the songs below -- "Tonton Bouki," the Creole version of "Frere Jacques," along with a Haitian lullaby. They also did a Haitian call-and-response. I'm really only appreciating now how lucky we were to catch the gig in such a small space. While Swedberg didn't pull out her crate of ukes for kiddos at the show (though Little Boy Blue brought his new uke, as did another one or two kids), she did have lots of them for use at a workshop she hosted for 12-15 folks on Sunday afternoon in downtown Phoenix. While you can give ukes to preschoolers, kids have to be a little bit older to grasp the bare rudiments of musical theory you need to play the uke (or to have the patience to sit through the tiny little lessons). A lot was second nature to me, but Miss Mary Mack joined me, and it was definitely right at her skill level. (And while the notes/chords part wasn't new to me, getting guidance on strumming and finger-picking was a big help.) Swedberg's not the only ukulele evangelist, but she's doing the one-on-one work that'll make this resurgence more than a fad. She's coming back to town in January, and I think it'll be a big deal. (Also, attention Austin City Limits Festival 2011: -- if you don't have ukes for sale during her performances, you people are nuts.) Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band - "Tonton Bouki (Frere Jacques)" (Live at the Children's Museum of Phoenix) [YouTube]
OK, well, you probably need more, but it's enough to get started with. Dan Zanes has continued to release videos on how to make music on a variety of instruments -- guitar, mandolin, spoons, even. I was apparently not the only person who requested ukulele lessons, as Zanes has now released a ten-minute video of (very) basic ukulele technique. (Note: I actually think Dan had this recorded for a while, so I take zero credit for this whatsoever.) He covers the first three chords almost everybody learns when they first pick up the uke -- C major, F major, and G7. You know those three, and you can play a heckuva lot of songs. By the end he throws in C7 and F7, and you've got yourself a party. You also know a lot of lyrics to "Crawdad."
I'd stumbled across the Loog Guitar on Kickstarter within a day or two of its project being introduced on the site. Within another couple days after that, the project -- a three-string guitar with interchangeable parts that could be assembled with kids -- had already met its funding goal. And why not? The combination of a kid- (not to mention adult-)friendly design and sustainable production was, unsurprisingly, a big hit. At this point, two weeks before its funding deadline, it's already reached more than $52,000 in pledges, 3 1/2 times its funding goal. Even musician nerds (and I mean that in the best way) like Chris Ballew expressed interest in the project. The creator of the Loog, Rafael Atijas, answered a few questions about inspirations for the guitar, direct and indirect, why someone might one instead of a ukulele, and the source of its curious name. Zooglobble: What are your musical memories growing up? Rafael Atijas: I remember when I was 12 and I decided I wanted to be in a band. But I had no idea how to play guitar and this is what i thought: "I'm too old (:-))... it will take me forever to learn how to play guitar... I'd better pick up the bass, since it has less strings and should be easier/faster to learn." I guess that was really the beginning of Loog Guitars.
Do family musicians have long careers because they have lots of ideas, or do they have lots of ideas because they've had long careers? While you're pondering the chicken-and-egg nature of the question, you can read this interview with Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, who might be exhibit A for consideration of the question. Over the course of more than 25 years of making music together full-time, they've got a lot of different plates spinning - albums, concerts, ukulele orchestras, creating musical curricula, and much more. Their latest endeavor is called Sing to Your Baby, a book/CD set designed to encourage parents, grandparents, and other caregiver to, er, sing to their babies. The idea that everyone should sing to and with their kids from the get-go is an important one to me, so I wanted to spend a few minutes chatting with Fink and Marxer about the project. And, as if to emphasize the duo's reach across the broad spectrum of family music, we started out chatting about one of kindie music's hot new groups, the Pop Ups, and ended by talking about living legend Ella Jenkins. Zooglobble: Good morning! Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer: Good morning... so are you looking forward to going to Kindiefest? I am. You? We don't think we're going, but if plans change, we'll try... We're excited that the Pop Ups will be playing there. As am I... It was interesting to me the first time I listened to this random CD and found out that y'all were on one of the songs. Yes, and now one of the two, Jacob Stein, his father, Michael Stein, is the male vocalist on our album. Really? [Checks his copy of the book.] Wow. Hadn't made the connection. Cathy: Yes, he was in Country Current, the Navy's country band, when I first met him in the '70s. Later he performed and wrote songs for the Dinosaur Rock series. More recently, he became a cantor out in California. OK, so I usually start out interviews by asking people what their earliest musical memories are. In this particular case, I'm wondering what memories you have of music-making and singing by your parents.
OK, I know that what I'm about to write is just my attempt to spruce up a press release and give it a fun and slightly ironic spin. But. Zooey Deschanel! Winnie the Pooh! Really, that's almost worth the exclamation points. So Disney is releasing a new movie called Winnie the Pooh on July 15. And they've recruited "Actress/Musician/Singer/ Songwriter/Lumberjack" (OK, that last one wasn't in the press release) Zooey Deschanel to perform three songs for the film -- the "Winnie the Pooh" theme song, “A Very Important Thing to Do” and the original end-credit song “So Long,” written by Deschanel and performed with She & Him bandmate M. Ward. (She also lends backing vocals to a couple other songs.) I'll spare you the silly, gushing words from everyone to say only that Deschanel apparently plays the ukulele in the theme song. Why am I writing all this? Only because the few clips you can hear of "So Long" in the YouTube clip below make it seem like Deschanel was a great choice, a worthy successor to Jenny Lewis' work on the Bolt soundtrack.