Reviewed by Gregory Keer
The month of Valentines would not be the same without sharing a few more albums I adore.
My first pick is from Katherine Dines, one of the very first family artists I had the chance to introduce to my children. WIth her gentle voice and developmentally focused songs, Dines is a perfect choice for babies and preschoolers, though a number of her tunes suit grade-schoolers as well. On her collection of best-loved songs, Hunk-ta-Bunk-ta…Music for Growing Families, some standouts include “All the Way Around the World,” “Dad on Diaper Duty,” and “Sweet Shakin’ Bed Quakin’ Belly Achin’ Wide Awake Blues.”
Farmer Jason, whose real name is Jason Ringenberg, has won a host of honors, including an Emmy award for the children’s program he did in Tennessee. It’s easy to see why this fella is so praised since his storytelling and bluegrass-based music is full of so much life. On Nature Jams, his ode to having a good ol’ time in the great outdoors, Farmer Jason is joined by special guests (including musicians from R.EM., The Black Crowes, and Cheap Trick) as he rollicks through “Can You Canoe,” “Dison the Bison,” and “Have You Ever” (with Brandi Carlile). A DVD accompanies the CD, making it twice the natural fun.
Stephen Simon has been making marvelous albums that blend stories with classicial music for the Maestro Classics series. Two recently released examples are The Soldiers Tale (featuring the music of Igor Stravinsky) and My Name is Handel (spotlighting the composer’s “Water Music”). Both of these productions will hold children (ages 5-12) spellbound as they listen, learn, and are moved by the music.