Musical Notes - October 2010

Good Music In Support of Haiti

By Charlotte Bohn

Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti

When an earthquake destroyed much of the capital of Haiti on Jan. 12, the rest of the world was bombarded with images, videos, and news coverage of the effects. Along with other nations, America responded in those early days with relief efforts in the form of money, food, medical supplies, and labor. Many of us did what we could, donating to charities such as the American Red Cross to help out in some way, however small.

Family musician Dean Jones, of the children’s band Dog on Fleas, found himself feeling helpless like the rest of us. Having close friends in Haiti and feeling a connection to and respect for the music of the region, Jones decided to create something that might help the ongoing relief effort. Ten months later, even though we aren’t seeing the aftermath as much in the news, if at all, there is still a massive struggle going on to rebuild in Haiti. Thousands of people are still without homes, struggling to secure food and water each day as the massive cleanup continues.

Jones' album Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti is a beautifully unique collection of songs filled with uplifting messages. It features some of today’s very best family musicians such as Dan Zanes, Recess Monkey, They Might Be Giants, Pete Seeger, Randy Kaplan, Uncle Rock, and Frances England. Almost all the tracks are previously unreleased, most of them recorded specifically for this CD on a brand-new record label called Spare the Rock Records.

Record label founder Bill Childs states in a press release, “After speaking with Dean Jones it was immediately obvious to me that this would be a great record, and, just as importantly, that it would have the potential to help keep people’s attention on the ongoing recovery of Haiti.”

All proceeds from Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti will benefit the Haitian People’s Support Project and its long-standing work to help the people of Haiti. Go online to to find out where to purchase the album.

The Kids Are All Id

I like getting press releases with the CDs I receive for review, but sometimes they'll hype the CD too much. In the case of family musician Randy Kaplan’s The Kids Are All Id
, however, the press release is right on the mark.
No, wait, I take that back. It should have gone on and on even more
about what an awesomely fun-for-all-ages CD this really is.

Awhile back, I reviewed Kaplan’s Loquat Rooftop and immediately added it to my then 2-year-old son’s CD collection. It became an instant favorite. The Kids Are All Id tops that CD and then some! Whimsical, rootsy, imaginative, and funny, Kaplan somehow crawls inside the minds of children and hones in on what they want to hear and what will make them laugh.

The opening track, “My Little Laugh,” is a bluegrassy tune with a simple message that all parents should take note of: If you laugh when your little one takes a tumble, there is a good chance he or she will laugh, too. Crisis averted!

Kaplan also does a beautiful job on the three original songs based on or inspired by the picture books of Ezra Jack Keats, author and illustrator of The Snowy Day, among other classic children's books: “Whistle for Willie” (inspired by the book of the same name), “Dream Hat” (inspired by Jennie's Hat), and “I Like Cacti” (inspired by Clementina's Cactus).

And Kaplan serenades and entertains listeners with classic songs as well, including covers of Bob Dylan's “Forever Young” and the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis number “The Money Song.”

There are no weak spots on this CD or on any of Kaplan's past CDs (Five Cent Piece was also released a year ago, at the same time as Loquat Rooftop), nor will there be, I predict, on any of his future CDs. This guy is what makes children and family music listenable and cool. BC

© Baltimore’s Child Inc. October 2010