I got the following e-mail a few days back...
Hello from a Maine homeschooling Mom... My 8-year-old son has the incredible opportunity to drive from Maine to Mississippi next month with his grandparents. I'm putting together some 'on the road' school for him including short studies of each state he will go through. I'm wondering if there are albums that feature different regional music in the USA? Or, if you could recommend at good blues album for kids so that they can celebrate properly once they are in Mississippi.Unlike many "Readers Who Need Readers" segments, I was able to answer the question (in part) -- click through to see my response, which comes with some help -- and offer some more suggestions to fill in the gaps.
I responded by saying... "I don't have a good single album to suggest, at least not for your trip. Your best blues bet is probably a Leadbelly album fromSmithsonian Folkways (review); there are a number of them from him, though. Smithsonian Folkways, actually, is probably your best bet for trying to find regional music. It won't necessarily be a "kids" album, but they've done a good job of trying to collect regional sounds. They're not the only ones, I'm sure, but I've always found their liner notes and selections to be top-notch.
I know that Taj Mahal has done a couple kids' albums, and they're certainly blues-y, but I don't know if they're quite what you're looking for.
You might want to get the Little Mo McCoury bluegrass album, too, especially if their path takes 'em through Kentucky or Tennessee."
I also copied Gwyneth on the e-mail, since her memory is often better than mine, and she offered the following:
"I started thinking, and kept thinking of New Orleans stuff, which won't help all that much, I guess :)
-- Kid Pan Alley might have some music to fit.
-- Eve and Mare are a bit "southern".
-- Or maybe some Appalachian music.
-- I'm also thinking of Ella Jenkins or Dan Zanes and their "work songs" might fit to tell the story of the south.
-- Some more Bluegrass."
My final thoughts were that:
-- Yeah, I kept thinking of New Orleans albums, too.
-- The Kid Pan Alley CD, while it doesn't really tell the story of Nashville, is a good "Nashville-sounding" disk. (In a good way.)
-- And Another sort of bluegrass disk (with a lot of folk thrown in) is Timmy Abell's "Little Red Wagon" (Timmy's from the Asheville, NC area).
So, fine readers -- have I (we) missed any kid-friendly albums that you think epitomize regional sounds at their best?