Stuff We Like: Summer Playlist for Kids
Summer is the perfect season for throwing open the windows, cranking up the tunes, and dancing around with your little ones. Need to freshen up that playlist? Here are a few of the kindie rockers we love (many from the NYC area) and their great (read: smart, catchy, danceable) new music you can groove to this summer:
We nominate NYC-based Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights’ “Are We There Yet” as your summer road trip anthem. “I Love New York,” also on the group’s new Bandwagon album, is playlist-worthy, too. The album, geared toward kids ages 2-9, is set for release on June 25, just about the time the kids will be released from school for the summer (buy at joanieleeds.com and other major music sellers). This is the fifth album of original music for kids from the Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, and it was funded in part through a Kickstarter campaign that began earlier this year. For past albums, Leeds has won an Independent Music Award, a Gold Parents’ Choice Award, and a NAPPA Gold Award.
To celebrate the release of Bandwagon, Leeds and her band will present a Rockin’ Rooftop family show on June 19 at the JCC Manhattan, where the best dancers will receive special prizes.
Brooklyn musician Nina Stone, a.k.a. Miss Nina, makes music emphatically for “kids first,” but we swear you’ll happily bop along to “My Hula Hoop” and “Ridin’ in My Car,” two truly summery songs on her new album, Sha Doo Be Doop. Also worth a listen: “Wild Things,” an interactive ode to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, in which kids can gnash their terrible teeth, roll their terrible eyes, show their terrible claws, and get up and jump when the “wild rumpus” starts. As with most of Nina’s music, the album is mostly inspired by children’s books, and it’s recommended audience is kids ages 1-6. (MiniMonster, $12.98; available at mymissnina.com and other major music sellers)
Meet Miss Nina during a special Sunday Story Time at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn on June 23, when she’ll host an hour of stories, songs, and interactive play for tots ages 6 weeks to 3 years.
This is the first new album in four years from the Baltimore-based, Grammy-nominated kids’ band. Got a Minute? is the fifth CD from Milkshake, and it features 33 tracks, most of which clock in at 2 minutes or less and all of which are recommended for ages 4-9. The uplifting, Irish-folk sounding single “We Just Wanna Have Fun” will get everyone stomping and clapping to the beat, while the group’s mellow, instrumental “Seabreeze” is the perfect way to wind down after a day at the beach. Band founders Lisa Mathews and Mikel Gehl (once bandmates in the indie rock group Love Riot) are the parents of tweens, and their kids make guest appearances on the album: Mathews daughter, Jesse, plays and sings her original song “One Day,” while Gehl’s son, Eric, plays drums on “One of a Kind,” and they both sing in the kid choruses of “Workin’ Kid Blues” and “Hiccup.” (Milkshake Music, $12.98; available at milkshakemusic.com and other major music sellers)
The talented trio of teachers from Seattle that make up the much-awarded band Recess Monkey will release its ninth studio CD, Deep Sea Diver, next month. The album is a perfect summer treat featuring a boatload of aquatic-themed tracks like the bouncy “Beach Ball” and the upbeat “Tattoo Me,” which deliver the band’s classic mix of clever yet zany lyrics and high-energy, danceable beats for kids ages 2-8. Set in a submarine, the collection “plumbs the musical depths of the sea” before the bandmates become shipwrecked on the beach of a lost island and end with a track titled “Stranded…” (Monkey Mama, $14.99; available starting June 18 at recessmonkeytown.com and via major music sellers)
Mark your calendars! Catch Recess Monkey in concert at Madison Square Park on July 15, part of the park’s free summer concert series.
5. Meredith LeVande: Monkey Monkey Music: Let’s All Make a Circle
Award-winning children’s musician Meredith LeVande is the creator of Monkey Monkey Music and a music video star seen regularly on PBS and other TV stations. With her second children’s music DVD, Monkey Monkey Music: Let’s All Make a Circle, LeVande brings to life songs from her acclaimed CD collections through a creative set of dynamic and imaginative music videos. These 15 colorful, high-energy videos construct a series of playful worlds full of children and animated characters, popping bubbles, telling silly knock-knock jokes, springing up in gardens, spinning circles, and much more. It’s all made to get kids moving and learning as they dance, shake, and sing along. (Monkey Monkey Music, $19.99; available starting July 1 at monkeymonkeymusic.com and other major music sellers)