If you’ve been reading Dadnabbit for any length of time, you already know I’m a huge Caspar Babypants fan. We gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to the last Babypants joint, This Is Fun!, and I had a great time during my conversation with Caspar (a.k.a. Chris Ballew, part-time frontman for Presidents of the United States of America) back in April. The bottom line is that he’s a smart guy who cares a lot about what families listen to together, and he has the instantly addictive songs to prove it.
“How addictive?” you ask. Well, here’s the most recent example in our house: The new Caspar Babypants record, Sing Along!, arrived in my mailbox right before I left for a 10-day visit to my sister, who just had her first baby. By the time I returned home, my wife and kids had all memorized every line of the album — and my daughter had already serenaded her new cousin with a solo Flip cam rendition of the beautiful Sing Along! track “Crawl.” Continue reading →
I hope you did your duty and participated in the first round of voting yesterday — Out with the Kids embedded those videos all nice and pretty for you, and if we don’t exercise our voting rights, that just invites unscrupulous people to come and take advantage of the process. How do you think Raffi won all those Grammys? (Note: I don’t know if Raffi has actually won any Grammys. But he seems shifty.)
Anyway, today we’ve moved on to the Ella Jenkins Regional, and four more videos fighting to make it to the next round. Let’s watch, and then head over to Ages 3 and Up to vote!
#1 Seed: John Upchurch and Mark Greenberg, “A Counting Error”
I don’t know how I’ve missed hearing this song until now, but it’s great — and my kids, who both giggled for about 45 seconds straight when it started playing, agree. The clip is charmingly lo-fi in a pleasantly retro way — in fact, the numbers/letters segments remind me of something I might have seen on Sesame Streetduring my long-ago youth. If I didn’t live in the middle of the woods where there’s no cellphone reception, I’d make “A Counting Error” my ringtone. Bravo.
Ella Jenkins is called the first lady of children’s music, and for good reason — she is a Lifetime Grammy Achievement Award winner who has been recording for over 50 years, and with her new album, A Life of Song, she’s still going strong. I was thrilled and honored to spend some time with her on the phone recently, talking about her amazing life and career.
So let’s talk about A Life of Song. You’ve certainly lived one.
Well, I’ll tell you. I liked to sing when I was a small child. Not that my mother or father sang, but my uncle introduced me to music, as well as my first instrument, which was the harmonica. I really enjoyed that. I’m not a formal musician, I’ve just always done it by ear, and that’s how I share it with people today. I would still encourage anyone to train formally, but you don’t have to — just by singing, or even through exposure to music, you’re part of it. Often that’s what children do — they listen to music and then take parts of what they hear to make their own. I’ve always hummed or whistled or something. You don’t need an instrument or a band — birds sing all the time. Continue reading →