Friday, November 19, 2010


On this lovely Friday afternoon, I have a review of Meredith Wright's debut album Sweetbeatz (Soulful Songs for City Kids). Hailing from New York City, with a background in theater, Wright has created a collection of 13 songs that span many genres (funk, rock, swing, and spoken chants) with a rhythmic foundation that ties it all together.

Despite the subtitle (Soulful Songs for City Kids), I bet you'll love this one even if you live out in the country. It could be the theatrical background, or the funky vibe on this album that reminds me (musically) of the soundtrack to Hair. Bassist Jerome Harris can lay down an impressive groove with his slap-bass style (like on the songs Hairdo and Boots), but there are also quiet, sweet moments on the CD (Goodbye, Lucky and All Day Long).

The songs on Sweetbeatz tend to be longer than the typical 2 min. kids' tune. Songs like Neighborhood develop and evolve, taking the listener on a musical journey. With songs like Cookies, All Day Long, My Dancing Feet and Playdate, Wright plays with the traditional, spoken chants that I recall from preschool. Young listeners will certainly respond to the rhythmic recitations and parents may just find themselves chanting "Pick the time, pick the day, holler out you wanna play," even when there are no kids around.

The Mike Brady Wrap-up: As I mentioned before, you don't have to live in the city to enjoy Sweetbeatz. Meredith Wright's lovely voice and sweet harmonies put a smile on my face. The lyrics and imagery are perfect for the young Pre-K crowd, but the music is skillfully composed and well produced. There's a mix of the simple chants that inspire the wee ones to chant along, and the more complex songwriting from the theatrical and jazz traditions. That, plus a bunch of great dancing music, is what Sweetbeatz is all about. Give it a listen and I know you'll be singing along.

Kid Quote of the Day: "What will you eat for Thanksgiving?" I asked the students in my music class one at a time. "Shushi!" ~Luca (age: 3)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lazy Sunday

I didn't want to let a week go by without a post, but it's been another two gig weekend and it looks like the reviews will have to wait until next time.

For today I thought I would share a classic video gem that I've been watching a lot lately. I was asked to perform this REM/Sesame Street classic at a party today. It was a lot of fun (so much so that the 2 year old boy of honor requested it twice).

Kid Quote of the Day: The class listened to a sample of a clarinet playing "twinkle twinkle little star." It stopped after four bars when one student spoke up, "What about the 'ahpah bahpah world so high' part?" she asked. ~Lucia (age: 5)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Isn't it Grand?

Today, for your listening pleasure, I have a review of The Baby Grands' sophomore album entitled "II." This duo from Georgia has a unique style that I can only describe as inspired by the "Nashville Sound."

Though they cover a lot of musical ground on this album (from funky tunes like "Hey!" to acoustic ballads like "Goodbye" or straight ahead rock tunes like "Brain Freeze"), there is an unmistakable new-country vibe that reminds me of groups like Lady Antibellum, Sugarland, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban or The Jayhawks. Thankfully there isn't too much "country-twang" to the vocals (for me at least), but the liberal use of slide guitar and harmonica on "Pounding Heart," and "Paper Airplane," conjure up images of the heartland. On "Palindrome Express," there is a classic rock-a-billy sound that fits well with the sound of an 18-wheeler rolling down the road.
Though "II" is a musical slice of Americana, there is an international/multi-cultural theme to the first two tracks.

I love both the title of this album (very Led Zeppelin), and the name of the band, but I want to warn my readers not to let the "Baby" in their name fool you. The lyrics and imagery are definitely for an older crowd. This is more of a kindergarten/elementary school album than for the infant/toddler age range (though I am sure the lush arrangements and finely crafted tunes will get them moving).

The Mike Brady Wrap-up: By now I have reviewed music from all around the country. Each time I think I have a grasp on the kids' music scene, a new group comes along and expands my definition of what kids' music is these days. We as artists, are straddling two worlds, trying to please kids and parents alike. As an adult, you can take your pick of styles and genres that you enjoy and there will likely be a family act to fit the bill. With The Baby Grands offering a bit of southern rock and country, there is a whole new genre to recommend to my readers. A strong duo with great harmony, clever and educational lyrics, and a clear style, The Baby Grands have a lot to be proud of with "II."

Kid Quote of the Day: At the end of a guitar lesson my student and I met his mother and brother downstairs. I noted that the younger boy had on two different shoes. My student pointed out the crocodile printed on one and the dog printed on the other, "See Mr. Nick, Santo has a Sally Croc and a Lucy Croc [referring to the songs "Alligator Sally" and "I've got a little Dog"]." ~Jiam (age: 6)

Talk about your superfans! I've been immortalized in shoe form.