Good music for a good cause. It was the goal and now the end result of Neighbor To Neighbor: Family Music For Sandy Relief a new music compilation from some of the best that the kindie music scene has to offer. It’s now available for pre-order and will be released in the next day or so. Assuming the world doesn’t end tomorrow.
Here are the exact details about the project – A compilation of children’s music to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. All net proceeds will go directly to neighborhood organizations that have been engaged in ongoing relief & recovery work in the Rockaways and on Long Island, via the Neighbor to Neighbor Fund, administered by The MARK Project, an Arkville, NY-based 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization.
1. New Is The New Old – Gustafer Yellowgold
2. Smiling – Grenadilla
3. The Night The Lights Went Out – Uncle Rock
4. Green Grass of Summer – Dog on Fleas
5. Row de Boat – Kim & Reggie Harris
6. Squeezebox Bus – Story Laurie & Ira McIntosh
7. Solartopia – Pete Seeger, Dar Williams, David Bernz & The Rivertown Kids
8. It’s So Good – Key Wilde & Mr Clarke
9. Cuida el Agua – Dan Zanes
10. Bull Frog – Professor Louie & The Crowmatix
11. Pretend Your Hand’s A Puppet – Ratboy Jr.
12. It Really Isn’t Garbage – Danny Einbender
13. I Will Be Your Friend – Guy Davis
14. This Little Light of Mine – The Saints of Swing
15. Under One Sky – Magpie
16. Sing Me the Story of Your Day – Tom Chapin
It’s the season of giving, so please consider helping those families who were impacted by Sandy.
For those of you who live in more temperate climes, where winter is something you watch other people suffer through on TV, and snow is something you wish you had on Christmas, the idea of “spring fever” might seem like an old wives’ tale — like knuckle-cracking causing arthritis, or Karl Rove being the voice of Barney the Dinosaur. Speaking as a parent of two small children in the hills of New Hampshire, however, I can tell you it’s very much a real thing, and if someone happens to come up with something awesome for your kids to do on a beautiful spring day when their bodies are drunk with March sunlight, you may wish to throw a parade in their honor.
So far as I know, no one has ever thrown a parade for Bill Childs, the benevolent genius behind Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child. But I’m pretty sure someone will someday, because Bill is a veritable font of awesomeness, starting with the website I linked to a few words back, extending to his killer family-friendly radio show, and culminating with the series of super-sweet concerts he’s helped promote in the Northampton, MA area. For much of the year, you see, Bill brings artists to Northampton as part of the No Nap Happy Hour — and as if that weren’t enough, there’s the Meltdown, the (free!) festival that brings families and performers together for a whole day of music, activities, and good times.
All of which is a long way of saying my family and I made the 90-minute trek to Northampton last Saturday, where we melted down, and it was good. Continue reading →
Now here’s an album that lives up to its title. The latest effort from Robert Burke Warren, a.k.a. Uncle Rock, further illustrates his gift for music that plays to kids without playing down to them — and addresses important topics in the bargain. Which isn’t to say The Big Picture is all serious: These 14 tracks touch on suitably kid-sized stuff like animals (“Leave the Bees Be,” “Sneaky Snake”), feelings (“Shake It Off!”), and mythical creatures (“My Friend Bigfoot”), and there’s even room for a song about a certain Texan rock legend’s distinctive singing style (“Buddy Holly’s Got the Hiccups”). But what really sets The Big Picture apart is the way Uncle Rock talks about the, um, big picture — like where garbage goes after we throw it away (“There Is No Away,” “Garbage Barge”), the importance of supporting your local economy (“Stop at a Mom n’ Pop”), and the bright side of a power outage (“The Night the Lights Went Out”).
Rock isn’t lecturing here, though. I mean, there really is no away, and as angry as the idea might make people of a certain political persuasion, it’s important for kids to recognize that their trash doesn’t just disappear after they put it in the garbage can. And whether or not you consider yourself a locavore, local economies are important — and I’ve never heard anyone make shopping from neighborhood stores sound like more fun than Uncle Rock does here. This kind of lefty stuff can be tricky; even the mighty Pete Seeger can seem didactic from time to time. But even at his most socially conscious, Uncle Rock doesn’t sound preachy; he just sounds like he’s sharing. This is partly because he couches his more educational tracks with silly bits like “Secret Spaceman,” but it’s also because his style is so refreshingly honest and direct. He doesn’t try to gussy up these topics in kids’ clothes, he addresses his audience with the faith and respect they deserve. It’s really sort of beautiful, if you think about it.
(Also beautiful, and definitely deserving special mention, is the production from Dean Jones, who’s becoming sort of the Joe Henry of the kids’ music world. Once upon a time, children’s albums were littered with awful synths and silly sound effects, and although this started changing before Jones came along, his name has become a real sign of quality — anytime you notice his involvement in an album, you know it’s worth your time, and The Big Picture is a perfect example.)