Intro to Kindie: Dave Loftin (Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl)

Dave Loftin and kids

Dave Loftin and kids

Continuing our Intro to Kindie series -- the fact that there's a second entry makes it a series, right? -- this week I've got a list from Chattanooga's Dave Loftin that outlines how he'd spend an hour introducing kids music to someone new to the concept. 

For more than 9 years, Dave has been spinning music for kids and families on his show, the Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl.  The show airs 8 'til 10 AM on (what else?) Saturday mornings, streamed on out of Chattanooga.

When he sent me the list, he took the "one hour" concept seriously -- he says it's timed out at 59 minutes and 57 seconds.  That doesn't leave a lot of time for intros, bumpers, or chatter, but it does leave a lot of time for some great music.

My first thought about coming up with a “Kindie 101” of sorts was, “Awesome! This will be great.” Then I quickly realized, after being waist-deep in this genre for nine and half years, "this is going to be a lot more challenging than I thought." I’ve been exposed to so much talent over these years and trying to think back to my first kindie discoveries and the elation that accompanied those experiences might prove a challenge.

This list is not a best-of list (because that would just be cruel of Stefan to ask) but rather these are the artists that stood out to me when I first heard them. They all had and have something that can make naysayers of kids’ music rethink what they believe they know of the genre.

This is laid out as a mixtape. There’s no order of importance and it’s not a top 20 list, but it’s made to flow. Not too different than how I program the show. Just like the tapes some of us poured so many hours into getting just right.

Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl logo

Saturday Morning Cereal Bowl logo

So here it is. Your SMCB Mixtape:

Side A

Lucky Diaz - “Blue Bear” [Luckiest Adventures]

Mr. David - “Jumpy in the Jumpy House” [Jump in the Jumpy House]       

Frances England - “Place in Your Heart” [Mind of My Own]

Caspar Babypants - “$9.99” [More Please!]

Alex Volz - “Tommy the Talking Taco” [Awesome Songs For Cool Kids]

Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke - “Big Pet Pig” [Rise and Shine]

Gustfer Yellowgold - “I’m From the Sun” [Wide Wild World]

The Okee Dokee Brothers - “Can You Canoe?” [Can You Canoe?]

Trout Fishing in America - “It’s Better Than That” [Infinity]

Randy Kaplan - “Don’t You Leave Me Here” [The Kids Are All ID]

WAWL logo

WAWL logo

Side B

Mista Cookie Jar & the Chocolate Chips - “Gratitude”

Shine & the Moonbeams - “Bully Bully” [Shine & the Moonbeams]

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - “Pillowfort Pillowfight” [The Perfect Quirk]

The Pop Ups - “Box of Crayons” [Radio Jungle]

Renee & Jeremy - “Watch Where You’re Goin’” [C’mon]

Ratboy Jr. - “High 5 Your Shadow” [Champions of the Universe]

Recess Monkey - “Knocktopus” [Field Trip]

Egg - “What’s Inside” [Sunny Side Up]

Charlie Hope - “Train Song” [It’s Me!]

Lunch Money - “Time Out” [Spicy Kid]

Video: "Robot Dance" - The Pop Ups

I watch a lot of kids music videos.  Some I like, others I don't, but for the most part into which category a particular video falls is more about execution and the song itself.

Every now and then, however, a video comes along which is so mind-blowing that simply to categorize it as good (or bad) seems not to do it justice.

Such is the case with "Robot Dance," the brand-new video from The Pop Ups.  The song itself is from the band's most recent album, the most-excellent Appetite for Construction.  The video is part of a video series the band is launching today, featuring a mixture of puppetry, live action, and animation.  The other four videos feature some new music, funny puppets, and what would appear to be regular "bits."

But this fifth video, for "Robot Dance," a "freeze" song, is... Well, the most accurate way I can put it is that it's bonkers.  Totally bonkers.  But in the best way.  So much love for this.

The Pop Ups - "Robot Dance" [YouTube]

The Kindie Rock Showdown Has Begun!

Kindie Rock Showdown logo

Kindie Rock Showdown logo

I told you last week about the impending re-boot of the KidVid Tournament, in which for several years I pitted kids music videos against each in friendly competition to determine one fan favorite.  The fine folks at batteryPOP have partnered with me to create the Kindie Rock Showdown.  For the next four weeks, eight great kindie bands and artists will compete to see who will claim this year's title.

The first two matchups went live yesterday, and if you missed it, well, you still have 6 days left to vote.  Literally -- you can vote once a day through Sunday.

Last week I told you who would be competing, but not the specific videos.  Well, now it can be revealed: it's Alphabet Rockers' "Dynamite" vs. The Bazillions' "No Homework" and Danny Weinkauf's "Ice Cream" against Caspar Babypants' "The Stump Hotel."

You probably know all about these fine artists, but if not, a few notes from me on the batteryPOP blog will clue you in.

So, again -- check it out, vote, and come back next week for the rest of Round One!

The Kindie Rock Showdown: Coming Next Week!

Kindie Rock Showdown logo

Kindie Rock Showdown logo

As many of you readers know, for a number of years I hosted a KidVid Tournament, which featured kids music videos released over the past year competing against one another in a friendly (I think) competition.  Fans and readers voted for their favorites, March Madness-style, with one band and video being named champion.  I last hosted the competition in 2012, but I had lots of fun hosting it the six years I did so.

But no good idea ever goes away for too long, and so I'm proud to announce that starting next week, there will be an entirely new way to enjoy the tournament.  The website batteryPOP features a ton of great curated video content for kids of a variety of ages, from preschoolers to tweens -- live action, animation, educational shows, shows just for fun, music, etc.  Why "batteryPOP"?  Well, if someone watches a video and likes it, they can "POP" it -- it's like upvoting for the kindergarten set.

I think you see where I'm going with this.

That's right, starting next Monday, May 11, batteryPOP will be hosting the Kindie Rock Showdown.  For the next month, they'll be hosting showdowns between 8 great kids' musicians:

Alphabet Rockers

The Bazillions

Danny Weinkauf

Caspar Babypants

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

The Not-Its

Josh and the Jamtones

On top of that, not only will I be providing some color commentary, so will Laurie Berkner!  Yeah, that Laurie Berkner, who will give her own personal reactions to the videos.

The fun kicks off next week as the Alphabet Rockers will take on the Bazillions and Danny Weinkauf is pitted against Caspar Babypants.  The following week, starting May 18, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band will go up against Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and the Not-Its will compete against Josh and the Jamtones.  The following week will feature the semifinals featuring the most-POPped videos, with the finals the week of June 1.

So tune in to batteryPOP starting next week with your kids to find out which videos are competing, support your favorite kids' musicians, and vote for your favorite videos!  (And you can even go there this week -- really, they've got a lot of great and varied content.)

Intro to Kindie: Bill Childs (Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child)

Bill Childs and kids

Bill Childs and kids

So a month or two ago, I was talking with a fellow kids' music person about my upcoming series on best kids music albums (here's the one on best kids music albums for new parents), and he said that he'd been thinking about a similar question, of how to introduce new listeners to kids music.  He described it as the musical equivalent of an "elevator speech" -- if you only have an hour or so, how do you grab someone who's not familiar with the genre, make them want to hear more?

I thought that was an excellent idea for a new series here, and so today I'm pleased as punch to kick off this new "Intro to Kindie" series with the person whose turn of phrase sent me down this path -- Bill Childs.

Bill wears many hats in the kids music field, but the specific hat he had on when he was thinking about introducing new audiences to kindie and kids music generally was as the long-time proprietor of Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child.  His radio show will celebrate its tenth anniversary later this summer, and part of that celebration includes a new flagship radio station, Austin's KUTX.  Starting May 9, STR will air on Sundays at 6 PM, and Bill's been thinking a lot about what will air that first episode and beyond.

While more folks will be sharing their lists as part of this series in the weeks and months to come, I'm really happy to have Bill lead this off.

When Stefan suggested that I kick off this series, I was super excited, and then I realized… oh dear, this is a tough project.  So instead of actually tackling that project, I’ve just included the songs I’ve picked for the first two weeks of Spare the Rock airing on KUTX here in Austin, which is probably just about the same thing.  

Let me start it off with some caveats:

  • This isn’t my “best of family music.”
  • The songs I picked don’t (necessarily) represent the songs I like best of those artists.
  • It’s not even necessarily a definitive introduction to our show!  You’d have to also listen to the non-kids’ songs I included for that (plus the in-studios — we had Mates of State and Carrie Rodriguez for the first two weeks).  
  • The playlist for our second week on KUTX is still in flux, so what you see below might not even represent what I claim it represents.
  • There are many — many, many — artists I could have included and felt great about including, so anyone’s absence from this shouldn’t be read as anything.  At all.  Top of my head: Okee Dokee Brothers, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, Mister G, Mista Cookie Jar, Key Wilde & Mr Clarke, Moona Luna, The Jimmies, and good lord so many more that I shouldn’t even really try, should I?  That’s a fool’s errand.
Spare the Rock on KUTX Sundays at 6 pm

Spare the Rock on KUTX Sundays at 6 pm

My goal, and I think this tracks Stefan’s request, was to put together something that would give someone new to the modern world of music for families a sense of the breadth and depth of what is in store for them, in genres, personalities, styles, tones, and so on.  This particular list is Austin-centric, since I put it together specifically to welcome an Austin audience, but I think it works for anyone.

It’s in alphabetical order.  (What, like I’m going to try ranking them?  I’m not crazy.)

Asylum Street Spankers - Sliver

The Board of Education - The Lonely Tomato

Bunny Clogs - 3 Dogs and a Pancake

CandyBand - Down By The Bay

Jonathan Coulton - The Princess Who Saved Herself

The Deedle Deedle Dees - Henry (Hudson), How Ya Gonna Find a Way

Lucky Diaz & the Family Jam Band - Pinata Attack

Frances England - Mind of My Own

Lori Henriques - The World is a Curious Place to Live

Sara Hickman - Middle of a Little Country Road

Koo Koo Kanga Roo - Shake It Well (feat. POS)

Lead Belly - Rock Island Line

Lunch Money - Tiny Dinosaurs

Elizabeth McQueen - This Little Piggy

Milkshake - Baltimore

Elizabeth Mitchell - Lovely Day

Willie Nelson - Won’t You Ride in My Little Red Wagon

The Pop Ups - Outside Inside

Ralph’s World - The Great Outdoors

Justin Roberts - Meltdown

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo - Gotta Be Me

Shine & the Moonbeams - High Five

Sippy Cups - Springtime Fantastic

They Might Be Giants - Thinking Machine (and others)

Dan Zanes & Friends - Side by Side (feat. Father Goose)

Interview: Adam Levy (Bunny Clogs)

Bunny Clogs (photo by Youa Vang)

Bunny Clogs (photo by Youa Vang)

Adam Levy made his first foray into the world of kids music with his band Bunny Clogs way back in late 2008 with the album More! More! More!.  (That band name, by the way?  It's a pun on Levy's primary musical outlet, his band The Honeydogs.)  That debut album had a distinctive, eclectic sound and some out-of-nowhere lyrics and musical tidbits, aided no doubt by the fact that Levy created the album with assistance from his two daughters, grade schoolers at the time.

Fast-forward six years or so.  Levy's daughters are in or approaching high school, and the follow-up album I'd never expected would happen showed up.  Whales Can't Whistle is maybe a little more streamlined, slightly poppier than its predecessor, but nobody would ever mistake the new album for bland, cookie-cutter music.

Levy recently sent some thoughts via e-mail about the latest album, musical parenting memories, and the good and bad of making an album (and playing live) with your kids.

Zooglobble: What are your first musical memories (growing up)?

Adam Levy: My parents didn't have a big record collection... but what they had got played a lot.  I used to dance/march around the house with a Monkees ukelele guitar, air uke-ing to Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass's "Going Places."  My hip Aunt Judy brought Rubber Soul to my folks in 1967.  That got major air time for a few years.

What are your first parenting musical memories?

Big sister Esther was breach in her mom's stomach.  We put Bach cello preludes on headphones to mom's belly for a few days and she flipped around... the girls' mom and I listened to music constantly.  Lots of old funk and soul.  I remember my girls going bananas for Fountains of Wayne's "Red Dragon Tattoo."

How did the first Bunny Clogs album come about?  What inspired you to make that album?

I had just gotten my first ProTools studio rig set up at home in 2003.  Esther would have been about 4 and Ava Bella 2.  I would try to entertain the girls as I was figuring out the equipment and would make these danceable, amusing kids' songs.  The girls would chime and sing and giggle and I'd record everything and made it a family affair.  I kept writing these songs in the midst of, and as a break from, more "serious" musical endeavors.  Friends would come over with kids for dinner and I'd play them the songs and folks would laugh and the kids would jump around like little squirmies.  After a while I just thought, "maybe I have something" -- the songs were more absurdist, dance-beat and adult-friendly, less acoustic-folky than most kids' music.  It alwasy took a back seat to my main songwriting muse, The Honeydogs... but eventually I just resolved to finish it and put it out in 2009.

Whales Can't Whistle album cover

Whales Can't Whistle album cover

What led you to make Whales Can't Whistle an animal kingdom-themed album?

We made a food-related record for the first one.  I always incorporate the household characters and stories and silly phrases we used into the music.  We are very into animals at our house and have been since the girls were small.  I find it easier to write when I create some parameters and goals.

Your daughters were actively involved in making this new album -- what was their biggest contribution?  Was Isaac's participation anticipated, or more of a surprise?

The girls are singing all over the record.  Ava Bella (14) even recorded herself in some cases!  She also designed the cover art. Isaac's participation was a necessity.  He's 12 and a natural.  He plays like an adult.  Amazing.

What was it like having your daughters participate so much in what you do as a career?  I'm assuming it was lots of fun, but did it also lead to tensions at times?

It's amazing.  We've been performing publicly together since they were about 10 (Esther) and 8 (Ava Bella).  Sometimes I have to encourage them to perform by increasing pay... sometimes they are not up for it.  They tease me a lot.  I get back at them by being a complete dork on  stage.  Ava Bella who is 14 now has expressed more interest in music than her big sister.  I have loved watching her do musical things that are not with family.  

You wear many different musical hats -- what particular musical itch does Bunny Clogs let you scratch?

Bunny Clogs fills a need to simply have fun making music and sharing it with my own children.  Much of my music is conceptual, cerebral and sometimes deals with serious subjects.  After I lost my son in 2012, the need to find joy in the midst of great grief and life-reassessment became very necessary.  Last summer the girls spent a couple months leisurely making the record.  We had so much fun.

Bunny Clogs (photo by Youa Vang)

Bunny Clogs (photo by Youa Vang)

What 3 (or 1 or 5) "not-for-kids" albums (from any artist) did your kids absolutely groove to growing up?

As I mentioned, the house the girls grew up in oozed music... all of The Beatles stuff.  They have fond memories of Burt Bacharach's Butch Cassidy soundtrack.  The Jackson 5.  

What's next for Bunny Clogs (and you)?

I'd love to do some kind of animated film [and/or] a book.  Depending on the girl's energy, perhaps more touring.    As mentioned I'm ready to be Reuben Kincaid to Ava Bella's musical projects.

Photos by Youa Vang.