Friday, April 29, 2005

News: Kids' Music Moves Downtown

An interesting article reprinted in the Arizona Republic this week about playing kids' music in nightclubs. The article talks about how some nightclubs are booking shows for artists playing children's music. Seems like not every club could pull this off, depending on the operating interior decorating motif, but there's no reason why parents can't give their kids a wide range of cultural activities by taking them to a nightclub (in a safe environment) just as they might take them to the symphony or the ballet. The article namechecks other artists -- They Might Be Giants, Ralph Covert, and Laurie Berkner -- as well as mentions other, less well-known artists.

Another approach to kids' music is to have "regular" musicians come in and play shows. This is the approach that the Washington, DC cable show Pancake Mountain has taken, bringing in non-kiddie artists such as the Arcade Fire ("Wake Up" is a pretty cool song, I admit) and Vic Chesnutt. Without watching the video clips, I'm not sure how the approach actually works, but it's further proof that people are taking more seriously the idea of kids as music listeners.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Review: Ralph's World - Ralph's World

Ralph Covert is a classic example of a musician who along the way to a career as a musician making music for adults stumbled into becoming a kids' musician and found he had a gift for that type of music. These conversions are not so surprising; coming home at 3 AM after playing clubs (then sleeping 'til noon) is perhaps not the best way for an artist to be a part of their kids' lives. So now he records as Ralph's World.

On Ralph's World's first kids' CD Ralph's World, the band showcases a broad range of musical styles, though it’s considerably tamer that one might expect from a band that includes a former member of the Smashing Pumpkins. Up-tempo, down-tempo, western swing, disco, whatever. There are lots of songs about animals (“Freddy Bear the Teddy Bear”, “Animal Friends”, “Tickle a Tiger”). And Covert isn't afraid to write songs that put his heart on his sleeve ("All My Colors," "Bedtime Girl").

But there are just enough sly adult references to keep the parents happy; “Take a Little Nap (The Disco Song)” reworks a classic disco tune. Covert’s daughter and friends make appearances singing backup (don’t worry, it’s kept in check). The album is targeted at kids aged 2 to 6. Recommended.