That Friday Feeling performed by Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could

Family music artist Brady Rymer and his fellow performers in the Little Band That Could put the “rock” in kindie rock. From the very beginning of their children’s music career, the group never shied away from featuring electric guitars, keyboards, and drums to create a musical sound that kids and their parents alike would enjoy. With That Friday Feeling, the band’s 12th studio album, that rock and roll tradition continues.

From the first note of the title track to the last beat of the final song, listeners are treated to Rymer’s rockin’ signature melodies combined with lyrics that not only entertain, but emphasize the importance of living lives filled with joy, hope, and kindness. The eleven original songs include ideas for how to cheer someone up, an appreciation for the adorable animal babies of summer, the soft jam that follows the bunny tracks through the snow, and answers to that age-old-question, “If you had a super power, what would it be?” Also included is the beautiful tune, “Outline,” which says that we are simply outlines that are being filled with precious attributes like light and love which are represented by different colors of the rainbow and the upbeat “Gonna Sleep Well Tonight” whose goal it is to get kids moving and dancing and ready to fall into bed. The only cover on That Friday Feeling is “Yes We Can Can,” a funk song about helping one another out that was written by Allen Toussaint and made popular by the Pointer Sisters. Rymer and the Little Band That Could dig right in and give a performance that would make them all proud.

Even in its quieter moments, That Friday Feeling is filled with a joyful celebration of things in life both big and small. Listeners will quickly find themselves bopping their heads and singing along. That Friday Feeling is available this Friday, June 17. 

Sing for the Sea – Little Wild Ocean Friends performed by Claudia Robin Gunn

It’s that wonderous time of year when children celebrate the end of school and public libraries launch their summer reading programs. Many libraries create their own themes, while others either use the iREAD theme, which this year is “Read Beyond the Beaten Path,” or the CSLP theme, “Oceans of Possibilities.” Both of these themes are fantastic and encourage young readers to explore worlds beyond their everyday experiences, but the one we’re going to focus on today is “Oceans of Possibilities.”

New Zealand-based Claudia Robin Gunn had no idea when she was planning the launch of her latest album, Sing for the Sea – Little Wild Ocean Friends, that it would perfectly coincide with American summer reading programs, but lucky for us, it does. Gunn’s newest collection of kindie folk is a double album packed with 24 original songs, all written and performed by Gunn. Featuring vocals that elevate her modern take on folk music, Gunn’s voice is at times almost ethereal, making it the perfect companion to lyrics that tell the tale of creatures found deep in the ocean. Each track has its own story to tell and is strengthened by the intentional way that each song focuses on only one creature or aspect of the watery environs. Animals spotlighted on the album include whales, squid, octopus, and jelly fish while rock pools, seaweed, and coral reefs are also shown special treatment. Although each song is packed with scientific facts, they are consistently entertaining and never feel didactic. All encourage listeners to use their imaginations and several like “Pirate Princess,” “Mermaid Parade,” and “Sandcastle Competition” promote the importance of play.

Along with Sing for the Sea – Little Wild Ocean Friends, Claudia worked with her sister Dr. Melissa R. Gunn and award-winning watercolor artist Elise De Silva to create a companion songbook that includes science notes and activity ideas for each song. Originally due out in July, when Claudia heard about the “Ocean’s of Possibilities” theme, she decided to give American audiences a chance to gain early access. The digital songbook and album are available now on Bandcamp (see https://www.claudiagunn.com/sfts for details and to hear a sample). Sing for the Sea – Little Wild Ocean Friends will be available via all the regular streaming services beginning July 8.

Benny and Friends performed by Benny Time

One of the things that I’ve discovered this past year is that there is a wealth of children’s performers in Australia and New Zealand that I previously hadn’t heard a lot about here in the States. But with performers across the globe embracing the digital market, that is changing. A couple of months ago I was introduced to the talented, Australia-based Benny Time and would like to share his latest effort with you. For his fourth children’s album, Ben Thatcher (aka Benny Time) skillfully combines themes to create songs that speak to the beauty of nature while applauding the fact that we are all unique (“The River, The Mountain”), emphasize the importance of reusing and recycling so that the world and its inhabitants can be happy (the gospel backed “A Little Recycling Adventure”), and celebrating how wonderful each of us is but how much better we are when we’re together (“How Great We Are”). Along the way, Thatcher treats us to three versions (punk, surf, and beat) of the tune “Cars Are Everywhere” and the delightful “He Needs to Wee” about a boy who just as he is about to walk on Mars, talk with a dolphin, or find the end of the rainbow, realizes – like so many young children – he needs to wee.

Not only is Benny and Friends a wonderful showcase for Thatcher’s lovely vocals and spot on songwriting, but it also is a solid introduction to children’s music performers from that area of the world. Throughout the album Benny is joined by Australian songsters The Beanies, The Tiptoe Giants, Lah-Lah, and Justine Clarke as well as New Zealand standouts Claudia Robin Gunn and Itty Bitty Beats. Not limiting the album to just his friends in the southern hemisphere, it is New York’s own East Coast Inspirational Singers who bring the soul to recycling.

Benny and Friends will be available this Friday on all the usual streaming services. For a little taste of what is to come, take a listen to “Little Grey Cloud (It’s ok to Cry)” a song about grief and sadness that is sure to touch your heart.

Song Spotlight – “Stuff!” Performed by Esther Crow

It’s Earth Day! Celebrate this rock we call home with a new, high-octane tune from Esther Crow. Disheartened by ever-growing landfills that contribute to the climate crisis and inspired by purging some of her own “stuff,” Esther wrote this song to encourage families to be greener and consider donating items they no longer want rather than tossing them in the trash. Produced by Dean Jones, this call-and-response rock song which features Esther’s eight-year-old son on mandolin and violin, gets the message across in a gloriously frenetic way. After jamming along, listeners will surely be left with the desire to take a good hard look at all their “stuff.” 

 

“Stuff!” performed by Esther Crow is available on all streaming platforms.

Song Spotlight – “Joy, Spice, Soul”

In children’s music, something incredible happened as a direct result of the pandemic – collaboration. Sure, artists worked together on occasion before, but never like they do today. “Joy, Spice, Soul” is a perfect example of just one of the amazing collaborations happening right now. On this uplifting track, two-time GRAMMY winner Lucy Kalantari is joined by brand new GRAMMY winner Falu and GRAMMY nominee Fyütch in creating a slice of happiness. In this jazzy, upbeat tune, the basic melody remains constant as each of the performers brings their own style of music (jazz, soul, classical Indian) to the lyrics. When their voices join together, it’s pure magic. As they aptly declare, “We bring different flavors but sing the same song/Brothers and sisters let’s all sing along.” Take a listen below while you dance around the room celebrating the “Joy, Spice, Soul” in life!

Video Spotlight – “I Choose Happy” performed by Birdie

“I choose happy, it looks good on me. I choose joy and I am free.” These are the opening lines to the chorus of “I Choose Happy,” the newest song from Birdie (California-based duo Teresa Gasca-Burk and Gary Burk). Sung while children play in the park, laughing, and enjoying being with one another, these lyrics, as well as the rest in this sweet, up-tempo song, encourage young viewers to embrace the goodness in life and share it with those around them – a message and reminder that we could all use once in a while. Watching this video, you’ll have no choice but to smile and be happy!

Falu Takes Home the GRAMMY!

After Covid-related delays, the 64th Annual GRAMMY awards were held today. All of the nominees in the Best Children’s Album category hit the red carpet (check out their social media feeds!) in Las Vegas looking dapper and divine. After a controversy laden nomination process last year, the 2022 GRAMMY nominees were the most diverse field yet featuring albums from 123 Andrès, Pierce Freelon, Falu, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, and the vast array of performers known as 1 Tribe Collective. In the end there could only be one winner and this year’s award went to two-time nominee, first-time GRAMMY winner Falu for her album A Colorful World! Huge congratulations go out to Falu and all of the nominees. Once again you have proven how beautiful, powerful, and fun children’s music can be.

Welcome Spring performed by Little Miss Ann

Chicago’s Little Miss Ann kicks off spring 2022 with her new EP, Welcome Spring. Released through 8 Pound Gorilla Records and produced by Dean Jones, Welcome Spring is a joyous celebration that lifts the spirits. Featuring an array of special guests like Suzi Shelton, Uncle Jumbo, and Flor Bromley, each song is filled with lyrics that engage and delight listeners with repeating choruses that encourage singing along. Multi-layered instrumentation and top-notch production gives the pop tunes a fun edginess while highlighting themes such as the arrival of spring, the universal consumption of rice, and the fact that there are so many ways to be happy, smart, brave, etc. The title track, “Welcome Spring,” is out today and  aptly captures all the emotions that come with finally being able to shed your boots and mittens and tell Old Man Winter that he’s no longer needed. The video features a brilliant color palette that paints the perfect springtime picture while an inclusive cast of diverse characters revel in the change of the seasons. Check out the video below. The full Welcome Spring EP is available on streaming services beginning April 1.

Video Spotlight – “Thanks to the Doctors and Nurses” performed by Daria

Welcome to the second of two videos in this spotlight series highlighting songs that have come out in this new phase of the pandemic-era. Following up Monday’s “Fauci Ouchie” is the latest single from Daria, “Thanks to the Doctors and Nurses.” With four decades of experience as a songwriter, folk singer, and ethnomusicologist, Daria uses her expertise as a pioneer in world music for children to create a beautiful tribute to the women and men who continue to work tirelessly to keep us safe and healthy, whether or not there is a pandemic. The unusual melody line of “Thanks to the Doctors and Nurses” takes unexpected dips and turns while being perfectly paired with engaging animation that features a diverse cast. This video will engage children and leave them wanting to show a little kindness by saying thank you to all of the doctors and nurses they encounter in their lives.

Video Spotlight – “Fauci Ouchie” Performed by Joanie Leeds

The coming week is going to be very interesting. After two years of masking and social distancing and vaccinations, we are now entering a new stage that basically says, “it’s ok to go back to life as you knew it.” For some, it’s a time of jubilation. For others, it’s a time of uneasiness. No matter your view on it though, I hope that we are all able to be respectful of one another’s decisions (to mask, or not to mask) and to show one another kindness in the days and weeks to come.

This week, as we work our way through this next stage in the pandemic, I am highlighting two recent children’s music videos. Today’s video comes from GRAMMY-winner Joanie Leeds and was just released on Friday. Featuring Joanie and her six-year-old daughter Joya, “Fauci Ouchie” is a fun, catchy tune with the goal of taking the scariness out of getting vaccinated. While the lyrics specifically mention the Fauci Ouchie, the song and video are general enough that it could be used for years to come to ease the fears of young children as they face the many vaccination shots that are necessary throughout their early lives.

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