***Max's Family Band***

When you first pop Max's Family Band into the CD player, the first thing you think is, "Man, this is like Broadway music for kids!" Well, it's not a coincidence: Gary and Yvette Negbaur have years of musical theater experience as both composers and performers, and they translate their talents into their kids' music debut album Max's Family Band. Inspired by the antics and day-to-day life of their son Max, the Negbaurs composed 15 songs for and about him that all parents can relate to, and some tunes will even get a giggle out of the grownups.

"Gobbledygookster Baby" is full of fun words, "One Sock Octopus" is entertainingly silly (hey, made me laugh!), and when it's "Haircut Time," what better style to sing about it than barbershop quartet? Dig how the swingin' verse of "Grandma Time" jumps to a doo-wop chorus, then try to follow the piano/vocal runs on "Picky," and dance to the hand jive boogie of "Rockin' Zebra."

Check out "The Color Medley," a four-song mini epic that utilizes Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles psychedelia, some Chicago blues, a little New Orleans shuffle, and a taste of hot Salsa to musically describe yellow, blue, green, and red. And on the songs "I'm Glad that You've Discovered M" and "Hello Mr. Diaper Hello" you can practically feel the heat from the footlights! Both songs would make perfect preschool stage productions, complete with tiny dancers and singers.

Max's Family Band is cute, catchy sing-along entertainment for your youngest music lover.

It's a shame...

...that a bland product like The Jonas Brothers' Lines, Vines and Trying Times has massive advertising dollars behind it and hits #1 on the Billboard Charts, while a brilliant effort like Cathy Heller's Say Hello to the Sun remains relatively unknown. Both albums are aimed at the pop music-lovin' preteen crowd, but Heller beats the big label machine at their own game, hands down. Get the word out, people: there's awesome music out there for kids!

What's on your Kids-List?

I found this great website the other day called Kids-List. It lists local activities for children and breaks them up by various age groups. I searched in my area, not sure how well-informed the results would be, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a fairly comprehensive list! You can even search based on specific catagories, such as playgroups, preschools, music, and other types of classes. I hope you'll find it to be a valuable resource for finding great local activities and some Mommy and Me fun!


I've always been kinda cynical. I mean, nothing just blew my mind, ya know? Well, when I watched this live in 1983, this.blew.my.mind. It was truly one of the few times in my life that I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Crank up the volume and try to dance along at home.

This is for my friend Brad Breath.

Best Kids' Music of 2009...

...so far! There are *lots* of great kids' CDs out this year, and I've pulled together a few of my favorites that have already hit the record store shelves. You can check out my list of Best Kids' Music of 2009 over at About.com, and then let me know who you think should be included on the year-end list.

Lord of the Dance

We are learning about Irish music in our Family Time classes right now. The lilting melody and rhythms are so much fun to move and jump to. I guess I just needed a smile today, so I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did!

Nuff Said...

Life Skills 101

When I was a child, my parents gave me a very special gift. It's a gift that I have used over and over again in my adult life. It's called life skills. At an early age, my parents began teaching me practical things like how to read a map, cooking, how to follow a budget, and a host of other things. These are skills that are not necessarily covered in a class at school, yet they are so vital to our adult success.

Now that I have children of my own, I have begun to calculate what life skills I want to pass on to them. I want them to gain the same love of music that I have, to experience Mozart to Etta James to Toby Mac and around the world and back again. I want them to learn to be responsible no matter who is watching or not. Good money management skills are definitely on the list, along with cooking, sense of direction, and "street smarts". What about common etiquette and an understanding of appropriate attire in various social settings?
We, as parents, get so consumed with giving our children a quality education. We carefully select preschools and grade schools years in advance, but are we as consumed with passing along these equally important life skills? Have you considered which skills you want to pass along to your children?

So, here's to my parents! Happy Father's Day, Dad. Mom, I love you! Thanks for giving me the life skills that I would have never found in a classroom.

***Apple Brains***

With the innocent enthusiasm of Jonathan Richman, the eclectic inventiveness of Mr. David, and the general kookiness of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Apple Brains bursts upon the kids' music scene with their debut album Get Fruity!!

L.A.-based Allen Bleyle is the brainy apple behind Apple Brains, and his free-for-all, lo-fi, indie rock style is a refreshing addition to the children's music world. Get Fruity!! is a concept album of sorts, with every track highlighting fruits, vegetables, water, and healthy eating in general. But this isn't a preachy, stick-in-the-mud, instructional album by any means: Peanut Butter and Jelly show up as characters who tell the story of how they met; a little girl carries around a mango like a baby; a little boy weeps at the wonderfulness of tomatoes. Far Out!

Get Fruity!! kicks off with the sunny anthem "Apple x3," which begins as a cheerful ode and ends as a manic scream-along, followed by the awesomely weird story tune "Peanut Butter and Jelly How They Met Song." A wobbly melody line carries "Water the Loveliest Beverage," a tune that's half informational and half tribute, then comes the ridiculously catchy (and informative!) rave-up "Ba-na-nas."

The hyper-enthusiastic sing-along "Lots of Different Colors" describes the many hues of fruits and vegetables, while "The Stone Fruit Salute" celebrates peaches, plums, cherries, and apricots with a waltzing carnival-like sound of pump organs and slide whistles. The indie pop "Growing Like Crazy" features a kazoo/keyboard sound effects solo while describing the things that help us grow, and a laid-back island groove carries the mango-worshiping tune "A Mango is a Precious Egg to be Cherished."

The bilingual "Frutero" describes looking for something good to eat while walking around Los Angeles, while the brilliantly Ween-like "Tomatoes are So Wonderful That They Make Me Want to Cry" is pretty much what the title tells you, a tune that definitely needs to find its way onto The Dr. Demento Show. The entire album features guitar work by Kyle Thomas, highlighted by the goofy acid rock of "Wonder Worm," while the key-shifting "Each and Every," a song about seeds and plants, ends the album with a laugh-out-loud verse courtesy Lucia Turino.

Now, all these songs might seem a little silly, but Bleyle is serious about his enthusiasm for good eating. Check out his gushing blog post about Adam Leith Gollner's book The Fruit Hunters, and find out how it was the inspiration for one of the Apple Brains songs. And Bleyle gets indie cred with the roster of musicians used on Get Fruity!!: members of The Devil Makes Three, Feathers, Pretend You're Happy, and Witch (Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis' side project) help sing and play on the album.

Bottom line: in a perfect world Get Fruity!! would be a massive hit on college radio stations, with its dadaist lyrics, overdriven vocal recording, stick-in-your-head melodies, lo-fi aesthetic, and generally earthy vibe. And I think our similarly musically open-minded little listeners will dig it, as well. One of the best kids' albums of 2009, and definitely one of the most unique!

***The Sippy Cups***

Psychedelic rock and roll for kids? Look no further, just jump into The Sippy Cups' Time Machine!

Check out a full review of The Time Machine by The Sippy Cups over at About.com.

Amazing feats; never before seen

Today's post really has nothing to do with music, but it has a whole lot to do with children. Actually, it's about the childhood "right of passage" of losing those baby teeth. Thanks to a sticky Sugar Daddy last night, my daughter lost one of her wiggly teeth. Over the years there have been some amazing stories associated with our tooth loss and the Tooth Fairy. There was the time my daughter lost her tooth when a neighbor's child flipped into the pool and knocked it out. It flew through the air and landed right in her hand at the water's edge. We've accidentally swallowed teeth and even had the Tooth Fairy find us all the way in a campground in Kissimmee. How does she know when the tooth is at anyway? We have speculated that she somehow smells them, but we have not been able to confirm this fact. Since we were leaving early this morning for our return trip home, my daughter left a note last night asking the Tooth Fairy to leave her coins on her seat in the car. True to her amazing "tooth fairy-ness" form, the coins were there, just as requested. I've asked my girls what they think the Tooth Fairy does with all those teeth and where she gets the money from. It's so funny to hear their ideas. My philosophy is that she sells them to the dentist to use in making false teeth. Although, I haven't been able to confirm this fact either. :-)

I enjoy asking creative questions to my children. It's a great way to work on story-telling concepts, creativity, expression, and other language and reasoning skills. Do you have any great children's stories? I hope you'll take a minute to share them here.

***Bob Marley***

Ziggy's kids' album? Tops!! Dad Bob's, with Ziggy in the executive producer's chair? Meh, and here's why...

Full review of Bob Marley's B is for Bob

***Tangerine Tambourine***

There aren't many high-profile kids' groups from Alabama, so it's extraspecially exciting when a Bama band bursts onto the children's music scene with such a solid debut CD. Tangerine Tambourine release their self-titled kids' album today on the Science Fair label, and indie rock lovers everywhere will love their mix of powerpop, country rock, and R&B influences.

Jump on over to About.com for a full review of Tangerine Tambourine.

How 'Bout Some Tangerine Tambourine First Thing In The Morning?

Here's the first single from Tangerine Tambourine, Alabama's premiere kids' band. Their self-titled debut CD drops tomorrow, so look for a full album review then.

Tangerine Tambourine - "In the Morning"

Tangerine Animation from Tangerine Tambourine on Vimeo.

and the winner is.....

Congratulations to Lavanya, our "Favorite Things" blog contest winner! It was a tight competition, but with 93 of the 195 votes, Lavanya came out on top. She will receive a Delightful Sounds prize pack with lots of fun items, including a Kindermusik CD, bilibo (pictured above), and musical instrument. A second place prize will go to Ross with 77 votes. I also did a random drawing of all contestants for a $25 Mary Kay gift certificate. This gift certificate was generously donated by Amanda Swindle, a local Mary Kay consultant, and the winner of the gift certificate was Rachel Helm. I look forward to sharing more with you about the power of music, so stay tuned for the next blog contest!

***Spiral Up Kids***

Spiral Up Kids took the jam band ensemble playing of Phish, the nouveau country rock of Son Volt, and the earthy funk of The Band to create their groovy, harmony-filled, kids' music debut Spiral Up Kids.

Georgia Weinmann, Darren Cohen, and Tim Whalen, three Hudson Valley, NY parents, decided to document the lives of their toddlers through song. They got musical help from friends and fellow Hudson Valley musicians Jason Sarubbi on bass and background vocals, Ross Rice on piano and organ, Larry Packer on fiddle and mandolin, and Robin Baker on background vocals, while Darren handled guitar duty and background vocals, with Tim on drums and lead vocals.

Highlights of Spiral Up Kids include the jam band groove of "Friends," the New Orleans shuffle of "Sugar," and the electric bluegrass of "In the Fiddle is a Song," a tune based on Durga Bernhard's picture book (she also designed the CD package). The group really channel the spirit of The Band on the vocal phrasing of "My Kitty and Me," while the sound of late-70s Crosby, Stills & Nash is revived on "Rainy Day Play."

If the H.O.R.D.E. tour was still on the road, Spiral Up Kids would be the most likely children's band to be up on stage. Solid, earthy, fun kids' music debut.

Summer Reading Program

Summer Reading Programs across the US are underway and many libraries hire children's musicians to entertain the children. This is a great opportunity for you to check out children's musicians for possible bookings at your venue; it's the best free showcase of talent around!

Check with the library in your area about the schedule of events this summer and support libraries and musicians at the same time by signing up for the free summer reading program and participating in the fun activities for you and your family!

The theme this year for many libraries is Be Creative @ the Library: READ.

Now rock on down to the library!

Muddy Memories: Priceless

We are currently on vacation in Western North Carolina, and one of the first things my children did upon arrival was begin making mud pies and sundry other muddy "treats and delights". At age 7 and 9, I am thrilled to see that they continue to enjoy this childhood right of passage. Messy play activities for children seem to be on the decline in our ever-busy society. That's a shame since playing with playdough, sand, water, mud, or paints is so beneficial to your child's development, and these benefits can be difficult to come by in other ways. To name a few...

  • Finger strength and dexterity

  • Hand-eye coordination

  • Creative play skills

  • Pretend play skills

  • Cause and effect/reasoning skills

So get out there and have some fun making messy memories!

Time: $0

Soap: $2

Developmental Benefits: Priceless!

By the way, if you have not voted on the "Favorite Things" contest, better hurry. There's just one day left to vote!

***Andy Mason***

Andy Mason's sophomore kids' album continues where Everybody Likes Pizza! left off, but with more instruments in the mix. Play It Again! is a solid collection of Americana tunes, slyly instructional songs, ridiculous sing-alongs, and eclectic covers. Everybody Like Pizza! was pretty much a solo acoustic affair, but this time around, Portales, New Mexico's favorite kids' musician utilizes jangly piano, a taste of accordion, twangy guitar, and the occasional standup bass.

Play It Again! kicks off with the honky tonk sing-along "My Cat's Got Fleas!" and the energetic tribute to swashbucklers everywhere, "The Pirate Song." Boogie woogie while you "Wash Your Hands," then follow along with the Simon Says-like "Monkey See, Monkey Do," a tune that sounds like a tinkling piano version of John Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A."

Mason lets his southwestern musical influences show on the cantina canciĆ³n "The Toilet Training Dance," the bilingual "Los Colores," and the Spanish-language ballad "A Mi Madre" and counting song "Los Numeros." And the country-flavored, perfect-for-Summer-Reading tune "Everybody Likes to Read" declares that ... well ... everybody likes to read!

What's interesting is Mason's choice of cover tunes: his barroom story-song version of the traditional "Hagdelina Magdelina;" his cajun-spiced version of Trout Fishing In America's great song "My Hair Had a Party Last Night," which fits in perfectly with Mason's Americana sound; his faithful cover of William Hargreaves' "Delaney's Donkey," made popular by Irish singer Val Doonican in the late '60s; and his breezy cover of The Housemartins' "Sheep," from their 1986 album London 0 Hull 4. Mason reworks the lyrics to turn "Sheep" into a song about trying to get to sleep, rather than The Housemartins' original sunny tirade against the easily-led masses.

Play It Again! ends with a live version of the crowd participation summer camp song "Bubble Gum," and the epic lullaby instrumental "Lalabye." And note that two tunes, "Kewsong," a waltzing country & western tune about Mason's daughter, and the aforementioned "A Mi Madre," were originally included on Mason's recently-released grownup album Lost Cowboy, which goes to show that the line between kids' music and grownup music is disappearing.

Andy Mason turns in a fun album of southwestern Americana tunes for the whole family!