Moving on to the second day of KidVid Tournament 2007, this matchup pits the #2 seed in the Pete Seeger Region, "I'm From The Sun" from Gustafer Yellowgold against the #3 seed, "I Hope My Mama Says YES!" from AudraRox. 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.] "I'm From the Sun" - Gustafer Yellowgold To view this video, click on the YouTubed version here. "I Hope My Mama Says YES!" - AudraRox To view this video, head to Jack's Big Music Show player. Roll over the picture of a red-hair-streaked Audra on the right, kid on the left.
Ted Williams was the last person to hit .400 for a baseball season, and now I'm duplicating the feat (using my own, very narrow, self-selected definition). 5 shows, 2 with our family's attendance... -- Trout Fishing in America: They played here the weekend before last. I know that Trout's music appeals to all ages, but the fact that they played at the auditorium smack-dab in the community of Sun City -- which prohibits kids from living there -- amused me slightly. In any case, it's a long drive out there from our house, and since we were co-hosting a Chinese New Year's party that night, we took a pass. Hopefully next time... -- Baby Loves Disco: All four of us attended the soiree in Scottsdale this weekend and had a fun time (again). I'll have more on this maybe next week. -- The Terrible Twos: Argh. This show was schedule at the very last minute, so late that there was zero confirmation of the show except on the band's myspace page. We had guests visiting that afternoon, and shooing them out the door a little early so we could see a show that no human had actually confirmed seemed, well, my wife drew the line at that. And, yeah, that would have been bush-league. (So needless to say, I was a little disappointed when the venue's owner called up later that night and said that, yes, the show did indeed go on.) Hopefully next time... -- Dan Zanes: Sunday, April 22nd, Tucson. We are there. I can't wait. I'm bringin' the uke. -- Finally, some radio show's hootenanny in Brooklyn on March 24: Either that or the Park Slope Parents CD-release party on March 25th would be a lot of fun. It would also be terribly inconvenient, geographically (not to mention I'm already out of town that weekend). So are you listening, West Coast? San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland -- I'm talking to you -- each of you have enough kids' artists that you could put together a pretty good hootenanny yourself. (Or if you all want to come out to Phoenix, let me know...) Don't let the East Coast Bias win!
So, the taste-making juggernaut of Jack's Big Music Show continues with this video for "I Hope My Momma Says Yes!" from New York-based AudraRox (see the video at Jack's webpage). Stylistically, this song isn't really like the rest of her fun debut album I Can Do It By Myself (review here), but the peppy bluegrass/country lends itself well to the madcap playing with the kids in the video. Plus, the band looks like they're having a blast. That's the difference, I guess, between kids music videos and adult music videos -- you rarely see a bunch of tormented kids pounding their hands against the wall in the rain.
Compilations are notoriously hard things to compile. Any fool can put together a CD of good or popular songs, but their appeal as a single entity often fades after time. (Really, who listens to those Now! CDs, like, six months later?) The key is finding some loosely unifying theme or spirit to guide the collection. Park Slope Parents The Album (Vol. 1) has just enough theme to carry the day. The 17-track collection plucks chooses songs old and new, released and not, from mainly New York City artists. There are a few tracks that deal with life in New York City -- David Weinstone (Music for Aardvarks) contributes his simple "Subway" ("Bing bong / the doors open on the train / bing bong / All the people pile in") while Michael Leyden has a more rocking take in "I Hear a Train." Any compilation should also be measured by how well it does in helping you to discover new artists, rediscover chestnuts from old artists, and getting new tracks from your favorite artists. In terms of discovering new artists, Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel's "The Season Song" is a perfect pop tune from an adult band (whose members both teach in schools) writing a kids' song (specifically for this album). Dan Zanes contributes the "The Monkey's Wedding" from his Parades and Panoramas disk while Daniel Schorr's "Good Boy with a Bad Reputation" (off his first album) is a great example of his countryfied Dwight Yoakam-esque rock. And the new tracks. These, my friends, are why you should get yourself on the CDBaby waiting list and order the disk. Smack dab in the middle of the disk are two great new cuts. The Deedle Deedle Dees contribute their ode to New York City roadways (had to balance out the public transportation songs, I suppose) with "Major Deegan," which was recorded for their upcoming album. The loping song sounds timeless, especially with those "whoo-whoo's". And The Quiet Two continue their surreal attack on kids' music with the loopy and giddy "When I Dream." AudraRox's reggae song of tolerance "Moms & Dads" and the sometimes-out-of-control (in a good way) "Drunken Sailor" contributed by Astrograss (with backing vocals from AudraRox's Audra and Jen) are just as good. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the sweetest track, the album closer "Fools Will Try." Somehow these Brooklyn parents got Ralph Covert to contribute a track from his 1997 album Birthday, and it's nothing less than some of the best advice you can give to a child. This is one of those songs that should appear on a lot of new parents' mix CDs... The album is probably most appropriate for kids 3 through 8 (who probably don't care less about the appropriateness of a compilation and who just care whether a CD has good songs, which this one does in spades). The album is a fundraiser for Park Slope Parents, an informational website for parents in Park Slope, Brooklyn. For those of you who don't live in New York City, I'd recommend the CDBaby page, where you can hear samples. (The cover, by the way, is by children's author and illustrator Mo Willems, who contributes drawings that are more "Knuffle Bunny" than "Pigeon.") Though collected for kids living in New York City, Park Slope Parents The Album (Vol. 1) is appropriate for families visiting New York City, learning about New York City, oh, heck, lovers of good music. It's a great collection of music and it's definitely recommended.
Based in New York City and led by mother of two Audra Tsanos, AudraRox strikes a punk pose -- a leather-jacketed, hair-streaked elementary school student poses on the cover of their debut album I Can Do It By Myself!, released earlier this month. But make no mistake, their music is more pop than punk. Which is by no means a put-down when the pop is as finely tuned as it is here. One of the stand-out tracks is a 2-minute slice of power-pop goodness called "Tired," which sounds a bit like the Replacements (if the Replacements had three women doing vocals). On the New Wave-styled titled track, Tsanos channels the Missing Persons' Dale Bozzio. The band also runs through other styles -- country ("I Hope My Mama Says YES!"), funky blues ("Where's My Shoes Blues"), disco, etc -- and sounds great doing 'em all. And not only does the band sound great, they all have assorted songwriting credits on the album. Lyrically, the album tackles typical 6-year-old concerns -- the effects of rough-housing ("All My Toys Are Broken") or begging for a little extra parental indulgence ("I Hope My Mama Says YES!"). The songs are mostly written in the first person, so the young listeners will grasp on easily, but there are enough sly bits to hook the parents. I was particularly amused by how the band turned the plaintive phrase "everybody's havin' more fun than we are" into a whole song that ever so gently chides the child that uses it. And the only thing better than a 7-minute song about procrastination ("I'm gonna button my coat so I don't catch a cold / I'll do it in a minute, but first, I'll sing the chorus" -- how very meta) is a good 7-minute song about procrastination. Given the lyrical focus, it's targeted right at kids ages 4 through 8. You can hear samples at the CDBaby page for the album. In its willingness to explore a whole bunch of pop and rock styles, I Can Do It By Myself reminds me -- in a good way -- of Ralph's World albums. It's energetic and lots of fun, speaking to kids without ignoring the parents in the back of the room. Recommended.