Whether you are someone who makes weekly visits to your local music store, a regular iTunes shopper or a torrent delinquent, there is one purchase I implore you to make this week. Not only is it for a great cause, but the music included is top-notch.
Released today, Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti is a compilation album filled with marquis names in family music. Featuring both previously unreleased tracks as well as new songs recorded especially for this effort, ‘Many Hands’ is also the debut release on Bill Childs’ Spare the Rock Records. As the title suggests, all proceeds from this album will go to Haitian People’s Support Project, a non-profit working to help the people of Haiti, still devastated since the January 12, 2010 earthquake.
Dean Jones of family music sensation Dog on Fleas was one of the spearheads behind this project, and his band can also be found on this compilation. Other artists on board include Dan Zanes, Elizabeth Mitchell, They Might be Giants, Gustafer Yellowgold, Caspar Babypants, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. And that’s just a small sample!
If you live in one of the areas below, be sure to check out one of these family music star-studded CD release events.
• Sunday August, 15: Dog on Fleas, Grenadilla, Uncle Rock, Rosendale Theater, Rosendale, NY (Details)
• Friday, August 20: Elizabeth Mitchell & Family and Frances England, Mill Valley Library, Mill Valley, CA (free) (Details)
• Saturday, August 21: Dog on Fleas, Lunch Money, Randy Kaplan, Deedle Deedle Dees, Armory, Somerville, MA (Details & ticket link)
• Saturday, September 11, 11:00: Randy Kaplan, Johnny Bregar, and Recess Monkey, Multnomah Arts Center, Portland, OR, presented by A Child’s Time to Rock! (Tickets)
• Saturday, September 11: Deedle Deedle Dees, Gustafer Yellowgold, Dog on Fleas, Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY
• Sunday, September 26: Dan Zanes, Elizabeth Mitchell & Family, Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Deedle Deedle Dees, Tony Vacca, Grenadilla, Pines Theater, Look Park, Northampton, MA. (Tickets)
Buy the album now!
The art of the music video is generally lost on today’s youth. While the occasional video from OK Go or the like may attract some viral attention, today’s teen looks to MTV for reality programming like Jersey Shore or 16 and Pregnant. In general, unlike my generation, today’s millennials are not tuning in to see the world premiere of a video by a breakthrough artist to admire the new special effects, styles or dance moves. MTV has shifted so far away from its original purpose of featuring the work of new and favorite music artists that it recently dropped the “Music Television” caption.
Entrepreneurs Randall Green and Dan Gellert may be in position to change to change this dying art form.
These two gentlemen realized their two preschool-aged girls were absolutely in love with music. However, there was no way these dads were going to allow themselves to listen to irritating kids’ tunes. So, tapping into the growing kindie scene, they decided to launch their own online music video and radio station for kids, jitterbug.tv.
Jitterbug.tv is a one-stop destination for independent children’s musicians to share their music videos and songs, and for parents to introduce quality music to their kids. The sites offers both streaming videos and songs, all congregated in one location to avoid endless YouTube and web radio surfing.
One thing that amazed me when surfing through the videos on this site was the imagination and work put into the music videos. From the candy-colored world of The Jimmies videos, to Gustafer Yellowgold’s original animated pieces to the low budget-and-endearing Recess Monkey shorts, music videos have become an essential part of the kindie scene. As the scene itself grows, and music videos get more viewings, jitterbug may be a key contributor to the rebirth of the format as well as the growing kindie music genre as a whole.
Co-founder Dan Gellert, also a Grammy award winner and music industry veteran, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. Check out his Nugget Island interview below.
Nugget Island: What has been the general reaction from the artist community?
Dan Gellert: Most artists have been enthusiastic to get involved with jitterbug. Many artists contact us to get posted. I think they know the audience is totally focused on kids’ music, so it’s a good place to show your videos and music. And we are all for promoting great artists.
N.I.: Were you a big music video fan as a youth?
D.G.: I was not a big music video fan actually. I’ve always appreciated a well-crafted song, whether it be a pop production or a loose folky song – if it is well put together, I pay attention. I think a video can enhance a song, especially today when video is integrated in our online life so much. I’ve noticed toddlers love the music videos but given the right context, they really pay attention to songs with no videos also.
N.I.: How have your daughters reacted to this site?
D.G.: My daughter asks for jitterbug by name – and that is the goal, for jitterbug to enter the fabric of toddlers parents’ lives and be the starting place to find fun music and videos.
N.I.: Looking at the music industry, are there any business models that you respect or admire?
D.G.: I think the business model of offering part of a service for free and having a premium service that people pay for is a good model.
N.I.: What advice would you give to a family music artist trying to make a name for themselves in the industry?
D.G.: First, write music that is honest and appeals to parents and kids. Don’t try too hard to make it “kid friendly”; the kids comprehend more than we know. If you are serious about getting into this niche, there are many internet tools to help you market to your audience, distribute your music, gather fans…. a good starting point for the Do It Yourself artist is here: http://www.topspinmedia.com/
N.I.:Where do you see the kindie scene going in the next few years?
D.G.: My crystal ball tells me the Kindie music niche is going to keep growing and more artists will start making a living at it. I think the production quality will become better and more “venues” will pop up to accommodate all those enthusiastic toddlers with parents.
N.I.: Any future plans for jitterbug you are comfortable sharing?
D.G.: Jitterbug is going into phase 2, which will be rolling out more features on the website, more fan engagement and interacting with mobile devices as well as helping more artists promote themselves.
Check out jitterbug now!
The emergence of two early 90′s acts on the kindie/family music scene has been getting some attention recently, and deservingly so. Chris Ballew of 90′s alternative rock band The Presidents of the United States of America emerged last year with his excellent kids’ project, Caspar Babypants. Shortly afterward, 90′s rock band and “Freshman” singers The Verve Pipe came out with their top-notch kids’ release A Family Album. Both of these artists are high on our list of favorites in this household. But while the press seems to thematically lump them together based on their previous musical history, despite their very different sounds, I realized that they were leaving another key band out of the mix.
Definitely judge this album by its cool cover
The Not-Its! are a Seattle-based kindie band, burning up the blogosphere since the debut of their album, We Are the Not-Its! in June 2009. Like the aforementioned bands, The Not-Its! are tied to the 90′s through their lead singer, Sarah Shannon. Sarah was the one-time lead singer of successful Sub Pop indie pop band Velocity Girl. Sarah, along with her other Not-Its! bandmates Danny, Tom, Mike and Nori, were inspired to create this new musical project as a way to balance being a parent with their love of music and non-profit projects.
But perhaps an even more important similarity to Ballew’s Caspar Babypants project and The Verve Pipe album is the high quality of the Not-Its’ music and their commitment to the genre.
After a string of festival appearances last year, The Not-Its! will be pounding the pavement in ’10 to get the word out on this release. Lucky visitors to their shows will see the band members giving it their all in their trademark pink tutus for the girl members and pink skinny ties for the guy members. Those not lucky enough to see a show can simply pick up or download their debut album We Are the Not-Its!.
While the band is not afraid to play around with styles throughout their album, their general sound is pop-rock fun. They wear their 90′s modern rock background on their sleeves from the get-go with lead-off title track “We Are the Not-Its!,” a fast driving pop-punk tune with some kid-chanting thrown in. “Come Play At Our House” slows things down a bit, offering a more familiar kindie pop sound about a playdate that expands across the universe. The album also includes guitar-driven pop celebrating standard moments in a kid’s life like bath time (“B.A.T.H.”), summer camping trips (“I Love Camping”) and the joy of compromising (“The Great Compromise”).
Although Sarah Shannon is the lead vocalist, different members often take the mike, as is the case with “When I’m Five,” a song for the Green Day fan in the van about going off to kindergarten. As hinted earlier, the band plays around with styles, as is the case with piano-driven ode to a “Helicopter,” where the guitar takes backseat and the word “Beatlesque” comes to mind. Things even get a tad twangy on “Dressin’ Up,” a ditty about the family stepping out on the town. Finally, props to the Not-Its! for not only creating a top-notch party song but also turning birthday into a verb with “Let’s Birthday.”
I’m hoping this sincere, quality effort from The Not-Its! sets a standard in family music for others musicians considering exploring the kindie music genre. Together, Chris Ballew, The Verve Vipe and Sarah Shannon & co are showing that family music isn’t a type of music artists “fall back on.” Instead, they are proving it is a wonderful, creative outlet that allows for original music experimentation and limitless lyrical-play and comes with an open-minded, receptive audience. Check out We Are the Not-Its! online now and listen to samples of their music.
The Not-Its! bring music and skinny ties to adoring fans