In my last edition, I highlighted some free Halloween tunes. This time 'round, the songs aren't free, but the videos are. Is that better or worse? First up, Princess Katie and Racer Steve hired a 53-piece orchestra for their Halloween tune, which is about 51 more pieces than they could have gotten had they hired the Shepherd family. I think they made the right choice. Also, I draw like crap, so the video's waaaaay better, too. Princess Katie and Racer Steve - "Halloween" [YouTube] But wait, there's more!
Today -- June 14 -- is Flag Day, a holiday which, though minor in the greeting card scheme of things, looms large in the imaginations of kids music artists. (Why doesn't Thanksgiving get the same respect?) Here are three Flag Day videos to get you in a patriotic summertime mood. First up, it's Billy Kelly, with a new video for "That Old American Flag," off his most recent album The Family Garden. It's a straight-up, un-ironic tribute to the flag and his dad. Added bonus of the video -- revealing one of Billy's secret talents. It's, er, singular in nature (watch 'til the end). Bill Kelly - "That Old American Flag" [YouTube]
There's so much holiday music in the kids music genre that just listening to it all this year was a daunting task. I've got eight albums that grabbed my attention in one way or another; one of them is bound to please your family (unless you're looking for a solstice, Kwanzaa, or Festivus album). Let's start out with my 3 favorite albums of this particular season... The most ambitious kids music holiday album of the year comes courtesy of The Hipwaders, whose A Kindie Christmas isn't so much an album of Christmas music as much as it is a Christmas concept album, covering the emotions and anticipation of the season. It's a collection of all-original tunes, done in the Hipwaders power-pop/rock style. "It's Wintertime" is a great dance tune, and "Santa's Train" sounds like an outtake to a Johnny Cash Christmas album, but my favorite track here, maybe of the season, is "There's Too Much Good," a very affirming sentiment at this time of year. To say that the collaboration of Danny Adlerman, Kevin Kameraad, and Yosi finally bridges the divide between Christian and Jewish holiday traditions makes ...And a Happy New Year sound a lot duller than it really is. In reality, the three kids rockers mostly take turns in providing songs, alternately deeply sincere ("Starlight" and "Two Sets of Footprints") and goofy (the "12 Days of Christmas" reworking "A Pickle for my Christmas Tree" and a cover of Tom Lehrer's "I'm Spending Hanukkah in Santa Monica"). Featuring the season's hardest-rocking tune, the trio's cover of "Frosty the Snowman," it's an interfaith collection worth exploring regardless of whether you light menorah or advent candles. Robert Burke Warren, AKA Uncle Rock, spent time in London's West End performing a Broadway show but also rocked in far earthier terms. On Express Your Elf, Warren taps into both of those performing personalities. On the one hand, he offers a crooning take on "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and a peaceful "My Favorite Things" (a perfect holiday song, when you think about it). Those tracks share space with the rootsy
original long-lost nugget "Santa's Coming in a Whirlybird" and a cover of "Feliz Navidad" that neatly weaves "La Bamba" into the mix. It's a tough (and close) call, but it's my favorite kids music holiday disk of the year.
There are others for your listening pleasure. Read on for more...
Perhaps it's too late for you to burn a list of songs for your dad for Father's Day onto CD. Well, then, Frances England has come to the rescue, providing an e-card to send to your favorite Daddy-ish guys. The music on the e-card? England's "Daddy-O," of course. (And file away "Best Friends Forever" and "Thinking of You" cards for future use.) But if you're like me -- you know, a dad -- and you feel a little weird sending yourself a Father's Day e-card, you'll feel much less weird reading a whole bunch of dad-related interviews over at Yosi's Indie Kids Rock blog. Lots of kids music dads join in the fun, including Ralph Covert, the guys from Hot Peas 'n' Butter, Mr. RAY, Robbie Schaefer, Ernie & Neal, and ScribbleJim (whose submitted family photo I think is a hoot). Worth a couple minutes of your time, even if you're not a dad.
My major winter holiday isn't for another two weeks and then some (and, yeah, I'll have some goodies in that regard), but for those of you looking for some kid-music-oriented spin on your Festival of Lights, Yosi is hosting "HanuKids" on Saturday from 7-9 Eastern on XM Radio's Radio Hanukkah. Yosi promises "true life stories, music, candle lighting, trivia, nosh and plenty of laughs." Not quite sure how the candle lighting will work on radio, but, hey, I'm not Jewish, so what do I know?. (And if you aren't an XM subscriber but want to check it out, you can get a free trial for XM's online service here.)
A brief note about an interesting-sounding show tonight in New Jersey. Danny Adlerman and Yosi are appearing at the same show tonight in Metuchen, New Jersey, opening up for Mr. Ray. That by itself wouldn't necessarily lead to a mention here, but what I love about it is that Danny and Yosi are going to play each other's songs. It's kind of like a kids' music hoot night except that it's two artists, not the more typical one, and the hooted artists are actually on stage together, and other people aren't singing. So, really, nothing like a hoot night at all. But still kinda cool.