School's been out for days, and I'm already exhausted. But after a whirlwind tour of relatives and sled runs, Sturbridge Village sleigh rides and Santa stocking mornings, the kids are sugared up, full of pep and peppermint. What to do with a case of the sillies? What better time for another round of Covered in Kidfolk?
Last time on Covered in Kidfolk we brought you a sweet set of lullabies and softsongs; songs in that post are still live, just in case today's songs tire you out. If you joined Cover Lay Down in the past two months, or if you're just in the mood for something a bit quieter, head over there for a mellow dozen-or-so from the likes of Alison Krauss, Jack Johnson, The Be Good Tanyas, and Shawn Colvin, and a good overview of our Covered in Kidfolk series, and why it's meant to serve your ears, too.
But the point here is to jangle out some energy. So today, we bring you a broad set of genre-pushing folk and folk-related artists hanging out on the fast, upbeat end of the musical kidfolk spectrum. Some are traditional kids songs, sped up as far and stretched out as hard as acoustic instruments can go. Some have their origins in our own childhood favorites, from Sesame Street to Raffi. Some, like Prince's Starfish and Coffee, will be familiar as songs from your own collections, only repackaged for a kid-friendly audience. All give your kids a chance to rock out without you or they resorting to violence.
Whether you've got kids visiting for the holidays, or are just a kid at heart, I think you'll enjoy these raucous folkcovers of familiar and traditional songs for kids. Take a few minutes with your legs up on the couch and watch the kids burn off the sugar -- or, if you've got it in you, use this opportunity to dance around a bit. Just be careful running around the coffee table. Remember, it's all fun and games until someone barks a shin.
- Billy Bragg and Wilco, My Flying Saucer (orig. Woody Guthrie)
- Rhonda Vincent, Bananaphone (orig. Raffi)
- Matt Nathanson, Starfish and Coffee (orig. Prince)
- Maria Muldaur, Heck, I'd Go (orig. Dan Hicks)
- Taj Mahal, Don't You Push Me Down (orig. Woody Guthrie)
- Victor Johnson, This Old Man (trad.)
- Asylum Street Spankers, I'm My Own Grandpa (orig. Lonzo and Oscar)
- Trout Fishing in America, Simon Says (trad. children's game)
- Dan Zanes w/ Loudon Wainwright III, All Around the Kitchen (trad.)
- Dan Zanes w/ Rankin' Don, Skip to my Lou (trad.)
- Barenaked Ladies, The Other Day I Met a Bear (trad.)
From the first of three amazing For The Kids benefit CD compilations, the modern indiefolk masters of Guthrie Billy Bragg and Wilco team up for one more short, wild ride.
Turns out I like this song. All it needed was a little country, some bluegrass harmonies, and a swinging fiddle. Thanks to all-american bluegrass girl Rhonda Vincent for redeeming it, and to Putumayo Kids for asking us to Sing Along.
For The Kids, Too, is as good as the original. Matt Nathanson's acoustic folkrock makes me wish it was summer. And Prince makes surprisingly appropriate kids music.
A great accordian-heavy ditty about alien visitors no less weird than the Dan Hicks original. From Swingin' in the Rain, the second of three kids albums from prolific old folkie and 1960s Greenwich Village-era Dylan contemporary Maria Muldaur.
A funkier, butt-shimmying jam -- complete with reggae beat and a verse of rap -- from Taj Mahal, the king of funky, bluesy kidfolk. Another one from Sing Along with Putumayo. (Also available on Daddy-O, Daddy! Rare Family Songs of Woody Guthrie, which looks like a great set of folk covers. Thanks, Sailormom!)
Victor Johnson makes "certified organic acoustic music played by real live musicians." This oldschool solo acoustic fingerpickin' folk blues comes from yet another Putumayo collection worth having.
Twangy jugband music from the retro roots strummers and theater troupe Asylum Street Spankers. The new take on an old, oft-covered novelty song is from alt-country label Bloodshot Records compilation The Bottle Let Me Down.
Though like every game of Simon Says, this song is a variation on a theme, not a cover, I couldn't resist including bluegrass kids duo Trout Fishing in America's great playalong version, off Infinity.
What set of upbeat not-just-for-kids songs would be complete without Dan Zanes, once of the Del Fuegos, now the coolest musical Dad around? Get Family Dance for the guest musicians, stay for the folkrockin'.
Barenaked Ladies aren't folk, it's true. And there's an electrosynth and rockdrum undercurrent in this tune. But the acoustic instrumentation is there, prominent in the mandolin top-end. And I needed a song from For The Kids III for the trifecta.
Remember, kids: whether you prefer popfolk or sleepsongs, buying local and direct from artists is the best way to ensure that the musical ecosystem remains diverse, rich, and authentic for generations to come. As always here at Cover Lay Down, artist and album links herein go directly to artists' and labels' preferred source for purchase wherever possible. Buy if you can, for the sake of your kids and theirs.