A number of months ago, someone e-mailed me and suggested I check out the kids music of Boston-area musician Wayne Potash. She said that he was (and I'm quoting here), "completely lacking in hip-ness... His band is called 'The Music Fun Band' which is one of the stupidest names I’ve ever heard of, and Wayne looks like a hippie freak wearing a fish hat.
However, if you can get past that, he’s an amazing musician for little kids."
Well, those of you who have read me for any length of time know that those are exactly the kinds of things I can get past. (I don't think I ever had a fish hat, but did have a bag that looked like a trout, so there you go.)
And if you can get past those things (and the not-terribly-inspiring album cover, too), his 2005 album Don't Forget the Donut! might just be up your alley. From goofy little songs like "Stunt Car" and "Wiggly Tooth" to breezy reworkings of classics like "When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along" and "The Frim Fram Sauce," Potash has a relaxed attitude that serves the music well. He's not trying to remake children's music, he's just having some fun.
Not that the music isn't well-played. Potash mixes some jazz (the classic tracks above) with some bluegrass ("Hot Corn, Cold Corn", "Cindy") along with some poppier originals like the groovy "Lobster Dance." His duet with Suzanne Clark on "Down in the Valley" is -- dare I say it? -- better than Dan Zanes. I liked Potash most in his quieter, folkier moments, such as on "Street Sweeper," as opposed to the more '70s guitar-oriented stuff at the end of the album (it's about 8-10 minutes too long), but it's all done without pretension. (Proof of that is the ended-by-laughter version of "Haul Away Joe.")
Kids ages 3 through 7 will enjoy these songs the most. You can hear samples of all the tracks at the 48-minute album's CDBaby page. Yes, the album is 3 years old at this point, but he's also working on a new CD.
Wayne Potash isn't trying to set the kids music world on fire, he's just covering some good traditional and classic songs and writing decent original music. Don't Forget the Donut! might not become your family's most favorite album, but I can see it lasting in the CD player long after other CDs have worn out their welcome. As my original e-mail tipster said, "he doesn’t rock, exactly. He’s extremely uncool. And yet, he’s pretty amazing, either despite those things or perhaps because of them." I think those of you out there know if that applies to your family. Recommended.