Hullabaloo is a two-man band based in the San Diego area, but their sound on their 2006 album Sing Along With Sam made me think they live a bit too far south. I can't shake the idea that these guys have a great album reminiscent of the Bakersfield country sound made famous by Buck Owens and, later, Dwight Yoakam.
I wouldn't extend the comparison too far, of course, but their willingness to mix a lot of country in with their folk and rock sounds makes Hullabaloo a bit different from many of the kids and family musicians out there. The album includes a lot of songs about animals, some silly ("Diamonds and Dogs") and some not much so ("Run Bunny Run," the best kids' rocker never written in the late 1950s). The 27-minute album is laced with the band's good humor, with the opening track "Mama Llama" and closing track, the oft-covered "Mama Don't Allow," doing a good job of highlighting that good humor. The downside of the album is that although band members Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer are talented musicians, it's hard to generate a lot of musical variety with just two musicians, so there's not much to interest the listener on weaker tracks such as "Mary Ann."
The album's songs are targeted mostly at kids ages 3 through 7. You can hear samples of some of the songs at the band's music page.
With its good-natured attitude and West Coast feel, Sing Along With Sam will especially appeal to families looking for something different from run-of-the-mill kids' pop or folk. As for me, I think Hullabaloo should head north to Bakersfield and see if Buck Owens' backing band is interested in helping out on a track or two on their next CD.