Friday, January 28, 2005

Oops! - Lost Email!!!

I am in the process of changing Internet services and yesterday I inadvertantly deleted all the messages in my "in" box and my "sent" box.

This means that if I had a recent email conversation with you I have lost it. If you were waiting for a response it will not come.


If you happen to see this and you were waiting to hear from me please let me know!

Country Lane Elementary in Broken Arrow

I just got home from Country Lane Elementary in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. (Driving very slowly through snow! The highway was pretty clear, though - no great danger.)

I was there this morning to help kick off their reading challenge. If the students read enough books, the principal has agreed to dress like a chicken and roller skate through the halls doing the chicken dance! How fun is that?

I had two groups this morning, K-2nd first, then 3rd-5th. Both were exemplary groups. They came into the room and waited quietly for the program to start. They participated with enthusiasm but I never had to ask either group to settle down. I was very impressed.

It's been a while since I've had a chance to use my concertina. What's a concertina you ask? It's like a miniature accordion, with no keyboard - just buttons for the notes. Otherwise known as a "squeeze box." I do one song with it - "Library Bookaneers" and since this was a reading challenge kickoff, I brought it along to do the song. It seemed to work well for both groups. The kids seem to be fascinated by an instrument they don't see too often.

Other songs I did include "Diving in the Deep Blue Sea," "Take Me to Your Library," "The Great Green Squishy Mean Bibliovore," "Hanging Out With Heroes at the Library," "Grandma's House Tonight," "The Frog Song," and "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet." Yes, I threw that last one in just for fun.

I've been promised some digital photos that were taken, so when those arrive I will post 'em here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Me on XMKids!

Yeah, we were just having lunch with XMKids on in the background and I heard my name, which just about startled me to death. They played "Take Me to Your Library!" That's the first I've heard me on XM since we got it, so we were all very excited around here. It's humbling to hear all the great kids music out there, much of which I've never had the opportunity to hear before, and it's inspiring. I have a new goal now: to land a song on the XMKids top 13 chart.

I'd better get back to work! I'm editing and mixing the "Frog Song" today, so I'd better hop to it. :-) Sorry about that. Really, I won't do it again.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Super Saturday

Yesterday I performed for a Super Saturday event at the Oklahoma City Art Museum. This was my first appearance since before Christmas, so I was glad to be out performing again, even if my fingers did get sore! From 1:00 to 4:00 folks drifted in and out of the lobby area and I regaled them with songs from my "best of" list. There was a natural reverb to the room that sounded pretty good on my voice, so I was enjoying that. I sang for anywhere from one family to 50 people or so at a time, plus one birthday party. We did "Happy Birthday" and "Birthday Boogaloo" for Emma, who was turning five! We also got some fun participation going for the "Frog Song," "Tropeo the Pirate," and "You're a Dinosaur" at various times during the afternoon.

Lisa and Evalyn were with me, though I hardly saw them. They had a great time with the day's other attractions, including a movie and a 3-D art project. They made a mobile together with lots of colorful shapes and stickers and feathers. Evalyn calls it her dream catcher and says it keeps bad dreams away - it's hanging near her bed. As I type she's creating something new out of the leftover supplies she brought home.

If you haven't been to the art museum yet, check it out in downtown OKC. It's worth the trip just to gaze up at the gigantic colorful glass sculpture towering over the entrance!

Monday, January 17, 2005

XM Kids

We got XM radio for Christmas this year. I finally got the antenna installed in the car and turned on the service. We've been listening to XM Kids everywhere we drive for the past week or two.

If you don't know what XM radio is, it's that satalite radio thing. It's cool because unlike FM stations, there are no commercials, and you never lose the signal no matter where you are.

We're jazzed about it for many reasons, but XM Kids is definitely one of the big ones. Being here in the middle of Oklahoma, where there is no children's radio to be heard at all, and having a slow dial-up Internet connection, I have not heard very much actual radio for kids!!! Which is ironic considering that I publish the children's radio list online.

So I'm enjoying this.

There's a lot of really great stuff out there. XM Kids plays a lot of independently produced music meant for kids, with occassional kid appropriate mainstream stuff thrown in (you know, like "Yellow Submarine" or "Particle Man") and some big media stuff like the Spongebob soundtrack. There is sometimes too much talking for my taste - just give me the music!!! And like on any radio station there are some songs that get played to death and drive me nuts. But overall, I've been enjoying hearing some of the great songs other kids' artists are putting out there. I feel plugged in! It's cool!

I have long felt that kids' music ought to be made with the potential in mind that it might "cross over" into the mainstream hit parade. Why not? Kids deserve the greatest of everything. Catchy tunes, skillful lyrics, great arrangements - these things are always in style. It's only in recent times that "children's music" became a separate genre. Why shouldn't children's music compete well in the general music market?

Well, the general trend seems to be toward this level of quality. There has always been great children's music out there of course. Now there seems to be a lot of it. Can it be that it's only a matter of time before some kids' singer breaks into the top 40 pop or rock charts? Established mainstream artists seem to love to do kids songs now and then, with mixed results. I believe it takes someone who performs in front of kids regularly to consistantly make great children's music. So I'd just love to see the tables turned the other way around and have a real kids' artist break in on mainstream territory!

Or maybe with music diversifying as it is, and moving more toward niche markets and independent releases, there will be room for lots of big stars (think Wiggles) within children's music itself.

Exciting times!

But still, out of all the many many categories of music on XM Radio, guess which one has the fewest stations? You got it - kids music! There's XM Kids and Disney. The Disney station seems to be playing top 40 music aimed at "tweens." I don't consider it kids' music really.

So I guess that leaves a lot of room to grow...

If you have XM radio, I hope you're listing to XM Kids and calling in to make requests and show your support. We need more such national outlets for children's music, but they'll have to prove their popularity before the industry takes notice.

Oh, yeah, and you might be wondering if you can hear me on XM. Well, I know that two years ago my song "Roundy Round" was added to the play list. It's probably been dropped since then! They might also have my song "I Go Bananas" on file through the Children's Music Web Awards. But since I've been listening, I haven't heard me at all. You can always call in and make a request!

Has it Been Two More Weeks?

Good grief it really has. We've been sickies around here the past two weeks, passing various cold symptoms around amongst ourselves and my parents. Yesterday we took Evalyn to the doctor for the third time since Christmas, this time with a painful ear infection. Lucky for us, although her latest was the worst, it was also the shortest - today she already seems to be back to her normal self! But Lisa has now lost her voice. My turn for something next.

Anyhow, with all this going on I've been mixing when I can, and I have two songs at the "done for now" stage. I'm just burning them to a CD as I write this so that I can try them out on various players to hear how they sound and determine whether further adjustments are needed. Then they'll go into Steve's studio for some finishing touches and mastering.

Only eleven more songs to go!

Things should move along more quickly from here out, supposing we all feel healthy. Now that I know the software pretty well, having taken many wrong turns, I will get into a work groove with no wrong turns and start cranking them out.

The two songs that are finished: "Horny Toad" and "Silly Song." One reason I started with them was that each presented unique technical challenges to be worked out, i.e. they were two of the tough ones. So like I said, now I've learned a lot and it will go faster.

I'm debating whether to try and post mixes to this site as I finish them so you can hear how it's going. Or maybe I should just wait and let you hear the finished product when it's all ready. What do you think?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Back to Work! + Show This Month in OKC

Well, today it was back to work, sort of, after a two week vacation for the holidays. I say sort of cause it doesn't feel like I got much done, but oh, well. Getting back to the blog was on the to-do list, so...

This month I will be furiously editing and mixing, bringing the best of three shows together to make the new CD. Much more about that to come soon.

I will be performing January 22 from 1-4 at the Oklahoma City Art Museum. I'm part of a larger event for families and kids, including arts and crafts projects and a movie. Hope to see you there!!

My New Year's resolution... Write every day! I'm not sure if this counts, so I'm going to go work on a song or something.

Grandview Elementary in El Dorado, KS

Has it really been two weeks? Yes, it has - two weeks ago today I performed at Grandview Elementary in El Dorado, KS. I didn't write about it right when I got home, and the holidays snatched me away! (Lisa and I spent the week leading up to Christmas editing home video and burning it to DVD as a gift for Evalyn's grandparents. Then it was Christmas, and lots of friends and family to visit with, then New Years... you didn't want to read all that, did you? Back to El Dorado!)

It was a fun show as always! If you have my Take Me to Your Library CD, then you may have actually seen me performing at Grandview Elementary. It was two years (and two weeks) ago nearly to the day when I video taped a performance there of "Grandma's House Tonight," which is included in the computer extras on that CD. So it was a lot of fun to come back and perform again. The kids remembered the songs and did a great job singing along.

What made this show especially fun for me was that Evalyn (my daughter, 3 1/2), after a long hiatus, resumed her role as my opening act. She surprised us by agreeing to sing for the kids as they came into the room, each carrying their own chair. She sang her ABC's, Row Your Boat, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. These three songs are "hers" because I used to sing them to her every night at bedtime, and now they always seem to come out together when she sings for the kids. (She can belt out "Oklahoma" too, and I can't wait for the day she does that one for a crowd!) And she finished off with the ABCs again, this time asking the kids to sing along (her idea!), and of course everyone sang along - how could you refuse such a cutie-pie!

Nope, we didn't get it on video. We've really got to get better at remembering the camera!