Video: "Froggie Went a Courtin'" - Caspar Babypants

It's a little hard to hear because of his history with the pop-punk Presidents of the United States of America, and because his Caspar Babypants project has such a whimsical pop sensibility, but Chris Ballew's work as Caspar Babypants is very, very folk.  His originals generally have a simple core, easily replicable as sung work by the novice.  And he's very committed to reworking folk song classics and giving them new life.

Jump for Joy album cover

Jump for Joy album cover

For "Froggie Went a Courtin'," perhaps the hoariest of folk song chestnuts, Ballew ditches the amphibian's sword and pistol, and replaces them with a ring and bouquet -- because Froggie's asking to get married, duh.  It's not that this new version is any better than the thousands that have come before it (though it's better than a lot of them), but his willingness to make the song his one is folk as anything.

The song is on his forthcoming album Jump for Joy! (out August 18), and as with many of his videos, features Ballew's own drawings.  (Look for Beatle John.)

Caspar Babypants - "Froggie Went a Courtin'" [YouTube]

Video: "Hambone" - Jazzy Ash feat. Uncle Devin (World Premiere!)

Swing Set album cover

Swing Set album cover

I'm excited for Jazzy Ash's newest album Swing Set to reach the public's ears in a couple weeks, but in the meantime you can get a taste of the jazz-inspired set for your favorite preschooler right now in this world premiere video.  It's for the well-known call-and-response song "Hambone" and features Washington, DC kindie artist Uncle Devin.

Jazzy Ash and Uncle Devin at Big Ego.

Jazzy Ash and Uncle Devin at Big Ego.

Now normally I'm not a huge fan of studio-based videos, but I really like how in this one the viewer can see how album tracks are really recorded.  Instead of band members all facing in the same direction, no music stands to be found, this one feels real -- Devin with his lyrics written out on a piece of paper singing out the call while he's hand-clapping, Jazzy Ash (aka Ashli Christoval) closing her eyes trying to focus on her response, and in the back Sarah Reich, who sometimes performs with Postmodern Jukebox, stomping.  (Anthony Shadduck is the bassist, similarly concentrating.)  It's a learning experience, even if the video isn't necessarily meant to be.

Anyway, I really like the song.  (That's always a big one for me.)  And as for the track itself, Christoval notes that,

The “Hambone” rhythm is based on the West African hand-clapping tradition called Juba, which was carried to the U.S. by slaves. The “Hambone” lyrics were added later, as a reflection of the early African-American experience. Because the song is passed on through oral tradition, there are many versions of the lyrics, some more “family friendly” than others. Almost all versions have a similar theme: A man has had a long, hard day. He’s reflecting on things he wish he had. Then, he sits down to a big meal and gobbles it right up!

Swing Set is out July 21.

Jazzy Ash - "Hambone" feat. Uncle Devin [YouTube]

Photo credit: Brock Christoval

Monday Morning Smile: "I Was Born" - Hanson

Just a great pop song from the band Hanson, a song that in its celebration of individuality and the need to be, well, you, could easily be a kindie song.  A video that features a bunch of kids (11 of the trio's 12 kids) -- this could easily be a kindie video.  The song isn't quite as good as the twenty-years-old "MMMBop," but what song is?  The fact that this new song is in the same ballpark speaks volumes about the earworm-y nature of the track.

Hanson - "I Was Born" [YouTube]

Video: "Mr. Pickle" - Michael and the Rockness Monsters

Let's face it, the era of silly novelty songs is pretty much over -- really, the presence of the occasional "What Does the Fox Say?" is a case of the exception proving the rule.  The only outlet at this point is Dr. Demento who continues to produce a weekly online radio show featuring, no doubt, plenty of songs that are silly but not necessarily solely comedic in intent.

So I sort of think that Michael and the Rockness Monsters' "Mr. Pickle" (off Funny Faces) would be an excellent addition to an upcoming Dr. Demento playlist.  The song features the nasally ramblings of the titular character and his musings on his way to leading the pickle parade.  And that's about it.  No homilies about changing the world, or feeling good about yourself, or standing up to bullies.  Just a song about a talking pickle.  And now, a video that gives visual life to those silly lyrics.  Bless 'em, we need a few more songs like that.  And maybe Dr. Demento back on the radio.

Michael and the Rockness Monsters - "Mr. Pickle" [YouTube]

Video: "Txoria Txori" - Sonia De Los Santos

This song from Sonia De Los Santos, "Txoria Txori," is a wistful ballad about setting free a caged bird off her fine 2015 album Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León To The New York Island (one of my ten great Spanish-language kids music albums).  All else being equal, I'm probably less inclined to feature a video for a ballad than a rip-roarin' pop tune, even for a ballad I like, but exceptions can always be made, and so for this video I will.

Even though the album from which the lullaby is taken is primarily in Spanish (and English), "Txoria Txori" is actually sung in the Basque language of Euskera.  For the video, De Los Santos traveled to Spain and was filmed walking around Bilbao and other parts of Basque Country.  There are some truly lovely surroundings De Los Santos and her bandmates find herself in -- the whole thing could easily be part of a travel campaign.  Worth it for the voice and the glimpse into another part of the world.

Sonia De Los Santos - "Txoria Txori" [YouTube]

The (Mostly) Compleat Foreverywhere (plus Steve Burns Interview!)

Foreverywhere album cover

Foreverywhere album cover

We're big fans of StevenSteven's Foreverywhere around these parts, so because lead Steven Steve Burns recently answered a handful of questions about the album, I thought it'd be worth the time to put together the set of videos Burns and co-Steven Steven Drozd put together for the album alongside Burns' responses.

It's just such a fun album, y'all, including the 3-song arc across the entire album telling the story of a princess and a very persistent unicorn.  You can read my review of the album (linked above) for some background on the long and winding road the duo's taken to get to this point, but at this point, enjoy the interview and the music and visuals.

Zooglobble: What was the final push or change that let this long-germinating album out into the world?

Steve Burns: We finally just said "let's do it ourselves".  It seemed like such a shame to let it fester indefinitely in the ether...and I figured it made sense with the 20th anniversary of Blue's Clues

StevenSteven - "A Fact Is a Gift That You Give Your Brain [YouTube[Note: I love this song and video so much.]

Steve Burns in concert

Steve Burns in concert

What was your motivation behind writing the three Unicorn / Princess Rainbow songs?  Did you want to tell that story and find you just couldn’t fit it into one song?  Did you want to write some songs that could fit over the arc of an album?

I really want to do something that told a story, sort of like Puff the Magic Dragon or Ziggy Stardust or Harry Nillson's "The Point". I've always loved narrative music- it's something The Flaming Lips do so well for example. We also want to take deliberately established kids entertainment "cliches" like rainbow and unicorns and sort of give them an unexpected rock and roll upgrage...if that makes sense.  Also for the record, we've been doing the whole unicorn thing since about 2008, Starbucks.

StevenSteven - "The Unicorn and Princess Rainbow" [YouTube]

The album features some very “serious” songs and some very silly ones -- how did you think about how to fit them together on the album, and whether or not they’d fit together at all?

I think if there's a thread that runs through the songs, it's about never giving up. From The Lonely Unicorn, to the song about bullying, to the one about the toilet bowl, there's a strong theme of determination and courage on the album. At least I hope there is!!!

StevenSteven - "OK Toilet Bowl" [YouTube]

Photo credit: Jeremy Slutskin