Dan Zanes and Friends

welcome_bandbenchAll I really need to say about Dan Zanes is that he is fabulous (and though he’s from New Hampshire, he did spend some time growing up in New Brunswick)! He’s about bringing people together, sharing and collaborating ideas, and just having fun. On top of the great band he regularly plays with, every album features a diverse collection of artists and a truckload of different styles of music. If you want to expose your kids (and yourself) to different types of music from around the world but don’t know where to start, or just can’t get into the Putomayo collection, DZ is a really nice intro.

The 2007 Grammy award winning “Catch that Train” (this album is my fav) features the gospel of Blind Boys of Alabama, Zulu folk songs sung by the children of South Africa’s Agape Orphanage, Natalie Merchant singing a scottish ballad, and topped off with a beautiful Mexican folksong.

“Family Dance” (2002) will get your kids up and moving, but I will add this caveat – waking up to “Hokey Pokey” at the crack of dawn one Sunday morning did not sit well with Boo’s dad (it was a 3 coffee morning) and has sadly turned him off DZ.

“Night Time” (2004) is a sweet album, great for tuning down your day. Amy Mann is always a nice touch, and Lou Reed singing music for kids? I love it.

DZ also released Rocket Ship Beach (2000), and Grammy nominated House Party (2003). In 2008 he showed his social activist colors with the release of “¡Nueva York!”, weighing in on the Immigration debate in the US by highlighting how immigration enriches music and culture. This album is full of songs from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere.

His latest album, “The Welcome Table: Songs of Inspiration, Mystery & Good Times” (2009) is an upbeat collection of new and previously released recordings of North American gospel traditions, but they’re much less Blind Boys of Alabama style gospel, and more zydeco-get-up-and-dance.

It was really hard for me to choose a song to post, since he’s so eclectic one song isn’t a good representation of what he’s about. “Catch that Train”, though, is one of my personal favs…


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Cancon in the Kids’ Music Blogosphere

As if I’m having trouble finding time to catch up on postings with this whole parenting thing…all these other parents are actually MAKING albums, and I can’t seem to pull together time to say a few words to say how awesome they are. I also need to step up my game now that I’ve been reaching out to bands putting out kids’ albums, falsely promoting myself as some kind of Kids Music blogger.

There are some really great Kids Music blogs coming out of the states – like Zooglobble.com, which pumps out so many postings my Google Reader account is about to collapse, and Kids’ Music that Rocks, whose tagline is “Music for kids that doesn’t make adults want to rip their hair out.”. Exactly. Those guys totally rock \m/

So I’ve been digging around to beef up the Cancon in the Kids’ Music Blogosphere, and am very excited to have connected with a few bands out west in British Columbia who are sending me some CDs. And since CDs are as obsolescent to me as fax machines and phone books, I’m going to share the love and give them away to lucky readers. Yeah baby, that’s right…free stuff. Good music. Free stuff.

So new material to come…the usual suspects that pop up all over the place will still make it in (i.e. Justin Roberts and Ellis Paul to come up next), but stay tuned for some down-home Canadiana!

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Biz’s Beat of the Day

Yo Gabba Gabba is …well…it’s a special kind of kids show on Nikelodeon (US) and Treehouse (Canada). It’s become a bit of a cult hit, and has featured guests like Leslie Hall of Gem Sweater fame, and Elija Wood dancing to Numa Numa. It’s…well, it’s wierd. One of it’s featured guests is Biz Markie. Most of you would remember him from the 1989 hit “Just a Friend“, but he’s better known in the Hip Hop world for beat-boxing. Biz hosted Biz’s Beat of the Day – a series of 90 second beat-boxing lessons for your anklebiter.

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The Boogers

Ok, NOW we’re talking. As if their name isn’t fabulous enough, this is the Ramones meets Mother Goose. the_boogersNo seriously…while touring and playing bass with Chicago-based punk bands in the 80s and 90s, Paul Crowe (aka Crusty Booger) actually played bass with Dee Dee Ramone (& the Chinese Dragons) and Marky Ramone (& the Intruders). A PhD in Developmental Psych and 3 kids later, he created The Boogers – a kid-friendly punk band that completely rocks \m/

While the Ramones aren’t every parent’s style, this is completely kid-friendly music. It’s a combo of covers/interpretations of traditional kids’ music (“The Wheels on the Bus”) and original tunes (“This Song’s About Transportation!”). Some songs are clearly tributes to the Ramones (“ABC”), while other songs like “Peanut Butter and Jelly” are more in line with, say, The Dead Milkmen. No matter what, you can’t help but dance when you hear it. The Boogers apparently spend their time playing venues like Children’s museums and birthday parties.  I think they’re the kind of dads you want to have on Careers Day. Amazon.com and CD Baby can barely keep their 2008 “Road to Rock” album in stock.

Check out this video of them playing “Mary” to see what kids think about these guys…

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The Nappies

This is my favourite all-time band. Unfortunately, they only ever recorded a single song…

Actually, they’re the alter-ego of a very popular band. I caught wind of The Nappies through The Ongoing History of New Music with Alan Cross. The lead singer is married to and has an ankle-biter with a well-known actress, for whom the song was conceived (like the use of “conceived” in that sentence?). I’m not going to tell you who the Nappies really are…you’ll have to watch the video to figure it out for yourself 😉

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Rockabye Baby!

9600_100x100Why bore your boo with Bach and Brahms when you can rawk the cradle with the Rolling Stones and Radiohead? It’s never to early to teach your baby to fight the man with the Ramones, or to angst with the charming brit boys of Coldplay.

For those of you who aren’t ready to make the leap to playing Nine Inch Nails for your little boo, or for those of you that want something familiar but a little more chilled to play during naptime, this is a collection of albums for you.

9611_100x100 Rockabye Baby! a set of instrumental albums that cover the greatest hits of classic rock, pop and punk bands. There’s just something fabulous about having your boo fall asleep to a soft, lullabye interpretation of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” (a song I often find myself humming as I’m changing Boo’s diaper). 

9620_lrg_100x100 The music is digitally produced bells and vibes with no vocals, which make it great background music for your boo as she/he winds down. Although, it’s too bad they didn’t go an extra step and use some real instruments. There’s not a whole lot to them, so this post is a short one. I’ll just end with a list of albums that are out there…there really is something for everyone (oh Joey Ramone…when did you sell


Led Zepplin
Pink Floyd
The Beach Boys
The Cure
Queens of the Stone Age
The Eagles
The Ramones
Nine Inch Nails
Smashing Pumpkins
The Beatles
Bob Marley
Green Day
The Rolling Stones
The Pixies

You can get these albums at Amazon.com, Emusic.com and the Rockabye Baby! website. Thanks to Michelle R.B. and Nora S. for the recommendation!

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Barenaked Ladies – Snacktime!

200px-Snacktime I think most of what these guys do make for great family listening, but their kids’ album is pretty fab. And we’re not the only ones to think so – Snacktime! (Amazon.comand Emusic.com) reached #10 on Canadian charts and peaked at #61 on the Billboard 200. Its release in May 2008 was unfortunately followed by Steven Page’s drug-charge incident in July, which I had heard forced the label to limit its promotion over the summer. When the Ladies came to Ottawa for a show, they did have a kids matinee as part of their tour (we weren’t sure that at seven months Boo would have gotten much out of it, so we didn’t make it).

Musically, it features the usual, infectious upbeat pop that the Ladies are known for. But unlike many kids albums, there’s just so much variety in the sound throughout the album. Each song is so different from the one before it, and there really is something for everyone – jazz, pop, rock, bluegrass…it even gives a nod to bands like the Pointer Sisters and REM.

The lyrics are clever and hilarious, especially songs like “7,8,9” (use “8” as a verb”). I’m a fan of non sequiturs and the absurd, so one of my favs is “I can sing”

I can sing, I can sing, I can sing better; I can knit a scarf but can’t knit a sweater; When I’m underwater I couldn’t get wetter; Never go swimming in a mohair sweater

There are a few great tunes that have a little more content to them, like “Allergies” and “Bad Day”, which, for older kids, would be a great way to start important discussions. “Food Party”, on the other hand, targets the younger set of ankle-biters, with a whole bunch of food hanging out and jamming together, debating their various characteristics (Sour is a bit of a jerk).

One of the nice things about this album is that it’s filled with Canadiana – How often does Labrador get featured in a pop song? There’s also the “Canadian Snacktime Trilogy”, which is an homage to the Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy”. You’ll also get to find out what snacks are loved by Canadian icons such as Sarah McLauchlan, David Suzuki, and Gordon Downie. I know – you’re on the edge of your seat!

This is such an easy album to listen to – it’s imaginative, it’s clever, it speaks to kids and parents, it’s just fun all around. A must for your collection.

Note – It also comes with a companion book, but since we purchase all our music online in MP3 format, we didn’t get a copy.

Check out the video for “7,8,9”

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