It is waaaay too easy to dismiss Raffi as the purveyor of bad children's music based purely on reputation. That is, if you've never actually heard his early work. His first album, Singable Songs For The Very Young, is a landmark of the children's genre, a genre that arguably didn't exist in any meaningful way until Raffi came along. And his second album, More Singable Songs, while not earning any awards for album-title creativity, is no less vital. The album title doesn't promise much variation from the first album, and the music bears that out, but in a good way. Raffi blends traditional kids' favorites ("Comin' Down the Chimney," "Six Little Ducks") with folk standards ("Workin' On the Railroad," "New River Train") and originals ("Shake My Sillies Out," "If I Had a Dinosaur"). There are very few "messages" in the songs, and even those are slid in ("Oh Me Oh My," which at the very end becomes as articulate an argument for self-sufficient singing as anything Dan Zanes has recorded). The instrumentation is generally simple, but bringing in, when the need arises, a tuba, say, or pedal steel guitar played by Daniel Lanois (or "Dan," as he was known in his pre-U2 and Emmylou Harris days). The comments from my review of the first album apply here, too -- best for kids aged 2-6 and too short at less than 30 minutes. (I keep thinking that Rounder could make a lot of money by combining these two CDs into one CD and adding some bonus tracks for the completists. If there are Raffi completists, the notion of which strikes me as very odd.) This is another children's music classic. Available at the usual suspects online and off-.
There was a nice little article in Friday's Chicago Tribune on Justin Roberts' approach to preparing for a concert. Since he often sings in the morning, he "relies heavily on caffeine, starting his morning with a bowl of cereal with soy milk and several shots of espresso," a pre-concert routine that is, I suspect, not that of a typical rocker's. The article notes that he's currently recording songs for his next album, Meltdown!, for an early 2006 release.