Name: Dan Walsh
Kids: One amazing daughter
Runs: 6 miles, 4x a week.
Favorite thing about being a dad: The smiles and laughter
Least favorite thing about being a dad: Terrible Twos
Famous for: Having a concert in my living room
And The Song Goes
Just give me your hand, some days I hold it
Some days I need help up from the ground
Just give me your hand, this friendship’s golden.
I just like to know you're around.
Kid-Hop? You better believe it. You may have some preconceived ideas about hip hop music for kids. Those should all disappear with one listen of Underground Playground. Lots of children’s music is engaging, relatable and entertaining. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s kid-hop is challenging, empowering and extremely entertaining. The messages in the songs are not dumbed down for the kids. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is a trip back to old school hip hop: positive party jams about real life. These just happen to be from the perspective of a child.
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is family project, often featuring 23 Skidoo’s daughter Saki (aka MC Fireworks) dropping rhymes and his wife Brooke on vocals to sing the hook. Underground Playground brings in a laundry list of guest musicians to play the banjo, horns, vocals, ukulele and turntables, giving each track its own unique vibe.
The album comes out of the gate swinging. ‘Road Trip’ is a bouncy, ska-flavored track about vacations in the car with the family, with lyrics relatable to parents and kids alike: “Us kids are always good, OK I lied, sometimes we yell like ‘dad she’s on my side.’” It reminded me of family trips we used to take with my brothers and sister piled in our station wagon.
‘Secret Handshake’ is a piano driven track that will have you headbobbing along. A ukulele has never sounded funkier than it does on the track ‘Hula Hoop Soup.’ ‘Speak The Truth’ features Gift of Gab from Blackalicous and is about what happens when you lie instead being honest. Not your traditional kids’ music topic, which makes Underground Playground such a breath of fresh air.
I’ll be honest, the video for '13 O’Clock' kind of haunts me like Pink Elephants on Parade from Dumbo. Not scary? Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s video for the song 'Chase the Rain'
Also check out videos of songs from their previous album: Gotta be Me and Family Tree, which is awesome simply for the line dropped by his daughter “my style is kinda preschool’
The closing track, 'Never Stop Asking' is aimed directly at parents: 'Hey kid you're my favorite child to play with, lets make this playground into a spaceship and grab mom then blast into outer space and stay there until the year runs out of days. keep teaching and I'll try to learn your lessons alright, just know I'm a proud pappa for the rest of my life." I love that last line.
Still not convinced? Listen to a couple more songs on their Sprockster page. The album is geared towards older kids, roughly between the ages of 5-10. At nearly 60 minutes, it is longer than your average kids CD and the album would be fine a couple tracks shorter. I highly suggest giving this album a chance. I think you'll be surprised by your reaction, along with how your kid reacts.
As always, we’ve got a copy to give away. Just leave comment below about your favorite old School Hip Hop artist.
CD: Underground Playground
Artist: Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Audience: 5-10 yrs old and their parents
Sounds Like: A mix between Boogie Down Productions and Biz Markie.
Buy from: http://www.secretagent23skidoo.com/
1. Road Trip
2. Mind Over Matter
3. Secret Handshake
4. Opposite Day
5. Speak The Truth (Featuring Gift Of Gab)
6. Once Upon A Rhyme
7. Sticks And Stones
9. Ride The Butterflies
10. Chase The Rain
11. Sky Music
12. Bored Is A Bad Word
13. The Whalephant
14. Hula Hoop Soup
15. 13 O'Clock
16. Never Stop Asking
No musician will ever top Stevie Wonder performing Superstition on Sesame Street. But Sesame Street usually does a pretty good job of bringing in good musicians to perform. Feist from a couple years ago is a perfect example. Norah Jones, Jason Mraz, Paul Simon and countless others have all performed on the show.
Since my daughter is on a hardcore Elmo/Sesame Street lovefest right now, it was hard to ignore this new Sesame Street video featuring Will.I.Am from Black Eyed Peas, so I felt like sharing. It's helping launch the 41st season of Sesame Street premiering next Monday the 27th. Enjoy.
In other random news, I'm trying to convince my wife to dress our daughter up as #13 on this Star Wars related costume list for Halloween. Her initial reaction is unprintable on this family blog.
I was asked to be on the radio this past weekend to talk kids music and hopefully you’ll be hearing more of it in the future. Erik Bilstad the Sunday host of Wisconsin’s Weekend Morning News on Newsradio 620 WTMJ noticed that I wouldn’t stop talking about kids music. Intrigued, he was kind enough to offer me an additional outlet to let parents know about some great children's music available to them.
If you missed it, here is how it sounded.
In the coming weeks, I’ll focus on individual artists or albums and talk about them on the show. It won’t be every week because the Packers pre-game for noon kickoffs starts at 9am and shortens the morning show. When I find out when they are going to air, I'll post it on Twitter.
Thanks again to Erik Bilstad for asking me to come on the show.
And The Song Goes
If you’re sure to use soap
Every time that you wash
You’ll always be healthy
The germs will be crushed
I was convinced that my Top 10 kids albums from 2010 was pretty much set, but Brian Vogan has created an album you can’t ignore. Breezy, jangle-pop songs have never sounded so good.
My musical tastes were formed in the early ‘90s Seattle grunge era with Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees and Mother Love Bone/Pearl Jam leading the way. Well, fast forward just under twenty years and what do we have? Seattle leading the way in music I’m listening to – this time it just happens to be children’s music. Recess Monkey, The Not-It’s, Casper Babypants and the artist I’m about to review, Brian Vogan, all hail from Northwest. I’m not sure what’s in the water in Seattle, but I need to visit ASAP.
Vogan’s first album was a stripped down solo record, but this time he brings along “His Good Buddies” for a fuller sounding musical journey. Sing A Little Song’s great opening track 'How to Fly' gets a boost with additional vocals from Rachel Flotard (Visqueen). '27' is the funkiest song about counting numbers I’ve heard in a long time. The 1950s era doo-wop and finger-snapping of 'Tow Truck' had me hitting the back button over and over again.
'Wash Your Hands' is a grunged-out rock track. If you have any trouble getting your kids to wash their hands, this song should do the trick. The country-tinged 'Last Thanksgiving' is about an escaped turkey that says: “If I’m the biggest turkey in the entire state, then there’s just no way I’m ending up on a plate.” Clever, without being corny. It is something Brian Vogan excels at.
Other topics on the album are familiar to kids music: space, dinosaurs, dogs, frogs, and crossing the street, but Vogan makes them each his own.
In short, Sing A Little Song is awesome. It has everything you’d want in an album: great harmonies, great song writing, memorable lyrics and stellar production. All those qualities make this an easy entry into my Top 10 for 2010. It’s just a great record. Don’t believe me? Listen to song samples right here. If I was wealthy enough to offer a money-back guarantee I would. I can’t see how anyone could not like this record.
Bonus – We were lucky enough to get a copy of the new album for giveaway. Who wants to win it? Leave a comment about what bands formed your musical tastes and we’ll randomly select a winner on Sept 8th.
CD: Sing A Little Song
Artist: Brian Vogan and His Good Buddies
Audience: 3-9 yrs old and their parents
Sounds Like: Marcy Playground, IRS days of R.E.M., Toad The Wet Sprocket
Buy from: http://www.brianvogan.com/store
1. How to Fly
3. Cross the Street
4. Tow Truck
5. Sing A Little Song
6. Wash Your Hands
7. Last Thanksgiving
8. Gray Dog
9. One Tiny Little Frog
The Fresh Beat Band, Nickelodeon's comedy/musical series for the preschool set returns for Season 2 this week.
The show revolves around four friends – Kiki, Marina, Twist and Shout (get it?). Each episode has The Fresh Beat Band solving problems, being positive, being good friends, working together and basically dealing with any situation a kid runs into on a daily basis. According to the press release "every episode will conclude with a “Fresh Beat Blast” where viewers have an opportunity to see themselves sing and dance on the show. The Fresh Beat Band" I was sent two episodes to preview the series. It was the first time I had ever seen an episode or even heard of the show. The set is bright, the clothes are bright and the acting is bright, but that's just how kids like it.
I like the fact that each episode tries to introduce kids to new music. This season, at a minimum will introduce children to Jazz, Conga, Bluegrass, Motown while also teaching about acoustic instruments, rhythm, Calliope and most importantly melody.
I'm not afraid to admit it, but I really like the music on the show. The songs are just insanely catchy. I like the music, but I'm not sure I can handle watching the non-musical hijinks of each episode. So my question to you Milwaukee Moms, is this a favorite in your household?
Check out a clip from the episode "Circus Mojo"
Episodes start airing this week at 10:30am on Nickelodeon.
Monday, Aug. 30 "Circus Mojo" (PREMIERE)
Tuesday, Aug. 31 "Honk Honk" (PREMIERE)
Wednesday, Sept. 1 "Camping with the Stars" (PREMIERE)
Thursday, Sept. 2 "Singin' in the Rain" (PREMIERE)
And The Song Goes.....
One, two pick up your shoes
To the closet they will go
Three four off the floor
Your toys are going home
Cake for Dinner is a worldly, family affair. The band calls the album: ‘A musical carpet ride around the world’ and they hit the nail on the head. The album is full of music from all over the world: Italy, Australia, Ukraine, Ireland and Argentina are all covered, plus a couple traditional campfire songs worked in for good measure. Cake for Dinner consists of four members of the Fedoryka family, two of whom are also in the band Scythian. In addition, this album includes numerous nieces and nephews singing vocals on several tracks.
Warning: I’m a lyrics guy and over half the album is instrumental tracks. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it – the instrumentals are very well done, but the songs with vocals really stand out. The album starts off with a raucous song about cleaning your room. Cleaning Hullabalo is such a fun song it just might – might – make your kids want to clean their room.
The handclapping, sing-along, campfire vibe of Flea is insanely fun. You and your kids will laugh when struggling to repeat many of the rapid fire lines, like: “itchy, itchy scratchy, scratchy oooh I got one on my back-y.” In The Trees is a subdued, banjo-led song with vocals strictly sung by the nieces and nephews.
South Australia reminds me a ton of Slade’s Run Run Away. One of the instrumental tracks is a fine version of the often covered Orange Blossom Special.
In conclusion, Cake for Dinner is a solid, if unspectacular debut kids record. Are there too many instrumentals? Probably, but the tracks with lyrics more than make up for it. I anxiously anticipate a second record where they might be more comfortable with the children’s music genre.
Bonus: We’ve got a copy to give away! Leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win.
My last post had video of the band performing Cleaning Hullabaloo. Here’s video of them performing Chasing Bunnies in our studio last week.
CD: Cake For Dinner
Artist: Cake For Dinner
Audience: 3-8 yrs old
Sounds Like: Hodge podge of world music.
Buy from: http://www.cakefordinnermusic.com/ Plus, if you buy the album it comes with a bonus poster of Bandit the Bunny!
1. Cleaning Hullabaloo
2. Chasing Bunnies
3. Sneaking Cookies
5. Orange Blossom Special
6. In the Trees
7. South Australia
8. Gypsy Moon
9. The Littlest Jig
10. Red Rover
12. Ukrainian Circle Dance
13. Lullaby for a Baby Niece
14. Twinkle Tango Bootleg