The Hub Debuts; Fraggle Rock Toys Live On

In case you haven’t heard all the hubbub (pun intended), The Hub, a new kid’s channel debuted on 10/10/10.  If you’re a longtime NKT reader, you may remember that I posted last year about the then-yet-to-be-named Hub, which is a collaborative effort between Hasbro and The Discovery Communications.

So far, from what I’ve seen, reviews of the this new channel have been positive, especially with the emphasis on co-viewing.  Although the shows are a collection of familiar brands that our kids love, there are also a few shows that may make you nostalgic for your own childhood.  I’m talking about Fraggle Rock!  It’s so awesome to see them back on tv again, even if they are reruns.  I’m digging The Hub’s programming choices and appreciate their tactics for integrating family viewership.

If there’s a show, as you know, toys will follow.  Manhattan Toys is helping reignite the Fraggle Rock love with their line of plush toys and puppets.  While at the Time to Play Holiday Showcase, I literally stopped in my tracks when I spotted Red on the Jim Henson Company’s table.

Manhattan Toys has a line of Fraggle Rock plush and puppets, ranging from Red to Wembley to Traveling Matt.  No word yet if the Garbage Heap will make an appearance.

Like a lovesick school girl, I think I rambled on way too long to the Jim Henson Company’s publicist about my love for Fraggle Rock.  Here’s to hoping my kid loves these sing-songy creatures as much as I do.  Manhattan Toys’ Fraggle Rock plush can be found on their site, as well as at The Fraggle Rock Store.


Wake Up Clarinet! is a Fun, Fresh Family CD

I love starting my Mondays reviewing music for Music Mondays, so much so that when we fall in love with a soon-to-be released cd, it plays all day long on repeat.  And that’s exactly the case for Oran Etkin’s newest cd, “Wake Up Clarinet!”

Jazz artist and composer, Oran Etkin, who has a penchant for making jazz music accessible and engaging for families, is set to release Wake Up Clarinet tomorrow, September 14.  His first family release, spotlights his Timbalooloo Method which is described as “conveying sophisticated concepts in a fun musical language that all kids can understand.”  There’s much to be said about introducing young kids to jazz music and the soothing sounds of woodwinds and much more.

While Etkin is the lead vocalist and plays the clarinet and sax, the band adds an flavorful background.  The band features Jason Marsalis on drums, soulful vocals from Charenee Wade, Fabian Almazan on piano, Curtis Fowlkes on trombone and Garth Stevenson.

In the title track, Wake Up Clarinet, Etkin cleverly personifies the clarinet, starting with a soft, soothing intro that crescendos to “Clara’s” awakening.  As his clarinet then sings and echos the rhythmic patterns of his lyrics, it further demonstrates his Timbalooloo method.  With a musically-obsessed kid, I absolutely love the idea of his method, not to mention the super cute story behind the origin of the word.

Over the spring, our family had a chance to check out Etkin at a show at the Scholastic Soho, which promoted his inclusion as one of the featured artists on the Putumayo Kids Jazz Playground cd.  There’s nothing quite like sitting in an auditorium full of kids screaming for soulful sounds and singing along to songs such as “Eh Las Bas,” which is also track six on the Wake Up Clarinet! Many of the kids in the audience knew many of Etkin’s songs because of his popular NYC music classes which are said to be endorsed by celebs such as Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber (whom we saw at the aforementioned show.)

What’s so unique about Etkin’s new cd is that it’s a departure from the blaring sugary kiddie pop music reflected on infomercials and the like.  “Wake Up Clarinet!” has a fresh, fun vibe, complete with soulful vocals and jam worthy songs that can also tastefully reside on mom and dad’s playlist.

The nine-track cd,”Wake Up Clarinet!” from Oran Etkin, debuts on September 14 and features a bonus music video.  Want to hear the new cd? Check it out here.

Exclusive: Nickelodeon Mega Music Fest Full of Fun Energy

Nickelodeon is set to air the much-hyped Mega Music Fest tonight at 8pm—and what a mega fest it is!  Back in May, NKT was onhand at the Brooklyn Academy of music for the taping of the powerhouse kiddie music show which brought the likes of The Roots, Colbie Calliat and Wyclef Jean onstage for a variety of musical performances.


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Okee Dokee Brothers’ Take it Outside is Down-Home Fun

They’re a little bit country, a little bit bluegrass and a whole lot of funky, and together, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing are The Okee Dokee Brothers whose latest cd is set to be released tomorrow.  Take It Outside showcases the duo’s fun and quirky sound, which gives a nod to down-home goodness and smart lyrics that teach helpful lessons.

I gave a quick listen to the duo’s new cd, and it reminded me of my husband’s favorite kind of music, not to mention some of my southern childhood and watching a lot of Hee Haw!  I love the sweet harmony and catchiness of Water Balloon; and Auctioneer is an energetic tune that got the kid on his feet.  And quite honestly, I think more kid’s music should involve the awesomeness that is the banjo.

You can see Okee Dokee Brothers at any of their shows in Minnesota this summer, at Every Family Rocks in Des Moines in September and at Austin Kiddie Limits in October.

Sweet and Silly: The Best of The Laurie Berkner Band

Parents Magazine said it best when they described Laurie Berkner as “the Pied Piper of the Preschool Set.”  With her melodic tunes and unforgettable harmonies, The Laurie Berkner Band are just as much magicians as they are musicians—at least for my music-obsessed kid.

First introduced to this well-loved band’s tunes after becoming avid fans of Jack’s Big Music Show on Nick Jr., Laurie Berkner’s song lyrics are now part of our everyday vernacular.  ‘Shaky Egg’, ‘Rainboots, stomp, stomp, stomp’… you name it, Laurie’s lyrics and music have made our entire family fans for the long haul.  Like magic.

Released last month, The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band cd is a comprehensive collection of the band’s best songs.  As their sixth cd, if you’re a longtime fan, such songs on the cd are expected, but for newer fans, this cd is a staple for your budding kindie rock collection.  Unlike the songs recorded for Nickelodeon, Laurie’s Greatest Hits cd have a softer, less processed sound.  Songs like “Shady Tree” exude the sweet, while songs like, “Monster Boogie” reinforces the silly.  But overall, the 20-track cd encompasses the folk sensibility that keeps kids dancing and singing, and their parents humming and smiling.

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Make Music with Educo Early Melodies Instruments

For the littlest music lovers, age-appropriate musical instruments are few and far between, but leave it up to Hape’s Educo line to think of a few fun and eco-friendly options for instruments for toddlers.










Geared to ages one year and up, Educo offers the Early Melodies Slide Whistle and Flute.  Colorful and whimsical alternative to the plastic and sometimes questionable instruments often found on shelves, the Slide Whistle and Flute are made with maple and finished with non-toxic, child-friendly paints and finishes.

These instruments are perfect for promoting hand-eye coordination, appreciation for rhythm and music and sensory perception.  I love the transition from infant to toddlerhood, where curiosity and awareness of surroundings becomes so much more prevalent.  Musical exploration with fun and safe instruments, such as these from Educo, make for a melodic playtime.

Find the Educo Early Melodies Flute and Slide Whistle at  At just $3.99 a piece, how can you not want both?

Enter Sandbox: Because Kids Should Know Good Rock

Power chords, melodic keyboard solos and colorful lyrics, that’s what Starfish sounds like.

With influences from timeless bands, the second cd from popular kid rockers, Starfish, Enter Sandbox is a melodic juxtaposition of upbeat, fun tunes for kids.  Enter Sandbox aces the kid rock genre with songs that kids can sing along to, and with distinct nods to quintessential rock Gods like the Ramones, Rush and more, parents will willingly rock out as well.

My Name is No, the second track of the 12-song cd, made me nostalgic for my high school and college mix tapes and cd collection.  The guitar and bass, though a funk-filled style of their own, were reminiscent of some of my favorite songs from Rush and Primus, but with lyrics that two-year old can totally appreciate.

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Shake, Rattle and Roll with Hohner Kids Instruments

After a fabulous weekend, is there a better way to start a new week than with a bang?  In this case, I’m talking about the musical kind of bang.

Hohner Kids manufactures a wide range of musical instruments with the budding rockstars in mind.  The company’s range of musical products, which are specifically tailored to kids, include recorders, harmonicas and a variety of rhythm instruments, among others.  Aside from the cool looking Claves and hand Tom Toms, Hohner Kids also offers a few sets worth checking out.

The Samba Music Party Set includes a cd and traditional Latin percussion instruments, which gives kids a chance to explore musical culture and expression. The set includes a tambourine, castanet, samba whistle, maraca and guiro.  Hohner plastic instruments are all phthalate free and are safe for ages 3 years and up.



And because my kid has been singing Laurie Berkner’s “Shaky Egg” song nonstop for the past few weeks, check out one of Hohner’s newest instruments—the Wooden Animal Shakers.  The Wooden Animal Shakers, which come in cat, horse, fish and elephant designs, are a cute and colorful alternative to shaky eggs, the toddler favorites from music class.

Hohner Kids Musical Instruments can be found at select toy stores, music stores, online at their site or retailers like Amazon.

Kindie Rocker Justin Roberts: Relatable and Revered



Photo credit:

Justin Roberts had us at Zydeco.

I’m of course referring to the bayou-inspired song the indie musician did on one of our favorite kid shows of all time, Jack’s Big Music Show.

Memorable appearances on kids’ shows aside, Roberts has quite the following, and rightly so.

Roberts, a speaker and performer at Kindiefest, is described as one of the trailblazers for indie rock music geared to kids and family.  Based on his profile in the NY Times and the Time Magazine video, Roberts is the next big thing in kids music and is ready for the mainstream…but from what I’ve read on some of the most insightful kids music blogs, the rest of the world is just now catching up.

As evidenced by the recent press coverage, Roberts has a knack for writing songs with real topics that are relatable for kids and parents.  The Mama is Sad song and anecdote, as described in the NYTimes, struck a chord with me.  Life isn’t all rainbows (which I tweeted about yesterday, in fact) so why not pen a song about the reality and offset it with a little bit of shared Legos?

But its Roberts’ catchy and smart songs with memorable lyrics, complemented with a tour schedule dotted with his signature interactive performances from coast to coast that make him a relevant and well-respected musician, even for those who aren’t familiar with the kindie genre.

Want to see and hear for Justin Roberts for yourself?  Check him out on YouTube.

In addition to his Kindiefest presence around the web and aforementioned articles, Roberts is set to launch another album on June 8. According to his site,  Jungle Gym pays homage to collective memories of childhood.  Via Roberts’ Facebook page, you can download one of the songs for free.

Though I couldn’t attend Kindiefest due to scheduling conflicts, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading  the articles and blogposts following the conference.  While waiting for Roberts’ next album to drop, be sure to head to great sites such as Nugget Island, Zooglobble and OWTK to read great insight on kids music, including fantastic coverage of Kindiefest and the plethora of artists and industry influencers onhand. And don’t forget to check out these great reads and views; I highly suggest watching the Time video.

Time video

Time Magazine

NY Times

Kindiefest Set to Rock Out in Brooklyn

As Brooklyn sets the stage, get ready to rock out this weekend at the second annual Kindiefest.  The three-day kiddie music conference, described by Time Out New York Kids as “a mini South by Southwest for the preschool set,” will feature a public music festival on Sunday.

After growing out of showcases in 2007 and 2008, last year marked Kindiefest’s innaugural year for the family music conference.  The kid-centric music conference, which takes place April 30 through May 2, 2010 at Littlefield NYC in Brooklyn, includes industry-oriented events including the first-night party, keynote, two days of panels and a public festival on Sunday.

Though I try to cover music as much as I can on Monday here on NKT for “Music Monday,” admittedly, I’m such a novice, and am always trying to learn as much as possible about the family music genre.  The conference segment of Kindiefest, geared to artists, producers, labels, and publicists, includes panels such as Old School Meets New School and Gigs and Venues: From Libraries to Festivals and Everywhere in Between. I’m kind of wishing I could sit in on the conference and panels, to learn more about the behind the scenes of the family music industry, and to see what makes these kid music influencers tick.


The Recess Monkeys are among the performers at KindieFest's music festival on Sunday, May 2.


Nevertheless, I’ll be on the lookout for tweets and updates from some of my blogger friends who, I’m sure, will be reporting from the frontlines.  However, I’m most excited about Kindiefest’s festival, which is geared to anyone and everyone that loves music.  The festival will showcase the ecclectic sounds of Bill Harley, Recess Monkey, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Clementown, The Royal Order of Chords and Keys and Ralph Covert.  Tickets cost $15 for an entire family, which is quite a bargain considering that many concerts in the area cost more than that for just one ticket!

If you’re in the NYC area this weekend, be sure to help support the family music industry by checking out the Kindiefest public festival.  If you’re heading to the Kindiefest festival on Sunday, let me know!


Kindiefest– The family music festival

May 2, 2010

Littlefield NYC

622 Degraw

Brooklyn NY, 11217

Tickets are $15 (free for infants)

Doors will open at 11:30

Showtime 12-4