Category: Entertainment + Media

Congratulations to Grammy winners, The Okee Dokee Brothers!

We are so thrilled to learn that last night’s Grammy for best children’s album went to a longtime favorite of ours, the Okee Dokee Brothers’  Can You Canoe? In fact, our own kids’ music expert, Christina Refford, called it the best kids CD of 2012, so we’re glad to see the (clearly brilliant) Grammy judges agreed. I still remember when Christina first shared the Minneapolis duo’s 2008 release, Kids With Beards, and told me, “these guys are great! Really different…but I think they could be really big.” She included them in her favorite kids’ albums of 2008, and again in 2010. And now…the big time! Can you tell we’re just thrilled for them? (Plus, they’re so nice!) Justin Lancing and Joe Mailander with Christina and Liz’s kids at Kindiefest, 2010 As our regular readers know, our heart has always been with the small artist, the little guy, the moms and pops on their way up the ladder. And the same goes for our ongoing coverage of amazing Kindie Rock musicians who make listening fun for everyone in the family, even if they’re not all household names. Yet. Be sure to check out our review of Can You Canoe?, download, and see for yourself why this bluegrass and American roots band is just so captivating. You don’t even have to be a...

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The Sesame Street Downton Abbey video. Hilarious!

Considering how addicted we are to Downton Abbey, we just couldn’t wait to tell you about the new Sesame Street Downton Abbey parody called “Upside Downton Abbey” that will air next week. The parody, which stars the Dowager Countess of Grantham and Carson the Butler at tea, is almost exactly like the real thing, complete with English accents and the drama that we all love, except with a hilarious Sesame Street twist. Enjoy the sneak peek. –Pilar Watch the full Sesame Street Downton Abbey when it airs Monday, Feb. 4. on...

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A musical playdate you indie-music parents won’t want to skip

Still have your kids’ attention? Lucky you! That means there’s still time to fill their ears with music that will make your own indie-music-loving soul happy–before the siren song of Call Me Maybe has imprinted on their poor susceptible souls for life. So you’ll want to check out a new CD that is full of indie cred from the new label by Skankin’ Pickle’s Mike Park, but with lyrics for those who can’t stay up past 8pm.  Fronted by Greg Attonito, singer in punk band Bouncing Souls, Play Date has him joining up with his wife Shanti Wintergate in their first release, Imagination.  And while...

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Vered makes music for babies that you can love too. In other words, not too babyish.

I have no doubt of the power of music to soothe the savage beast–or the overtired 6 month old child. If you too are looking for something lovely, lyrical, and fun-to-hear to play for your little one, here’s a wonderful CD by a kindie artist and music therapist who writes songs that are designed to help you bond with your baby. Especially useful on those days when they’ve had you up since before dawn. Singer, songwriter, and mama, Vered Benhorin, has created Good Morning My Love, a CD of 18 gentle songs specifically for those first two years of...

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The best Schoolhouse Rock videos on YouTube – Happy Birthday Schoolhouse Rock!

Schoolhouse Rock for me, is more than just a part of my childhood, it’s a part of my family. As a kid, my dad worked at the ad agency with creator David McCall, and the other writers and art directors who brought us this genius educational series. In fact, one of my favorite memories as a kid was sitting in the agency screening room with my brother, watching them on the reel-to-reel (yes, I’m dating myself!) without waiting for Saturday morning TV. I love so much that now my own kids are fans of the series, and in fact...

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The Board of Education makes smart music the kids want to hear in Binary

They Might Be Giants makes it sound so easy to put together educational music that is fun and doesn’t sound like a lesson plan, but–take it from this homeschooling mama–it isn’t so easy to do. In fact, I’ve found that there isn’t a lot out there that the kids want to hear in the realm of educational tunes. But thanks to this band from Seattle that has the touch, we’ve found a CD full of smart songs the kids choose to listen to at any time of the day. {Keep reading for a chance to win a copy of...

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Elizabeth Mitchell’s latest kindie CD takes on Bowie, Hendrix and your kid’s playlist

Smithsonian Folkways artist Elizabeth Mitchell has one of those crystal clear, beautiful voices that can take any song and turn it into the musical equivalent of spun gold. And while she has already released the much-loved, Grammy-nominated collection of Woody Guthrie covers earlier this year, she has more songs to give us. In fact, her latest release mixes traditional American folk with original tunes and covers from everyone from David Bowie to Van Morrison to Jimi Hendrix. Yes, really. Besides her gorgeous voice, what unifies all of her songs on Blue Clouds are the lyrics that reflect qualities I...

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Les Miserables movie review: Quite easily the movie of the year

Let me start by saying I am not some Les Mis groupie. I have never seen the play or even read Victor Hugo’s book, so it’s not like I have childhood memories to stir up. That said, I cannot think of the last time I walked out of a movie saying, I can’t wait to see that again. And that’s exactly what you’d have heard me say immediately following a preview screening of Les Miserables. At least you might have heard it, if could understand me through the sniffles and the tears still running down my face. [Read on for...

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Little Golden Records brings back a tune of nostalgia

The world of children’s music has come a long way, baby. I definitely grew up in simpler times, lying on my bedroom floor listening to record-album recordings of my favorite stories. While it’s incredible to have such diverse offerings for our kids today, there is something about that timeless, pure, old-school style of storytelling that I still have a soft spot for deep down. Naturally I was thrilled when I discovered the new re-imagined Golden Records collection. Golden Records has revived the series which began way back in 1948 by music producer Arthur Shimkin, and is bringing it back to life with...

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Spruce up your holiday CD collection with the new releases from some of kindie’s favorites

As much as I love the holidays, hearing Christmas music in stores and on the car radio since Halloween has squashed my desire for another spin of Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. Luckily, like a surprise from Santa’s elves, three of kindie’s biggest and best names have released collections of holiday tunes that have rekindled my Christmas spirit. –Christina With a peppy, kid-pop sound, A Laurie Berkner Christmas is full of Christmas cheer, jingly bells, and songs of which you’ll know at least the first verse. Play this during your kids’ school party, while decorating the tree,...

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A wonderful new lullaby CD for moms tired of Brahms…or just plain tired

Stocking-stuffer alert for the sleep-deprived: I’m used to listening to Justin Roberts‘ songs with the kids in the car, with the volume turned up more than halfway. In my opinion, he is one of the best at sing-along choruses, clever wordplay, and high-energy kid-pop. Turns out he’s also pretty darned good at taking the tempo down–way down–and putting us all to sleep.  {Keep reading for a way to win a copy of this CD!} In his 10-song CD Lullaby, Justin Roberts soothes kiddos (and weary parents) to sleep with some peaceful sheep-counting imagery, gentle love songs, and short storytelling. And while...

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Pixar’s animated shorts collections will make your little movie lovers smile

I still remember the very first Pixar short film I ever saw, way back in 1986. It was called Luxo Jr. and told the story of two lamps playing with a ball. Such a simple story, from the little start-up animation company that grew big. Fast forward a whole bunch of years, and Disney PIXAR feature films are now among every kid’s favorites, but the short films are no less compelling. Which is why this new collection makes a fabulous holiday gift. Pixar Short Films Collection 2 pulls together a dozen animated shorts for your family to enjoy in one...

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This just in: The top kids’ CD’s of 2012 as announced by Fids and Kamily

Just in time for holiday shopping, Fids and Kamily has released their Top 15 Kids CD’s of 2012 this morning. Which means that you now have a bunch of great gift ideas for every kid on your list that you won’t mind listening to either. You’re welcome. This list isn’t created by any one person, but by combining the votes from journalists, bloggers, publicists, radio show hosts. . .and yours truly. So it truly is the top collective picks of a whole big group of us who listen to an awful lot of kids’ music. Who won? Well, the...

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Wishing for a great kids’ CD? Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well

My singing voice is best kept in the shower. But that didn’t stop me from singing to my kids when they were younger, though I’d usually do it along with the lovelier voices of Laurie Berkner, Frances England, and Charlie Hope. (I think my kids appreciated this.) Here’s another wonderful voice I can’t help but sing along with. I think you will too. Canada’s Jennifer Gasoi recently released her second kids’ CD, Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well, and it is packed with 18 oh-so-pretty original tunes. And though the lyrics speak directly to kids who might wonder...

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Annie the Musical is back on Broadway! The sun is out, people.

I am old enough to remember the original Annie on Broadway, starring Andrea McArdle. That show had me and a zillion other little girls dreaming of living in a mansion with a swimming pool and a cute dog–although maybe keeping our own parents. So when I heard Annie was coming back to Broadway this year, I jumped at the chance to bring my daughters to a preview. I can’t say that the Annie revival quite lives up to the original 70s debut, although there are some very good performances indeed. Katie Finneran absolutely shines (like the top of the Chrysler Building?)...

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We’re grooving on Ozomatli’s rockin’ new album for kids

Eighteen years of rocking out plus a Grammy win thrown in for good measure, makes Ozomatli a band for the ages. Yet as big as they’ve become, the band still rocks a happy home-grown vibe. And their latest venture is a kids’ album every bit as awesome as fans like me might expect. The sound of Ozomatli is infectiously fun, especially in the new album, OzoKidz. It’s a great way to introduce kids to songs that don’t fit into a conventional genre. The Skateboard song, one of my favorite tracks, feels like a punk rock anthem in the style of...

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Hotel Transylvania Review: Velcome to Fun

The second my girls saw the very first ad for Hotel Transylvania, they were begging to see it. At 5 and 7, I wasn’t quite sure if I should get their hopes up or not–after all, stories about monsters not of the Sesame Street variety generally don’t suit their age group. Remarkably, even my 5-year-old wasn’t scared a bit. Okay, so there were a couple of tense moments in which she gripped my hand a little tighter, and it’s possible that she’s a tougher little girl than most. But when I asked them at the end if it was...

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Rabbit Days and Dumplings serves up deliciously different family music

Thanks to an Austrian grandmother and a healthy selection of Putumayo Kids music, my kids have been exposed to a fairly diverse tapestry of children’s music…although I will admit that our knowledge of any music from East Asia is almost nonexistent. But now that versatile musician Elena Moon Park from Dan Zanes and Friends has released a collection of songs from her homeland, that’s all about to change. {Keep reading for a chance to win a copy of this CD!} Rabbit Days and Dumplings is especially exciting if you’re like me and have a preconceived notion in your head of what an...

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Volcom, Yo Gabba Gabba and Jack Black = skate culture awesomesauce

Volcom is my kids’ absolute obsession around these parts. They’re hardcore skateboarders, and Volcom represents everything that is awesome about skater culture. One of my sons insists on only wearing shirts emblazoned with their logo. He has two, and if they’re dirty? No worries. He will gladly dig them out of the laundry basket. Talk about brand loyalty at six years old!  And now Volcom’s newest collaboration is the raddest thing since sliced bread, because they have figured out a way to raise the roof on cool. Intrigued? Oh, you should be. Volcom and Yo Gabba Gabba have joined...

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Raise a Ruckus with Hullabaloo’s latest CD for kids

Steve Denyes of Hullabaloo has the kind of cool Johnny Cash-esque voice that would be right at home in a honky-tonk country bar. Fortunately for our kids, he and his childhood friend Brendan Kremer have decided to make great kids’ music instead of crooning to boring old grownups. And their latest release is a real barn-burner. The dozen songs on Raise a Ruckus mix swing-your-partner country with story-telling folk and good ol’ rock-and-roll for a toe-tapping, upbeat sound. The fiddle-and-banjo-filled title song alone begs for dancing (and could exhaust even the most energetic five-year-old).  I love that Hullabaloo has such a...

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Before Rowling there was Tolkien

This week, at their father’s insistence, we introduced the kids to Lord of the Rings–he wanted to get a head start before The Hobbit finally comes out. Well, my older daughter is now officially obsessed, roleplaying Frodo at every turn. (She didn’t want to be Arwyn, surprisingly. Kind of cool.) If you’ve got a kid who’s smitten with Tolkien, but you’re not ready to fill their room with giant full-color posters of Orcs, this minimalist design option is awesome. Designer Jamesy has created this lovely Minimalist Lord of the Rings series of posters. I think the Fellowship of the...

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One apple worth picking this fall

When I was pregnant with my first child, my neighbor gave me a cassette tape full of traditional kids’ songs, and I thought, This is what I’ll have to listen to when I have a baby? Interesting. And then I sobbed. Maybe a little. This could be one reason why I get so excited when I hear bands like The Harmonica Pocket, who create the kind of unique music I want my children to surround themselves with as they get started in this world. And their new CD is one you’ll want to pick. {keep reading for your chance to win a copy!}...

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Gustafer Yellowgold’s musical tour through the holidays is a trip worth taking

Yes, the years are going by so fast, though I’ve never had one whiz by in 28.4 minutes, thank goodness. But if anyone can make that happen in a way that will put a smile on your face, it’s the musical, yellow-hued cartoon Gustafer Yellowgold, whose latest release takes us through a year of holidays, seen from the point of view of an outer-space creature who came here from the sun in 2005. Yeah, it’s a bit weird, but a whole lot of awesome. As with Gustafer Yellowgold’s previous releases, Year in the Day is a combo DVD/CD. I love the combo concept...

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Celebrating Woody Guthrie with 2 perfect CDs

This would have been folk-music legend Woody Guthrie’s centennial year. And so we celebrate the truly amazing legacy he left behind. Within the 3,000 song lyrics (wow!) that he wrote, there lies a powerful children’s music catalog that speaks directly to the energy and creativity of those ever-expanding minds. There’s a whole lot more to Woody Guthrie than This Land Is Your Land, is what we’re saying. Here, two important new albums that offer families a new twist on some familiar tunes. We know that you will dig these CDs as much as we do. First up is the...

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Recess Monkey’s eighth CD is as fun as a barrel full of you-know-whats

With seven solid releases to their credit (you can read about their last one here), I was pretty certain that we’d love Recess Monkey’s eighth offering to the world of kindie music. But what I enjoy most about this trio of enthusiastic educators from Seattle is that they don’t just churn out the same music time after time. Instead, they find just the perfect way to capture those moments of childhood musically in new and unique ways.  {Keep reading for a chance to win a copy!} And their latest, In Tents, carries on their upbeat sound with sixteen sweet...

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Ragtime for Rugrats

Randy Kaplan is such a talented kids’ rocker; the kind of performer who really engages his audience. He doesn’t just sing, he tells stories. And we listen. We are all huge fans of Kaplan’s incredibly cool, listenable (even for adults) CDs, but this newest, which makes some of the greatest Country, Blues and Ragtime numbers family-friendly, is his most ambitious yet. Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll isn’t exactly as innocent as an American Girl, yet, Kaplan does a great job bringing this and more to life for kids in Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie. You’ll also find that he adds his...

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Every family has a spicy kid…or two.

Molly Ledford and her band of merry Lunch Money mates are just such supreme goodness. We are big fans of theirs here at Cool Mom Picks, but this new CD, Spicy Kid, just might take the cake. Er, peanut butter sandwich.  This CD is a combination of sweet fun and silliness for the kid folk, but Molly sneaks in a most unbelievable tribute to parenting with “Basket of Flowers.“ I listened to that song on repeat and saw my children as little babies flash before me in a sort of slideshow of the mind. Yes, it was that deep....

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Can I get a witness? Sugar Free Allstars latest CD will make you a believer in their funky sound

If I had to pick a CD to take with my family onto a desert island this summer, it’d be the Sugar Free Allstars’ latest release. The ten tracks pack a whole lot of funky deliciousness into 36 minutes, with lyrics that always perk us up and make us smile—which would come in handy as we look for coconuts and leave messages in bottles. {keep reading for a chance to win a copy!} All on a Sunday Afternoon’s title may sound like music created for hammock swinging, but it’s better suited for a playful backyard cookout or post-bath dance party. And...

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How do you get girls excited about science? Try music.

My oldest daughter is about to enter sixth grade and if statistics are correct, her current love of science will likely wane as society subtly spreads the message that science and engineering studies are “not for girls.” But, I’m going to do everything I can to help change that perception with loads of science kits and talk about everyone from Marie Curie to Sally Ride.  And we’ll be playing a lot of a new CD whose mission is to empower girls to explore science and engineering fields their entire lives.  Bill Childs of Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child and...

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Circus Smirkus – the must see kids tour of the summer

Last year for the first time, I discovered the genius that is Circus Smirkus, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that my kids have been counting the days for an entire year until we could return. Well, we did. And you can too, now that they’re on tour again for their 25th annual summer (wow). There’s a whole lot of great reasons to nab your family some tickets for this special show this year. The non-profit Circus Smirkus is everything kids inherently love about the circus–acrobatics, humor, clowning, aerial stunts, hula hoops–only all performed by a cast of...

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