Free Music for Valentine's Day (2017 Edition)

I haven't tried to put together a list of kids songs for Valentine's Day, mostly because songs about love, while not necessarily 85% of all songs like it seems music for adults can be, make up not a small portion of kindie output.

Luckily, Beth Blenz-Clucas with Sugar Mountain PR has put together a list of songs appropriate for Valentine's Day which have the added bonus of being free for the downloading for a limited time.  That's right, through Valentine's Day itself, next Tuesday, you can gather for your family a nice selection of tracks from artists like Justin Roberts, Recess Monkey, Little Miss Ann, Frances England, Raffi, Lucky Diaz and more.

You can play the entire playlist below, and, through Valentine's Day, click through to get the free download.

Video: "Potato Leek Soup" - Django Jones

It's been awhile since Django Jones released their 2014 album D Is for Django, but not too long ago they released a video for one of my favorite songs on the album, "Potato Leek Soup," a brief but earnest power ballad promoting, well, potato leek soup.  (Think of it as the savory version of The Verve Pipe's "Cereal", I guess.)

Anyway, the video features real potato heads and, even better, leek puppets.  I'm serious, folks, it's worth 90 seconds of your time to see leek puppets sing.  (Also, stick around for the closing credits.)

Django Jones - "Potato Leek Soup" [YouTube]

Songs for Groundhog Day

Exactly a decade ago, I published a list of songs for Groundhog Day.  "List" is a little overstating things -- it was exactly three songs long.

But now I've expanded the list by more than 100%!  It's now seven songs long.  [Ed.: With a few suggestions below and on social media, we're up to double-digits!]  Which, to be frank, is probably reasonable for the relatively minor holiday that is Groundhog Day.  But there's some good stuff here.  Unfortunately my very favorite groundhog-themed song, "I Hog the Ground," isn't available on Spotify, but the other six tracks are.

If you've got further suggestions, let me know in the comments.  But do it quick before Punxsutawney Phil is called upon!

"I Hog the Ground (Groundhog Song)" - Steve Burns / Steven Drozd (watch here)

"Oh Groundhog" - Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell

"Groundhog" - Red Yarn

"Shadow" - Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights

"The Groundhog Song (How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck?)" - Daria

"How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck?" - Danny Adlerman and Friends

"Groundhog" - Sam Hinton

"A Shadow" - Gustafer Yellowgold

"The Groundhog's Lament" - Mr. Richard and the Pound Hounds

"Groundhog Day" - John McCutcheon

"Staten Island Chuck" - The Rock-A-Silly Band

Video: "Bird-Watcher Watching" - Billy Kelly

My First Comedy Album cover

My First Comedy Album cover

I once called Billy Kelly the Funniest Person in Kids Music, and that was against some tough competition.

So the release of My First Comedy Album, Kelly's (not my), er, first comedy album, while a departure, wasn't exactly a surprise.  I wouldn't exactly call it "kids' comedy," but in its good nature, curse-free patter, and being devoid of first-date and airplane food jokes, it's certainly kid-adjacent.

You could stream the entire album to see if it makes you or kids chuckle or guffaw or chortle -- man, those are some great words -- but what if you only have about 40 seconds?  Then I'd recommend his "Bird-Watcher Watching" bit, helpfully animated by Kelly himself, below.

Billy Kelly - "Bird-Watcher Watching" [YouTube]

59th Grammy Award Nominations for Best Children's Album

... or, as I call it, the final victory of kindie.

Last month, the nominations for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards were announced, and while I continue to be less than completely convinced of the value of Grammy awards for kids music, there's no doubt that the awards are still considered a Big Deal throughout the recorded music industry, kids' musicians included.

First, let's list the five nominees in the category of Best Children's Album:

Explorer of the World cover

Explorer of the World cover

Explorer of the World

Frances England

Frances England Music

Infinity Plus One cover

Infinity Plus One cover

Infinity Plus One

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

Underground Records

Novelties album cover

Novelties album cover


Recess Monkey

Recess Monkey

Press Play cover

Press Play cover

Press Play

Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could

Bumblin' Bee Records

Saddle Up cover

Saddle Up cover

Saddle Up

The Okee Dokee Brothers

Okee Dokee Music


The Grammy Awards will be announced on Sunday, February 12 -- the biggest awards in the evening, the rest of the awards (including this category) that afternoon.  And unlike most of the nominees, the kids' nominees take the opportunity to play a benefit concert the Saturday the day before the concert.  This year, the concert is on Saturday the 11th, and if you've got kids and live in Los Angeles, it's worth checking out getting tickets.  (You can read more about the history here.)  I went to last year's concert, and, yeah, it's a good time -- the public is unlikely to get to hear these five artists play together.

The annual Grammy weekend has also become the closest West Coast analogue to KindieFest/Kindiecomm, thanks to an annual industry-only luncheon also held on Saturday the day before the awards ceremonies.  This year is no exception (details here), and for those musicians who haven't had a chance to attend either the Grammy-related luncheon or the East Coast gatherings, it's definitely worth considering whether a day or two in the L.A. area might be within your budget.

I've been writing this site for more than 12 years, and when I started, the word "kindie" hadn't even been coined.  Yes, artists like Dan Zanes, Laurie Berkner, and Justin Roberts had released multiple albums, and of course artists like Trout Fishing in America, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer and Raffi were walking along the paths Pete Seeger, Ella Jenkins, and others had created.

When I researched the Grammy nominations for the kids music awards (non-spoken word) handed out in February 2004 and February 2005, bookending the start of this site, I was a little surprised to see that it wasn't a collection of Disney retreads -- both years are pretty solid collections of albums from artists familiar to this site.

But I think it's fair to say that those lists come more from a folk-music tradition with some gentle pop thrown in.  I think that the Dan Zanes nod in 2005 is the only album that could safely plant both feet in the "kindie" tradition as it's been most popularly understood -- pulling in rock and other musical traditions beyond folk and pop, and not dependent upon music labels for funding and distribution.

This list, on the other hand, while pulling in elements of folk music and pop, feels like its heart comes from indie rock and some hip-hop.  At this point Brady Rymer (nominated for multiple Grammys) and the Okee Dokee Brothers (winners and nominated multiple times) seem like Grammy royalty, and only Rymer had released an album before 2005.

And unlike lists of recent years, on which Rymer, the Okee Dokee Brothers, and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo had previously appeared, there was no "exception" this year.  No non-kids artist making an album for kids, no spoken-word recitation of a book, no... nothing.  Just five artists all easily described as kindie stars, with roughly 35 albums for kids between them.  I don't want to say it's the perfect "kindie" list, because that implies a qualitative hierarchical distinction that I'm not trying to make.  But I'm not sure I could come up with a list that is... more kindie (as it's currently defined in terminology and example) than this one.

I don't want to say "my work here is done," but I think it's fair to say that one of my goals when I started this site more than a dozen years ago -- raising the visibility of great kids music that drew upon a broad range of musical styles -- has been accomplished.  I'm not taking credit for any of it -- that belongs to the artists themselves -- but I think it's time for me to think (again) about how to further expand the visibility of kids audio to an even wider audience, and to think (much more) about how to further expand who creates kids audio to an even wider creator base.  Because the two are related, and the two are how when we talk about kids music a dozen years from now, somebody will talk about a Grammy list that builds upon the paths the Okee Dokee Brothers and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo further blazed, but doesn't include them, either.