Lucky Diaz, The Green Orbs, & More |ClefNotes

Ten reviews of children's music CDs that are great for family time, story time, or anytime,.

Buenos Diaz. Performed by The Lucky Band. CD. Approx. 30 min. Rainy Day Dimes Music. 2019. $12.
PreS-Gr 5 –With their most recent album, Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis, formerly Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, have rebranded themselves as the Lucky Band. While they may have a new name, their clever bilingual lyrics and playfulness remain. Driving beats propel songs such as “¿Como Se Dice?” which asks how do you say words such as stars, chocolate, and sun in Spanish, and “El Corazon,” which dares listeners to try and stay still during this boogie-filled tune. Children will love singing along with the “Nacho Song,” which features Andrew and Polly, and learning the steps to the “Taco Tuesday” dance. Things do slow down on occasion as with the bossa nova beats of “Wake Up” and the lovely retro sounds of “Estrellita.” VERDICT No matter what name they are performing under, Diaz and Gaddis have added another round of showstoppers to their repertoire. A must have for every collection. –Veronica ­De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

Kindred. Performed by Renee & Friends. CD. 30 mins. One Melody Records. 2019. CD or Download: $13.98.
PreS-Gr 5 –In this follow-up to the first Renee & Friends album, 2015’s Simpatico, Renee is joined by a new group of talented friends who take on songs that encourage kindness and love. The opening track “Kindness Is Cool,” performed by Renee and Jeremy, is a reminder of the importance of being kind to one another. The album includes a top-notch performance by Renee’s 12-year-old daughter, Amelia, on “Super Fragile World” as well as a lovely cover of the Cat Stevens tune, “Where Do the Children Play?” with vocals by Renee and Ziggy Marley. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo provides a powerful rap for “Leaders of the World,” while beautiful vocals provided by the Cold Spring School Chorus capture the essence of the song. Additional friends on the album include Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell who join Renee in their rendition of the classic, “High Hopes.” Renee’s crystal-clear voice shines on “Nothing and No One,” which focuses on the fact that there is nothing in the world that could take away a mother’s love for her children and which could easily be used as a lullaby. The last track on the album, “How Did You Get So?” is a gorgeous song that asks a child, how did you get so sweet/smart/beautiful? VERDICT Every family would benefit from taking a few minutes to enjoy the messages of peace and love that fill this album.– Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

Kitty Cat Under My Wheelchair. Performed by Steve Pullara. CD. Approx. 33 min. Cool Beans Music. 2018. CD: $10.28; Download: $9.49.
K-Gr 3 –Steve Pullara’s latest album is from the point of view of Jamey, a boy who uses a wheelchair to get around. The album alternates between songs and spoken narratives, which give further glimpses into Jamey’s family, friends, and activities. Pullara performs the 10 songs in bluegrass, rock, pop, and zydeco musical styles. The Cool Beans Band puts their musical skills to work on guitar, banjo, bass, dobro, keyboards, drums, and percussion. “Kitty Cat Under My Wheelchair” is an ode to his pet housecat. Jamey has fun playing “Marco Polo” at the local swimming pool. Jamey also dreams of “A Giant Ice Cream Sundae.” At the family picnic, Jamey discovers that “I Got the Hiccups.” The family is engaged in “Watching the Whales” on their family trip. Jamey’s parents promise that they are “Always Gonna Be There with You” and see him through. In “If Every Cookie Was Perfect,” Jamey wonders “what if Goldilocks and the Three Bears partied together.” Towards the end of summer, Jamey is actually weary of lounging around and wants to go “Back to School.” VERDICT This compassionate album is for all children.– Beverly Wrigglesworth, formerly of San Antonio Public Library, TX

Pelican Pilot: Songs of Florida. Performed by Dorothy Cresswell. CD. Approx. 33 min. Dorothy Cresswell. 2019. $12.97.
K-Gr 3 –Dorothy Cresswell, creator of the children’s television program The Curious Giraffe Show, performs 12 original folk songs, mostly about her winter home in Florida. She is accompanied by Katie Tolles and others on guitar, bass, and flute. The songs feature nice harmonies, and children join in on some of the songs. The wind is calling people to “Florida, Florida.” The “Pelican Pilot” is a magician at sea. The “Curious Giraffe in Florida” asks animals questions such as why a giraffe walks, but a pelican flies. “Mary Manatee” and her fellow manatees trust people to keep them safe from harm. Children watching “Seahorse Daddies” at the aquarium learn the interesting reproduction habits of seahorses. A Vermont family invents a new bottle dispenser for “Space Age Syrup” that makes its way into space for use by astronauts. “They’ve Done It Again” when children help save manatees, help keep a bookstore in business, and keep a tree from being cut down. The other songs include “Florida Morning Winds,” “Little Sandpiper,” “Swift River Paddling Song,” “Navigating Friendship,” and “Kindness March.” VERDICT The simple but lively tunes not only will keep children listening, but teach them about Florida and its animals. –Beverly Wrigglesworth, formerly of San Antonio Public Library, TX

Quiet Night: A Collection of Lullabies. Performed by Angela James. CD. Approx. 25 min. Queen Anne Music. 2019. $10.
PreS-Gr 3 –Angela James and Jordan Martins craft eight beautiful, dreamy lullabies, that will prepare babies for sleep, and also lessen stress for weary and emotional parents. The two instrumental pieces, “Hummingbird” and “Hattie’s Dream,” are performed in gentle, soothing tones with melodic instruments including guitar, bass clarinet, bassoon, and vibraphone. “Goodnight, My Honey” depicts the onset of night time, with everything in the city slowing down. A child is the parent’s “Sun and Moon,” and the center of their universe. In “You’re Always at Home,” a parent promises to stay near their baby. The parent asks their “Sweetest Bird” to take their hand and drift off to sleep and promises that the parent will be there when the baby awakes. In a “Quiet Night,” a parent will hold the baby close until the birds sing, and the sun rises. Sleep is likened to “Sailing,” as the parent rocks the baby to sleep. VERDICT Angela’s deep, rich alto voice will soothe and lull young ones to sleep as well as help ­de-stress parents. –­Beverly Wrigglesworth, formerly of San Antonio Public Library, TX

 

Shake It and Break It. Performed by Randy Kaplan. CD. 54:30 min. Yellow Things Records and Books. 2019. $11.99.
K-Gr 5 –In his latest album for families, Kaplan presents a collection of 12 ragtime, country, and Delta blues classics. Taking on songs made popular by the likes of Mississippi John Hurt, Charlie Patton, and John Lee Hooker, Kaplan reinterprets the lyrics to be appropriate for young ears, while maintaining the integrity of the original tunes. Covering topics such as a child’s fear of all the things that could be living in the lake, a cautionary tale about eating too much candy, and the parent’s empathetic point of view “when things go wrong, so wrong with you, it hurts me too,” each song is a skillfully crafted, entertaining blend of impressive guitar picking and singing-storytelling. Liner notes provide historical context as well as insight as to how and why lyrics were changed for the target audience. VERDICT This is an excellent introduction to musical genres that children might otherwise never experience. –Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library, IL

The Something of Love. Performed by Purple Fox and the Heebie Jeebies. CD. Approx. 39 min. Josh Friedman. 2018. $10.
PreS-Gr 3 –What could be better than an album that encourages good manners, generosity, and love? Josh Friedman leads his band in performing 11 original upbeat reggae tunes. Lively guitars, funky bass, and blaring horns accompany the songs, along with talented children on some of the songs. It’s going to be a “Perfect Day” because everything is going my way. A child asks if another child will be his best friend “Forever Everyday.” “The Something of Love” lifts you up when you share. Come on over, “You’re Welcome” at my house. “I Love You, Infinity” because there is no limit to the love I have for family and friends. The album encourages good manners with “Please,” “Thank You,” and “Sorry.” The other songs include “We Got It (Our Time Together),” “Sharing Is Caring,” and “S’alright.” VERDICT A great album to familiarize children with the reggae musical style. –Beverly Wrigglesworth, formerly of San Antonio Public Library, TX

Thumb Wrestling Champions. Performed by The Green Orbs. CD. Approx. 40 min. Mama Bird Music. 2018. $10.
K-Gr 5 –The Green Orbs, featuring Eddie RosenBerg III and his sister Heather Hirshfield, were influenced by the Beatles, oldies radio, and 80s songs. Performing 14 original songs in various styles of rock, jazz, pop, country, and a piano waltz, they are assisted by excellent backup musicians on guitar, bass, keyboards, ukulele, saxophone, trumpet, accordion, drums, washboard, and even a toy frog. “Thumb Wrestling Champions” features tournaments of ninja vs. wizard, teddy bear vs. pirate, sasquatch vs. Abe Lincoln, and other unlikely pairings. “The Suction Cup Shuffle” motivates listeners to dance along with the music. “Doug the Bug” boasts that he can clean the rug. “Outside” extols the joy of outdoor activities. “Ruby the Tooth Fairy” assists Sally in finding her tooth when it goes missing at the beach. A struggling student and other children seek “Tips from Toby the Turtle.” One can find beauty in ordinary places, such as a “Flower in My Shower,” and similar beauties in the grocery store and office. A man called “Robert Broccoli” sits in the park and feeds broccoli florets to the birds. Monty, the only “Duck of Whistleburg,” is upset when a new duck shows up in town, because he thinks he will be replaced. The “Twelve Steps to Eating Your Veggies” include holding your nose, closing your eyes, not “freaking out,” and more. “Soup” is the best food in the world. Interspersed throughout the album are three silly advertisements for “Monster Spray.” VERDICT A funny album that will have listeners rolling on the floor laughing. –Beverly Wrigglesworth, ­formerly of San Antonio Public Library, TX

Treasury. Performed by Songeez. CD. Approx. 31 min. Dean Jones and Michael Rachap. 2018. $15.
PreS-Gr 3 –Songeez (Michael and Marty Rachap and Dean Jones) perform 25 lively original songs in rock and pop musical styles on piano and percussion. Listeners can also hear a variety of sound effects throughout the recording. The songs cover numerous topics including addition, chandeliers, circles and squares, counting (by 1s, 5s, and 10s), flip flops, haircuts, climbing mountains, telling time with an analog clock, transportation, watermelons, names of the 50 states, hearts, and unopened gifts. A few of the song titles are “April Fool,” “Big in Mind,” “Catch With Anything,” “Isabel Waters” (a girl with a story to tell and a song in her head), “The Land of I Don’t Know,” “Little Song,” “Something You Haven’t Seen,” “A Special Name for Twelve,” and “Speculate.” VERDICT These very short songs (most are less than two minutes long) will be a great addition to classrooms or ­library story times. –Beverly Wrigglesworth, formerly of San Antonio Public Library, TX

Under the Big Umbrella. Performed by Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could. CD. 40:42 min. Bumblin’ Bee Records. 2019. $13.99.
PreS-Gr 5 –Inspired by those striving to create cultures of kindness in their schools and communities, Rymer’s latest album for families is filled with important messages for listeners of all ages. The title track, “Under the Big Umbrella” was written for Lincoln Center’s inaugural Big Umbrella Festival, a celebration for children with autism and their families, and invites everyone to sing and dance however they want under the accepting protection of the big umbrella. The upbeat, positive messages continue with a collection of enjoyable original and cover songs. Rymer is joined by Sonia De Los Santos on a country-tinged bilingual version of the Woody Guthrie tune, “Don’t You Push Me Down,” while on his groovy take on “I’m Coming Out,” Rymer fills breaks in the song with children’s answers to the question, “What do you want the world to know?” Additional covers include Jimmy Cliff’s “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” and the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.” From “You Do You” to “Thank You for Being You” the importance of being happy and confident in yourself is emphasized without ever becoming overly didactic. VERDICT Rain or shine, families will find themselves right at home Under the Big Umbrella. –Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

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