January 10, 2007
Kids' music

I'd been kicking around a post on kids' music in my mind for a couple of days now, since by necessity I hear a lot of it these days. The good news, as noted in this Chron article, is that there's actually a decent amount of kids' music out there that I can actually listen to. The story is about Olivia's very favorite program, Jack's Big Music Show, and the main artist it showcases, Laurie Berkner.

"We can see how Jack's Big Music Show is doing by how well Laurie Berkner's doing," said Brown Johnson, the executive in charge of preschool programming at Nickelodeon networks, of which Noggin is a part.

"Since Laurie's premiere on Noggin in 2004, she's been at the top of the hit parade for little kids," Johnson said. "Fifteen years ago most kids music on TV was nursery-rhymey stuff that was unpalatable to adults. It ain't happening on my watch."

Witness Jack's Big Music Show, which spawned a successful soundtrack CD in 2006.

Jack's is the second-highest-rated original program on Noggin, a commercial-free cable station available in 54 million households. It features the cheerful exploits of a tuneful trio of huggable puppets: the ebullient guitarist Jack; his accordion-squeezing best friend Mary; and his purple pal Mel, a dog of uncertain pedigree who does great things with a pair of drumsticks.

Anything can happen in Jack's backyard playhouse. On this season's debut, titled Snow Day, a Hawaiian beach party at the clubhouse goes dreadfully wrong when Mel's well-intentioned plan to pump sand onto the premises results in a blizzard. Between shivers the viewers are introduced to the ukulele and one rumbling member of the percussion section.

The boisterous Brooklyn band AudraRox, with its sassy bluegrass number I Hope My Mama Says Yes, is also featured in a video on Jack's new season. The hip-hop-collides-with-classical violin duo Nuttin' but Stringz, from Queens, will get national exposure on the show, too.

On Feb. 2 Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, is to appear on the show. Also scheduled for that episode is a raging rock video from Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips, paired with indie singer-songwriter Steve Burns, the original host of Blue's Clues.

Children's music on television has never been cooler.

I'll say. I was already familiar with some good music for kids - we took Olivia to see a performance by Trout Fishing In America a few weeks ago, and believe it or not the Asylum Street Spankers have released what they're calling a "family album". But JBMS has been a real trove of good music that Olivia likes and that we like as well - as Tiffany said when she pointed this story out to me, she doesn't feel silly any more humming Laurie Berkner tunes to herself all day long. I know just what she means. I plan to get some of the CDs mentioned in this story for Olivia (and yes, Dwight, I'll rip them to the iPod, too) - at the very least the soundtrack, some Berkner, and Audra Rox for sure. If you've got young'uns around, check some of these folks out. Your sanity will thank you.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 10, 2007 to Music | TrackBack

JBMS is our daughter's favorite show as well. I'm glad they've finally gotten around to releasing some new episodes, as the rest of us were getting a bit sick of Prudence the Music Genie and Sheldon the Grumpy Squirrel.

But it was pretty cool seeing Buddy Guy as the King of Swing.

And...Prudence is kind of hot.

Posted by: Pete on January 10, 2007 8:16 AM

Some of it is so sappy I want to take a nailgun to my skull rather than listen to the CD yet one more time in the car.

However there is some good fun stuff. My kids are big fans of Bill Harley. He's done some great kids songs as covers to classic rock tunes that are great. If you haven't found Bill Harley yet, give him a listen. Olivia might be a tiny bit young for him. My 3 year old likes him but my 8 year old LOVES him.

Posted by: Kent from Waco on January 10, 2007 8:35 AM

I remember when my daughter, then 3, looked at our stack of Raffi and Wiggles CDs and asked, "Why is it all boys?" Our subsequent hunt for female kid's music artists led us to Laurie Berkner. We had the chance to see her live in a small auditorium in Minneapolis, and the first thing she did was have the house lights brought up so she could see the audience. Afterwards, she (and the band - Suzie and future-hubby Brian at that point) sat outside and gave autographs and hugs to everyone who wanted them -- and everyone did. She was every bit as nice in person as she is on the CD.

My kids are past that stage now , but I have fond memories of LB.

BTW - I don't know who the artist is, but "Cow Tunes," "Moose Tunes," and "Bear Tunes" are quite listenable (i.e., they won't drive an adult insane), too.

Posted by: CrispyShot on January 10, 2007 8:46 AM

Heard most of the Spankers' kids album at a special Rock N Romp show they had here a few months ago, and it's definitely good stuff. Haven't bought it yet but plan to.

Posted by: M1EK on January 10, 2007 8:47 AM

As the mother of two boys: 4 and 7 - I took the opposite view that we would not 'do' Radio Disney et al (we also 'do' very little TV). Instead we listen to Jack FM here in Dallas which plays a huge variety of music from the 70's, 80's, 90's and today. It is great - and the boys especially like it when I tell them about the four R.E.M. concerts I went to etc. when a song by THAT band comes on.
Currently, my 7-year-old's favorite band is Nickelback (uh-oh!) and my 4-year-old's favorite band is Queen! :-)

That being said - I have been in love with Murray the Wiggle for years! ;-0

Posted by: Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner on January 10, 2007 9:00 AM