Thursday, April 29, 2010

Off to New York with a Feather in my Cap!

The primary mission of Singing in the Bathtub is to promote and discuss quality kids' music. I don't typically use this forum to promote my own music (I have a newly updated website to do that), but I wanted to share some great news that involves yours truly as well as other "Friends of the Bathtub" like Roger Day, Joannie Leeds, Milkshake, Rebecca Frezza, Marc Bazerman and Shira Klein.

The 2010 Parents Choice Awards were announced a week, and I was awarded Gold along with the aforementioned Day, Leeds and Milkshake! For me this is a big deal. We share the golden pedestal with heavy hitter such as Dan Zanes and the ubiquitous Puto Mayo. Baze and his Silly Friends received a blue Recommendation Award, and Frezza and Klein both received a red Approval stamp from the Parents Choice Foundation.

It is an exciting time because I am currently packing to head up to NYC for the 2010 Kindiefest conference and showcase. This is my first year attending, and I'm planning to make the most of it. I am probably most excited about meeting so many of the groups/artist featured in The Bathtub.
The secondary mission of Singing in the Bathtub is to help build a strong community of children's musicians.

Kid Video of the Day:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Take Me to Toddlerville

Today I am happy to be posting another, long overdue review (hey that rhymes!). A month or two ago I received a CD from Baze and his Silly Friends. This New Jersey quartet, fronted by Marc Bazerman has a new CD called Toddlerville that my dear readers here at Singing in the Bathtub might enjoy.

It's been a while since I've posted a video, so I thought I'd kick off this review with their latest video from the album: This is Your Body

So, as you can see and hear, Baze and his silly friends offer a bluesy, rollicking brand of kids' music that if fun and upbeat. What first jumped out at me when listening to Toddlerville was the rich vocal harmonies. There are so many solo artist kids' acts out there, that when a tight band with kickin' three part harmony comes across my desk I have to stop and smile.

The second thing that caught my attention when checking out Toddlerville was the pseudo-"Hard Day's Night" cover featuring the silly friends mugging for the camera (with a bit of swirly tie-dye pattern to compliment the folk/rock, jam-band style of the music). Parents who are old enough to remember vinyl albums will appreciate this wink to one of rock and roll's seminal albums.

Produced, engineered and mixed by Marc Bazerman and guitarist/keyboard player Brian Rund, the album has a consistent, bluesy, rock and roll vibe that I really enjoy. I am always heartened to see other kids' artist taking the reigns and self-producing. Not sure why, but Quincy Jones, Rick Ruben and Brian Eno don't seem to be lining up to work on the latest kids' music album. Equally, Ticketmaster isn't shelling out the big bucks to book kids' music acts, so I often wonder where artists' production budgets come from. It's nice to have the control and the experience to do a project like this on your own.

The Mike Brady Wrap-up: With the dog days of summer just around the corner, Baze and his Silly Friends' latest album Toddlerville puts me in the mood to find my brightest tie-dye and dust off my dancing shoes. Bazerman has done a great job capturing the thoughts and emotions of this in between time when saying "I'm a Big Boy!" seems like the most vital and important thing in the world. If you are a fan of folk, rock and blues, Toddlerville may be right up your alley!

Kid Quote of the Day: "Mr. Nick, what does the "soft"-tenuto pedal do?" Henry asked during his piano lesson. "To be honest with you Henry, I'm really not sure what the sostenuto pedal does. I'll have to look it up," I replied. "I'll have to go to the Google to see. My dad showed me how I can do the Google and find things out." ~Henry (age: 4)

Friday, April 9, 2010

They're Not Kidding!

Since childhood, Barry Louis Polisar has unexpectedly popped up twice in my life. As I had mentioned in my 2008 post Top Ten Kids' Music Albums of All Time, I grew up listening to Barry and recall borrowing his albums from the local public library in the early 80's. I enjoyed his gross sense of humor and his wacky, imaginative story-telling.

So, I was surprised and taken aback to hear Barry Louis Polisar during the credits of Juno around the time that I posted the original Top Ten. Recently, I received an email from the man himself in promotion of We're Not Kidding! a collection of 60! (I'm not kidding) covers of Barry's music over the past 30+ years.

Word about Singing in the Bathtub has been getting around. I receive submissions each week and I have built nice relationships with many different publicists and P.R. managers, but it is rare to have an artist contact me directly and spend the time to communicate back and forth about kids' music. It's hard for most people to understand my interest (obsession?) in kids' music, but I sort of felt like one of the Beatles dropped me a line.

I looked back into Barry's collection of music before the CD arrived so I had a good reference of the originals. I didn't realize that his collection goes back to 1975! I also didn't realize at the time how much Barry reminds me of the master songwriter/storyteller, Bob Dylan. For the uninitiated to Barry's music, it's like a bit of Bob and a bit of Shel Silversteen, but I don't want to sell him short by pigeon holing him. Much like the recent I'm Not There Soundtrack Album sent up tributes of Bob Dylan. A giant cast of musicians has come together to make We're Not Kidding!

To be honest, I initially didn't recognize any of the band names on the roster. That's certainly not due to lack of talent. The various styles, interpretations, and genres that are covered on this 2 CD set are vast and at times dizzying (in a good way... think of kids' spinning). Everything from rockabilly, techno, jazz, alt-country to klezmer with full yiddish translation. You name it, and it's probably on there.

In our back and forth over email, Barry and I discussed the kids' music scene these days. He reflected that, most kids' music is for preschool children and by extension they're parents (myself included). Barry's music definitely has a more mature sense of humor and appeals to an older crowd. The musical sophistication on We're Not Kidding! is a bonus for those growing brains.

The Mike Brady Wrap-up: Tribute albums are a unique thing in the world of music. It's easy to assume that a tribute album is only for the die-hard fan who sees the subtleties in different interpretations of classic songs. I would say that even for folks who are not familiar with Barry Louis Polisar's work, We're Not Kidding! is a great way to be exposed to his collection. The styles run the gambit, so you may not be into every track, but there are a lot to choose from. 60 tracks from any artist is a lot to take, so having various musical genres juxtaposed keeps it interesting and fun. As a teacher or a children's musician it's hard to watch the generations age and grow out of your range, but for an artist like Barry Louis Polisar he is now performing for children of his first generation fans. Any one of them will love this modern eclectic take on the veteran's work.

Kid Quote of the Day: "Happy Birthday Quinn!" I called as I exited her party. "Happy Birthday!" ~Quinn (age: 3)