2013 has already been a fantastic year for kids and family music. For the second year in a row, the folks behind the annual “Fids and Kamily” Music Awards were kind enough to invite THE ROCK FATHER to join them as one of 27 judges tasked with choosing what will ultimately be cemented into history as the best family albums of the year. While the results are in, the year isn’t over yet. There’s still plenty more great albums that still need to be covered.
I’m featuring five albums right here on Chicago Parent this week that you should check out with your little ones. Among the five are a trio of artists that were runners-up at Fids and Kamily, two of which will be performing right here in the Windy City later this week. Ready to rock?
Caspar Babypants – “Baby Beatles!”
Who can blame The Beatles for the countless artists that have chosen to cover them over the past 50 years. After all, when you’re arguably the most influentialband of all time, others will follow, and within those ranks will be some who choose to pay rightful tribute. One of the latest is Chris Ballew, best-known as the voice of The Presidents of the United States of America. Beyond the world of “Lump,” “Peaches,” and the “Mach 5,” Ballew has been releasing family music under his Caspar Babypants alter-ego since 2009. His latest offering is “Baby Beatles!” – a collection of 20 classics originally performed by the Fab Four, all re-worked into Ballew’s whimsical, signature style. The little ones will be singing along to the songs of Lennon and McCartney in no-time at all. Available now on iTunes.
Red Yarn – “The Deep Woods”
The debut album from Portland’s Red Yarn (Andy Furgeson) is one of this fall’s true gems. After receiving a grant to remake traditional American songs into songs about animals, Furgeson held a community recording session to capture the voicesof more than 150 backing vocalists. The end result is an album of pure Americana, peppered with songs that would not feel out of place if they were to pop up locally on WXRT. But they’re about rabbits, snakes, birds and even “The Fox.” “The Deep Woods” is also beautifully packaged on CD, with photos depicting the puppets that help populate the deep woods of Red Yarn’s live show – a presentation of folk songs and puppetry for families. Available now on iTunes.
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo Crew & Family Too! – “Live at the Orange Peel”
Set for release on Nov. 19, “Live at the Orange Peel” captures one of my favorite kindie artists in a live setting, paired with Yo mama’s Big Fat Booty Band – a 10-piece funk outfit with crazy chops. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is in a league of his own as it is -premiere purveyor of “Kid Hop” – but hearing his rock songs from his first three albums alongside a full horn section? It’s fantastic and something that must be heard, absorbed, and appreciated. Legit hip-hop for all-ages. Get the album direct from the artist via BandCamp.
Mister G – “ABC Fiesta”
On this bilingual collection of songs, Mister G (Ben Gundersheimer) seamlessly blends English and Spanish for some foot-stomping results. Interestingly, Mister G says that his exploration of the Spanish language began along with his hope of one day becoming a Major League Baseball player. While his career path veered musical, he found himself further becoming immersed in the language through his extensive touring in Latin America and throughout the United States. My favorite cut here is “Ratones.” Available direct from the artist. Catch Mister G live at Schubas on Nov. 9.
Trout Fishing in America – “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers”
Don’t let the old school title scare you off, “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers” is the latest offering from four-time Grammy nominees Ezra Idlet and Keith Grimwood – two guys that were doing “kindie” before kindie was a thing. In fact, the duo behind Trout Fishing in America have been rocking together as long as I’ve been alive (that’s 37 years, should you be curious). Here we have a dozen new tracks, including the recently appropriate “Boo!” (a new Halloween staple), the southern fried “Zoo Wacky Zoo,” and the bluesy “It’s Not Mud,” which scores bonus points for featuring an appearance from the Sugar Free Allstars. Available now on iTunes. Catch Trout Fishing in America at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Nov. 10.