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
The Flannery Brothers’ debut CD, Love Songs for Silly Things, was a big hit in our house last year, and when I heard they had another disc on the way, I was filled with the kind of anticipation I don’t normally feel for Dadnabbit assignments. I mean, hey, I love kids’ music as much as the next guy, but if I get an e-mail telling me I have a new children’s CD on the way and something new from, say, K’naan or David Byrne…well, the kids’ stuff can wait.
But as soon as I received my copy of Move Over Lullabies…It’s Time for Wake Up Songs!, I tore off the plastic and put the disc in the CD tray. With the Flannery Brothers performing the songs, and a title like that, how can you go wrong?
Answer: You can’t. Wake Up Songs is very short — the whole thing is over in about 15 minutes — but as advertised, it’s a great way to start the day. Acoustic guitars, electric piano, and those Flannery harmonies come beaming out of the speakers, exhorting you to wake up, splash some water on your face, hop on your bike, and move your arms and legs. (Good advice for parents as well as children.) Nine times out of ten, a record like this would be stuffed with annoying, Spongebob-style hyper energy, but these are just fun, uptempo songs, warm and organic, and perfect for a dash of silly fun in the morning. Play it while you’re making breakfast for your little ones — twice in a row, even — and start looking forward to the Flannery Brothers’ next full-length, already in the works.
The Flannery Brothers – Love Songs for Silly Things (2009, self-released)
purchase from Amazon
I know we aren’t generally in the habit of giving bad reviews here — if we don’t think something is worth a dad’s hard-earned time and money, we simply won’t cover it — but the Flannery Brothers‘ Love Songs for Silly Things is a special case. As in an especially wonderful case. My house is a constant stream of kids’ music, and my 3.5-year-old daughter has reached the point where she doesn’t even bat an eyelash when a new CD or DVD arrives in the mail “for her.” With all that entertainment going on, it’s hard for one album to stand out, but Silly Things has done it, becoming an instant summer favorite for my daughter, my 21-month-old son, my wife, and even our visiting nephew, who turns 11 in September. Rare is the kids’ CD that doesn’t advertise itself as “fun for the whole family,” but this one really delivers on that promise; my nephew spent the better part of a week singing the chorus of “Broccoli Yet” under his breath, and my wife yelled “I love that CD!” when she walked in and found me writing this review. Continue reading