Sunday, October 30, 2005

More Awards!

The Great Green Squishy Mean Concert CD is an "Instant Classic"!

The Children's Music Web Awards for 2005 have been announced. Congratulations to all the winners! You can view them yourself at

The Great Green Squishy Mean Concert CD racked up three awards...

The song "You're a Dinosaur" won a Best Song for Preschoolers and the song "Loose Tooth" won a Best Song for Younger Children.

And the CD itself won in the Classic Recordings for Younger Children category! (Due to some weird timing, the classic category was the only place I could enter it if I wanted it in this year's awards program.)

I guess that makes it an instant classic!

Peters Elementary

I had a fun visit to Peters Elementary in Broken Arrow on Friday, where I ran my new songwriting critique program with the fifth grade language arts classes.

I was there for Red Ribbon Week, and I performed "Fifty Ways to Say No to Drugs" as well as "This Red Ribbon" as part of my morning assembly. I gave mini-programs for the special needs class and the afternoon Pre-K and Kindergarten classes.

And I did four half hour critique sessions with the fifth graders. Although I've taken my songs to classrooms for critique many times, this was the first time I did it as a formal program. Each session began with a conversation about the writing process, in particular why we write and how and why to solicit and use good feedback. Then I performed one of the songs I'm currently working on and we did a four step critique process on the song.

I really enjoyed these sessions. We ended up talking about all sorts of songwriting issues. I got some great feedback on my songs and I felt like there were plenty of teaching moments where I was able to get a new idea across. Hopefully the kids will be inspired to apply some of these concepts to their own writing.

Watch for a new podcast soon, featuring one of the songs I recorded in Chicago last week!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

New CD Underway: First Two Songs

Howdy, Dear Readers,

I've been promising information about the new CD I'm working on, and I'm finally ready to kick it off with a bang.

I'm writing tonight from Chicago, after the first recording session. I was in Steve Rashid's studio all day with Fred Koch co-producing and two fantastically talented players, Jim Cox on upright bass, and Don Stiernberg on guitar and mandolin. Steve also added blues harp, vibes, and percussion, and we tracked vocals for two songs.

First up was "The Cat Came Back." This is an old folk song in the public domain, and there are dozens of versions of it out there. I basically wrote my own version from scratch with a surprise ending. The recording features a spectacular performance by Don, who is world renowned for his talent on the mandolin.

Next we tackled "I Took My Dragon For a Walk." A few of you may have heard this one last summer in early June. I performed it at a couple of library programs, but I dropped it from the show, feeling it wasn't quite ready for prime time. It took me a couple of re-writes to get it right (not unusual) - I was still making revisions last night!

Anyhow, the two recordings sound amazing! They still need to be mixed, and there may be a bit of editing to do. I also may add some parts to the dragon song. But all that will be done at home. I plan to share rough mixes with you soon in my next podcast, so please stay tuned!

The plan is to have the CD ready for this summer, with ten to twelve songs revolving around a "reading and pets" theme. This will make it ideal for librarians all over the country who are planning a summer program based on pets: "Paws, Claws, Scales and Tales." In fact this is also the working title of the new CD.

These first two tracks have set a challenging standard for the rest of the CD! I'll be doing most of the work at home, and I have several more songs ready or nearly ready for recording, so hopefully I'll have lots more to tell you about soon.

Lisa and Evalyn are with me. They spent the day at the big aquarium here in Chicago. Fred and I met them for dinner and Evalyn took to Fred right away. She told us about giant crabs and dolphins and sharks, and her new buddy Lucy, the baby harp seal. No they didn't have baby harp seals at the aquarium but Lucy was Evalyn's choice of souvenir.

Tomorrow we're heading on up to Delavan, WI for the Children's Music Network national conference, and looking forward to meeting and mingling with old and new friends who also do this crazy children's music thing for a living.

I'll keep you posted with progress on the new CD, at least once a week. Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Podcast #3, "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet"

Howdy folks,

Here is my October podcast, with two fun songs for Halloween. Both of these originated on my Halloween Madness cassette, which is no longer available (although some of the songs are now bonus songs on the Take Me to Your Library CD.)

First is the instrumental "Skeleton Dance." You'll hear a cleaned-up version (with sound effects added back in) which I recorded last year for "Nina in No Limits," an animated film by Ken Streeter and Skye Sweeney, which they made for a 2004 Lego robot competition. You can see the film here:

Then we track the development of one of my most popular songs, "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet." You'll hear a couple of work tapes from 1991 and 1992, when I wrote the song, then you'll hear the entire song, edited together from five different recordings, including the original cassette, two rehearsals, a live show, and the final version from my new CD, The Great Green Squishy Mean Concert CD.


And please, post a comment to let me know what you think about the podcast. Thanks!

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