Category Archives: Music Reviews

Camp Songs with Ella Jenkins and Friends

Camp songs and the memories that come with them are the things that make this world go ’round. Ella Jenkins’ CD, released today, comes at the perfect time when kids are off at camp and counselors are working hard to keep those kids happy.

camp songs

This CD, which includes a book of lyrics, will do the trick. It’s got wonderful standards like Kumbaya, This Land is Your Land, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, and This Little Light of Mine. The rest of the songs and sweet little reflections of camp memories from Ella make this collection a must have. And we know she’s got some good stories. After all, she turns 93 in August!

We were happy to donate this CD to St. Francis in the Field‘s “Happy Campers” camp for  ages 3-6 this week. I hope the music helped them imagine and explore the beautiful outdoors!

camp songs

Thank you to Sugar Mountain PR for our complimentary copy in exchange for this review.

Starting today, June 23, the entire album will be available for sale via the Folkways site, Amazon, and iTunes.
Here is more from Sugar Mountain PR:
“Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Releases
‘Camp Songs with Ella Jenkins and Friends’ on June 23

Washington, DC – Ella Jenkins, The First Lady of Children’s Music, celebrates 60 years as a Smithsonian Folkways artist with the release of Camp Songs with Ella Jenkins and Friends,” out June 23. Jenkins has wanted to record camp songs for more than 15 years and assembled a group of children, parents, and teachers from the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, along with Tony and Kate Seeger from Camp Killooleet, to sing these rounds, nonsense songs and campfire sing-alongs. The 25-track collection includes familiar camp songs “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” “Kumbaya” and “This Land Is Your Land.”  

Many of the tunes on “Camp Songs with Ella Jenkins and Friends” have been sung by generations of campers, including many of the 14 million children and adults who attend camp every year in the United States. The album has its roots in the songs Jenkins’ brother brought home with him from Boy Scout camp when she was a child, and begins with a chorus of children singing the familiar round “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” But these selections come from a variety of traditions, among them African-American spirituals, European folk songs, and Jewish summer camps where Jenkins has performed. “Everybody Loves Saturday Night” has lines in a dozen languages, including Mandarin, Hindi, Serbian and Nigerian. The album’s final five numbers, which include “Sloop John B.” and “Goodnight Irene,” are sequenced to resemble a campfire sing-along.

“Camp Songs with Ella Jenkins and Friends” was produced by Tony Seeger, nephew of folk-music icon Pete Seeger. Tony Seeger also wrote the included liner notes and lyric annotations for all the songs in the 36-page booklet that accompanies the album. Throughout the album, Jenkins sings and plays harmonica, often offering reminiscences and spoken-word introductions to the songs.

Though Jenkins takes the lead on “Sipping Cider Through a Straw,” she is almost everywhere on this recording — singing, harmonica playing, teaching, reflecting about camp, engaging with children and their parents, and of course in the selection of the songs. Jenkins is joined in her performances by 13 children and a group of adults that includes Erin Flynn; Bucky Halker; Judy, Kate, and Tony Seeger; Barbara Silverman; and Chris Walz. At its core, this is a collection of music by and with children.

Jenkins, who turns 93 in August, has devoted her life to instilling a love of music in children. She released her first album for Folkways in 1957, and her 1966 album “You’ll Sing a Song and I’ll Sing a Song” remains one of the best-selling titles in the history of Smithsonian Folkways. She received a Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award from The Recording Academy in 2004.  The Old Town School of Folk Music is organizing a tribute concert at the Square Roots Festival in Chicago on July 8. For more information about Ella Jenkins, visit www.ellajenkins.com.”

feeling good

Feeling Good with Chicago’s Mr. Dave!

Feeling Good with Chicago’s Mr. Dave!

My family is headed to Chicago in July. Great things always come from Chicago, including Mr. Dave. What a unique sound.  He’s Tom Petty for little people!

feeling good

We are partial to the slower and heartfelt songs…Song in All of Us, Questions, and I Will Share. We are always suckers for a great message and melody.

Mr. Dave’s new CD, Feeling Good, is available this Friday June 9th at CDBaby.com, iTunes, and the Mr. Dave Music Store. We’ll put it in our itinerary to stop by his store while we’re there. What fun!

Thank you to Waldmania PR for our complimentary CD in exchange for this review.

feeling good

 

More from Waldmania PR:

“The laid back, relatable singer is a staple in Chicago’s kindie music circuit, and his performances mix classic children’s songs, covers of mainstream ditties, and original tunes.” — Red Tricycle

 
“Indie kid act Mr. Dave belts out catchy tunes with traces of punk and new wave influences.” — Time Out Chicago 
CHICAGO — Praised as a “celebrity to kiddos in Chicago and for good reason,” Mr. Dave (a.k.a. Dave Hamilton) is poised to take his place on the national kindie music scene with the June 9 release of his fourth kids’/family album, Feeling Good.

Inspired by such artists as Kendrick Lamar, Paul Simon, the Beach Boys, Frank Ocean, and Dan Zanes, and produced by Grammy-nominated Jamie Candiloro (Ryan Adams, REM, Luscious Jackson, Willie Nelson), Feeling Good is a lyrical mix of upbeat, fresh, and funky tunes that are easy on adult ears and guaranteed to get the little ones movin’ and groovin’. Mr. Dave’s distinctive takes on vocal color, clarity, and balance at the mixing board, highly focused energy, and musical authenticity shine throughout each track.

The roots of Feeling Good’s irrepressible charm grow deep in the soil of Dave Hamilton’s career as lead vocalist/guitarist with the acoustic funk band 56 Hope Road.  For six years, beginning in 1998, they toured the country hitting home runs on the jam band scene, were named #1 Road Warrior Band by renowned online musical resource, JamBase.com, and gained national attention for their energetic live performances and relentless tour schedule that included hundreds of solo shows, as well as opening for such artists as Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews Band, Page McConnell of Phish, Tom Cochrane and Red Ryder, Devon Allman, Spyro Gyra, Verve Pipe, Bob Schneider, and more. 

Imbued with themes of love, learning, positivity, and activity, Feeling Good revs up the fun-o-meter with “Bamboo the Bear,” a Paul Simon-esque number that’s especially easy for kids to sing along with. Inspired by Kendrick Lamar, “Street Smarts” has lots of good information about urban safety, all delivered with an unbeatable beat. “Pelican Kid,” with its focus on diversity and acceptance, is packed with personality to the max, mixing rap and melodic elements. Influenced by the Beach Boys, “Two Wheels,” a 21st century surfer song, rides the waves of universal appeal, and the album’s title track, with a tip-of-the-hat to Dan Zanes, is an exuberant dance tune that sports a jolly, country sound.

During production of his 2014 kids’ album, Come On In, Dave Hamilton came to fully understand that he was meant to be writing and performing for kids.  This life-changing realization spurred a career change, motivating him to become a full-time kids’ musician and teacher. The metamorphosis from Dave Hamilton to Mr. Dave has been hailed by parents as “pure magic,” with his classes and shows being declared, “absolute must-do activities for the entire family.”

In 2016, Dave and his wife, Christina, opened their own children’s music studio, Mr. Dave Music, in Chicago, with the goal of bringing the joy of music into the lives of children, families and adults by providing culturally responsive instruction and creating a warm and authentic educational experience.   Mr. Dave Music is committed to innovative programming that fosters creativity and celebrates diversity through the power of music.

Previously released Mr. Dave albums include Come On In (2014), It’s Mr. Dave (2009), and Mr. Dave (2000).

Feeling Good will be available at CDBaby.com, iTunes, and the Mr. Dave Music Store, 1935 W. Division St., Chicago, IL  60622.

# # #

CD Details:  Feeling Good
Release Date:  June 9, 2017
For ages 2 – 8
Label:  Mr. Dave Music
SRP:   $15.00
Running time:  33 minutes

# # #

Visit Mr. Dave’s website HERE.

Mr. Dave on Facebook.

  Mr. Dave on Instagram.

  Mr, Dave on Youtube.

feeling good

Rock n Roll With Your Kids and Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights!

Rock n Roll With Your Kids and Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights!

rock n roll

Joanie and her Nightlights ride the Subway, get a Library Book, and enjoy some good Pizza in their new eclectic collection, Brooklyn Baby! Each song takes you by surprise with its tempo, style, and lyrics. You never know what you’re gonna get and we love it! They bring the tempo down with the soft sounds and lovely lyrics in Brooklyn Baby and Love is Love. Their messages of love, acceptance, and world peace make this CD one of our all time favorites. Well done, Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights. We appreciate you.

Thank you to Waldmania PR for our complimentary copy in exchange for this review. Brooklyn Baby is available this Friday May 19th!

rock n roll

 

More from Waldmania PR:

“From her roots as a theater major and performer in the hip clubs of New York City, Joanie Leeds has proved herself as a major talent in the field of children’s music.”
— Parents’ Choice® Gold Award review of Joanie Leeds’ Good Egg

“THE BEST KIDS’ ALBUMS NOW!  Leeds and her band bring big fun on their new release.  Don’t attempt a family road trip without this minivan-friendly winner.”
— People magazine
 

NEW YORK — Six years ago, award-winning singer/songwriter Joanie Leeds packed her bags and moved from Manhattan’s Upper West Side to the vibrant, artistic neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Here she found not only a place to start a family, but also a magnificent melting pot metropolis that offered dazzling adventures on a daily basis.  Inspired by her love for all things Brooklyn, Joanie will release her eighth family album, Brooklyn Baby!, on May 19.

Produced by Jesse Lauter (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Elvis Perkins, Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket), Brooklyn Baby! is a real genre-bender, containing elements of folk, Southern rock, hip hop, pop and punk presided over by a singer whose sheer command of vocal artistry is second to none.

Songs about the park system (“Ferry Nice”), public transportation (“Subway”) and Brooklyn’s most famous dish (“Pizza”) are a given, but the heart of the album embraces both a Brooklyn mentality and sentimentality with love (“Love is Love”), thirst for education (“Library Book”), healthy eating (“Apples in My Apples”), and Yiddish expressions (“Shayne Punim”). The album closes with Joanie’s take on Brooklyn-born Lou Reed’s gentle tune, “Sunday Morning.”

Gifted with a soulful, “rock solid” voice that ranges from low and bluesy to high, light, and breezy, Joanie Leeds is an exceptionally versatile artist who brings serious musicianship to the table right alongside a terrific sense of fun and fashion.  Says SiriusXM’s Kids Place Livehost Mindy Thomas, “Joanie Leeds is that cool babysitter who would let you try on her lip gloss once your mom left the house.  You idolized her, and your mom knew she could trust her.  That’s Joanie.  Only she’s also likely to completely ROCK THE ROOF OFF YOUR HOUSE!”

Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights have performed in dozens of cities nationwide at such prominent venues as The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Smithsonian, the CMAs, the Hang Out Festival, Symphony Space, Wolf Trap, and LA’s Skirball Center.

Joanie Leeds’ original kids’ music won first place in the USA Songwriting Competition, as well as winning an Independent Music Award, Parents’ Choice® Gold Award, NAPPA Gold Award, and Family Choice Award, and Joanie was a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the International Songwriting Competition.  Joanie’s music has been highly praised in People magazine, Parents Magazine, The New York Times and The Washington Post.  Her tunes are played on many radio stations nationwide and have climbed the chart to #1 on SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live and WXPN’s Kids Corner. Joanie is also a PJ Library musician!

Prior to Brooklyn Baby!, Joanie Leeds released seven critically acclaimed, full-length albums and two full-length DVDs, in addition to numerous videos on her Youtube channel.  She is currently at work on more music videos, while maintaining a busy teaching and performance schedule.

Brooklyn Baby! will be available online at www.joanieleeds.com, Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby, TuneCore, and other related digital outlets.

# # #

CD Details:  Brooklyn Baby!
Release Date:  May 19, 2017
For ages 4 – 9
Label:  Limbostar
SRP:   $15.00 for CD.  $9.99 for digital download.
Running time:  43 minutes

jump and jam

Jump and Jam with Dana!

This Friday, April 14th, you and your little ones can jump and jam with Dana! Dana’s Best Jump & Jam Tunes will be available from Music Playground, as well as a series of music videos and a concert in Bellingham, WA. This collection is perfect for the family living room dance parties, pre-school circle time, and just jammin’ in the car on summer vacation. Thank you to Sugar Mountain PR for our complimentary copy in exchange for this review.

jump and jam

 

More from Sugar Mountain PR:

“Blaine, WA,  March 15, 2017 – Dana, a singer, songwriter and educator whose music has earned 17 national awards and acclaim from critics and families alike, leaps back into the scene with a brand-new collection of action songs for kids:Dana’s Best Jump & Jam Tunes. The album will be available from Music Playground, Amazon  and iTunes on April 15. Dana will celebrate the release with a series of music videos and a “Movin’ Musical Party” at the historic Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham, WA, also on Saturday, April 15.

 

Through her five critically lauded albums and national tours, Dana has built a reputation for inviting youngsters to get off their screens and up dancing, jumping, playing and singing. Dana’s Best Jump & Jam Tunes is her sixth highly interactive album release featuring 12 songs designed to get kids ages 1 to 7 up and moving, grooving and laughing. Wordplay, catchy melodies, and top-notch musicianship make this an engaging album for the whole family to enjoy together.

 

Produced at Beaird Music Group Studios in Nashville with top session players,Dana’s Best Jump & Jam Tunes offers a “musical party” of sound, featuring various genres, from rock to bluegrass, jazz, country and pop. Inspired by her 20-plus years of working with children and her own experiences as a mom, Dana Cohenour wrote these songs with preschoolers in mind while respecting adult ears in production and musical styles.

 

The album includes counting songs ( “Legs” and a bluegrass spin of “Five Green and Speckled Frogs”), a Latin music inspired freeze dance (“Jumping Beans”), a rock & roll “Wiggle Workout,” an egg shake (“Shakin’ Things Up”), and a jazzy jumping jive dance (“Jump & Jive”). Humor is the hallmark of Dana’s story songs (“Barnyard Hoedown” and “Fish Tale”), and she asks listeners to help make the planet smile with her inspirational “Do My Part.” Listeners are invited to clang on pots and pans with “Grandma’s Kitchen Band,” and to move like the animals in “Follow the Leader.” The album wind downs with the gentle musical hug that is “I Love Mommy.” 

 

After taking a break from recording to raise her son, Jack, Dana is pleased to be creating music for children once again. Dana tested these songs at her Music Playground classes at the Opus Performing Arts School in Bellingham, WA. From square-dancing barnyard animals to Mexican jumping beans, Dana’s tunes instantly activate her young students toward movement and imaginative play.”

zoo

Minnesota Zoo Counts on the Okee Dokee Brothers

The Minnesota Zoo made a great choice when they partnered with the Okee Dokee Brothers on a song to bring awareness to wildlife conservation. “Countin’ on Me” comes out tomorrow and highlights three of earth’s beautiful creatures: bison, butterflies, and trumpeter swans. The song sends a gentle, yet important message of environmental friendliness and conservation. It tells us repeatedly to “build this home again” and share the responsibility of respecting these animals just as we respect human life. Share this song with your little ones, as they can learn to accept this responsibility at a young age.

Thank you to Sugar Mountain PR for our sneak preview of this beautiful tune and thank you to the Okee Dokee Brothers and the Minnesota Zoo for your important collaboration.

zoo

zoo
Trumpeter swan, North America’s largest waterfowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s more from Sugar Mountain PR:

“Minneapolis, March 10, 2017 – The Minnesota Zoo and the Okee Dokee Brothers are proud to announce the release of a new single celebrating the Minnesota Zoo’s mission to save wildlife. The Minnesota Zoo commissioned “Countin’ on Me” from the Grammy Award-winning duo to serve as its conservation theme song. The lyrics poetically communicate our shared responsibility to help save wildlife, and reference three species native to Minnesota that the Minnesota Zoo has restored or is working to restore in the wild – bison, butterflies and trumpeter swans.

The commission developed from a collaboration between the Minnesota Zoo and the Okee Dokee Brothers, who share a passion for nature and a mission to encourage kids and families to explore the natural world. These common values are at the heart of their collaboration, which began in July 2015 with the opening of a nature play area and continued with several special appearances at the Minnesota Zoo by bandleaders Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander.

The single, “Countin’ on Me,” will be available for purchase on iTunes beginning March 16. All proceeds from the purchase of the single will support the Minnesota Zoo and its wildlife conservation efforts.

Justin and Joe will debut the single live at the Zoo during a special animal encounter on Saturday, March 18. Their appearance is free with Zoo admission, but due to space limitations, RSVPs are required. Learn more at www.mnzoo.org/okeedokeebrothers.

The Minnesota Zoo is a year-round destination located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. The Zoo’s mission is to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). 

As kids in Colorado, Justin and Joe grew up together exploring nearby creeks, trails, woods and rivers. Twenty years later as the Okee Dokee Brothers, they are still roaming the outdoors together, but with a mission and a couple of guitars in their packs. Now based in Minneapolis, the Grammy Award-winning folk singer-songwriters are advocates for adventure.”

The song debuts on March 16. Here are the pre-order links:

Purchase link

http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1212327648?ls=1&app=itunes

Stream Link

http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1212327648

The Minnesota Zoo made a great choice when they partnered with the Okee Dokee Brothers on a song to bring awareness to wildlife conservation.