Loud. Fast. Hard. Live Banjo.

Trying to keep it together before the show.

Trying to keep it together before the show.

You know that moment when you get all giddy with excitement waiting with the crowd for a show to start? I love that about live music. However, that was not my experience just before the start of my last concert. Just moments before the band took the stage I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I’ve been known to get claustrophobic at shows, but never like this. Looking around the room at the hundreds of children and their adults, I thought, “This was a mistake. HUGE mistake.” Sitting cross-legged on the floor, tot in lap, I couldn’t believe I’d been suckered into a kid’s concert again.  But within a few bars of the first song, that dread dissipated. This wasn’t any typical kids music performance, it was The Okee Dokee Brothers.

It was a fine day to sit on the floor.

Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander getting this party started.

This was obviously a kids show, but there was plenty for adults to enjoy. The production was really well done and the music was great. There were obviously plenty of big fans in the audience because many, kids and adults alike, were singing along to all the songs.

There was a lot of encouragement for the audience to dance (This could be considered another sign it was a kids music show, but I’ve been to hip hop concerts). Several times TotGirl stood up as if to dance, head bent toward the floor, froze and then slowly sat back down again. She can’t help it, it’s in her blood. To my shock, both children willingly joined the “train o’ kids” that snaked through the audience during Memphis Town. TotBoy’s favorite part of the event was “when we danced ALLL CRAAAAAZY at the end.”

If there has to be an educational supplement, dear Lord, let it be this one.

If there has to be an educational supplement, dear Lord, let it be this one.

You know what’s another sure sign of kids music? Educational supplements. However, as far as educational supplements go, this one is pretty stellar. A music person can appreciate the mention of Odetta, Lead Belly and Bill Monroe as innovators of folk music. If an educational supplement is what it’s gonna take for my kid’s preschool to go on an Okee Dokee Brothers field trip, I will stop my yakking.

If you read this review from the Chicago Tribune, you’ll get a strong wiff of kids music:

“Without getting preachy or heavy-handed, Mailander and Lansing come off like happy, kind and fun big brothers eager to show their younger siblings how to have an ethically sound and green-conscious good time.”

This review is better:

“Like the great Woody Guthrie, they’ve tapped into that magic quality of folk music to bridge the age gap and connect listeners young and old with their universal message.” UTNE Reader.

If you go see The Okee Dokee Brothers in concert, you won’t forget you are listening to music for kids, but you won’t hate yourself for singing along. That’s good enough for me.

Get to know The Okee Dokee Brothers.

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Bumpy roads, 3.5

The daily commute

The daily commute.

Commuting to daycare this morning, it was impossible to avoid the potholes. TotRock Boy navigates one on his scoot bike and proceeds to sing:

Do you want to ride in my bumpy car?

Do you want to ride on my bumpy bicycle?

Hey Guys, let’s sing about bumpy bikes!

I’m sure there’s a kid-specific song about bumps or potholes or driving in cars, but Bumper Car by Bob Log III does the trick for us. Does this song sound familiar? Yes, this song has already been covered. On this blog. My apologies.

What’s a scoot bike, you say? It’s this cute little contraption of a bike that has no pedals, just a spot to tuck your feet as you coast. Even our small town hardware store has them in stock, so they have to be getting pretty mainstream. Ours are Strider brand.

As Tot1 and Tot2 get older, there have been more spontaneous singing of songs, some that I know they haven’t heard for months. Share your music with your kids! And get them scoot bikes, they’re awesome.

Coming to a bumpy road near you. Get to know Bob Log III

Paul McCartney gives bad advice

The Beatles have been absent from this blog thus far because, let’s face it, most of their songs have already been appropriated for easy children’s listening. From daycare, my kids are just as likely to come home singing Rafi’s Baby Beluga as Yellow Submarine. Some kid appropriation can be appreciated, Sesame Street has been doing it well for decades. I’ve said it, well, once, but I’ll say it again: one generation’s anthem of degeneracy is their grandchildren’s circle time romp.

Tot Rocker: Why don’t we do it in the road by The Beatles

After doing it in the road, one may need to purchase this from the vending machine at the train station. -St. Moritz, Switzerland

I had given up featuring The Beatles on this blog until recently when I was pleasantly reminded of Why Don’t we do it in the Road. And that song is all swamp and swagger, amiright? I love thinking about it as a cautionary tale for children. In their brief few years, my kids have heard, “Get out of the road!” nothing short of 4,000 times. Why don’t we do it in the road? Well kids, there are cars that will come flying down the street and splat you like a bug. That’s why, my dearies. 

Kind: Awake Baby

Reasons it’s a Tot Rocker: this little piece of heaven is a Tot Rocker because it’s lyrics are as simple as they get, it’s easy to sing along, the subject matter is near and dear to their hearts because kids love the idea of doing anything in the road, and it’s simple and rough, in the best way possible.

Sesame Street and The Beetles:

Other Tot Rockers by The Beatles: Get Back (awake baby), Drive my Car (awake baby)

Similar Tot Rockers: All night Long by Junior Kimbrough, Do the Romp by The Black Keys

So go ahead, freak out your mother and do it in the road.

Motorcycles and Mamas

Some quality time last summer around a bike.

Some quality time last summer around a bike.

“Mama,” TotRock Girl said, “tomollow [sic] can we wash your motorcycle?” Spring might be coming along slowly, but motorcycling season is just around the corner. And a girl that wants to get her hands dirty and spend some quality time with her Mama by washing a motorcycle? It’s most assuredly the most beautiful thing I’ve heard all day. To commemorate the sacred occasion, let’s have a motorcycle themed Tot Rocker.

 Mr. Young’s more popular song about ladies riding motorcycles, Unknown Legend, came 14 years after Motorcycle Mama on the album Comes a Time (1978). I can’t think of another musician that has two songs about lady riders, so way to go, Neil. I particularly appreciate that both of these songs depict women driving motorcycles. I could go on and on about the importance of women with their own hands on the throttle, but let’s just listen to the song, shall we?

Tot Rocker: Motorcycle Mama by Neil Young:

Kind: Awake Baby

Reasons it’s a Tot Rocker: Motorcycle Mama is about subject matter kids know: mamas and motorcycles. It has a few  “ooo’s”, “oh yeah’s” sprinkled about for fun, it’s a great song, and even reinforces Mama as the preferred title for this mother (remember Don’t call me Mommy?)

A thing a beauty.

A thing of beauty.

Other Tot Rockers by Neil Young: Helpless (sleepy baby), Teach your Children (sleepy baby), Hey hey (sleepy baby)

Other Tot Rockers about motorcycles: Motobike by The Olympic Hopefuls (awake baby), Leader of the Pack by The Shangri-Las (awake baby)

If you still have a toothache from the my girl’s sweet evocation, don’t worry. Less than 5 minutes later she was crying because I hurt her feelings. By her report, I hurt them by singing along with the radio. Aaaand we’re back.

Get to know Neil Young.

Vroom. Vroom.

I went on down to New Orleans, and they all ask’d for you.

To celebrate my recent trip to New Orleans and getting to see George Porter Jr (bassist of The Meters) play live, I figure it’s high time to chronicle this great Tot Rocker. They all ask’d for you by The Meters: They all ask’d for you is light-hearted while still bringing the funk. A punster might say it’s putting the Fun in FUNK, but I’m not a punster.

It's not the Audubon Zoo, but it's the best we got.

It’s not the Audubon Zoo, but it’s the best we got.

Other Tot Rockers by The Meters: Just kissed my baby (awake baby), Hand clapping song (awake baby)