The growing season is in full swing. New releases are literally sprouting up throughout the children’s music field. Here are two of my favorite picks—guaranteed to be fresh and good for the ears, hearts and minds of your children.
BANJO TO BEATBOX, by Cathy & Marcy with Christylez Bacon; Community Music, download: $6.99, EP disc: $7.99, www.cathymarcy.com; age 5-12.
Cathy and Marcy are seasoned veterans in the children’s and family music scene. On Banjo To Beatbox, Cathy and Marcy team up with hip-hop sensation Christylez Bacon for a musical adventure that connects the traditional with the contemporary. This combination, where folk music meets the raps and rhythms of hip-hop, creates a delightful, groove-filled musical hybrid.
Bacon is amazing as a beatbox (mouth drums) artist and his playful musical nature fits right in with Cathy and Marcy’s mission of community music making. "Beatbox is roots music with recent urban origins, but based on a long tradition of African rhythms," Cathy says. "The banjo also originally comes from Africa, so this really makes sense."
They kick it off with "Jubilation," where the trio sets the tone and states their case: "One thing that would help this nation is more music and jubilation."
Next, Bacon really gets it movin’ with "It’s the Beatbox," where he demonstrates and helps explain the human mouth drum. And before I forget, be sure to check out the video version, a live performance of "It’s The Beatbox," which is included on the disc.
Marcy is featured in the third song with the "Syncopated Washboard Rhythm Song," where the beatbox rhythms fit seamlessly into the rhythms of the old-time washboard. Other standouts in this eight-song disc include the traditional, but always delightful, "Froggy Went A Courtin’," the 21st-century "Hip-Hop Humpty Dumpty" and "New River Train," another folk classic.
Though there are only eight songs, the disc also includes three great videos. Be sure to check out the Web site (www.cathymarcy.com) for all the details.
TEASPOON AT A TIME, by Dave Kinnoin; Song Wizard Music, $14.95, www.songwizard.com; age 5-12.
One more CD that knocked me off my feet this month was the latest release by Dave Kinnoin, another member of children’s music’s upper echelon. He has that rare ability to write from a child’s point of view, put into words what kids are thinking about and use his songs as gentle but powerful teaching tools for parents and teachers.
"How Good It Feels" gets to the heart of Kinnoin’s music-making mission by reminding us all about the joy of giving of yourself. "Maybe I Will" is a great discussion starter for parents (and teachers) as it explores situations where children are confronted with the choice of whether or not to do the right thing. "Lonely Me" is a very touching song about losing a friend, while "It’s Not Okay" helps kids find the words to say when friends do things that are wrong. "My Song" helps reinforce for children the power of our individuality and dreams.
Be sure to stop by his Web site (www.songwizard.com) where you can sample songs and buy single downloads of each song.
Fred Koch lives in Lake Bluff with his wife and son and is an award-winning music educator, recording artist and producer. His Web site, BestChildrensMusic.com, helps parents, teachers and librarians select quality children’s music. E-mail him at fred@best