FolkWorld #51 07/2013
© Michael Moll (with specialist support from his 2 and 4 year old daughters)

German Folk for Kidz

Folk for Kidz

More songs for children from both sides of the Atlantic...

Funky Mamas, Pickin in the Garden. Own label, 2012.

Funky Mamas from Canada: The name of this Canadian band - Funky Mamas sounds already promising. The all female children's quartet presents on "Pickin in the Garden" some superb material, recorded along with a host of (male and female) friends. Some of the songs - such as "Pickin in the Garden" and "Down at the Farm" - have fantastic choruses for young and old to sing along. Others may not be quite as accessible for younger listeners, while still being well crafted.

The music of our Funky Mamas and their friends is tasty and sits stylistically somewhere between Canadian folk, bluegrass, singer songwriter (in fact a couple of songs reminded me of the Poozies with Sally Barker!), with banjo, guitar, ukulele, fiddle, percussion and musical guests on e.g. harmonica, trumpets, drums. There's plenty of great harmony singing. To round off the CD, there are also a couple of French songs and two stories mixed in.

Helen Austin, Always be a unicorn. Own label, 2012.

They say they are one of Canada's best loved children's bands, and you can easily tell why. Another real find of Canadian children's music!

...and an expat unicorn...: Formerly a stand up Comedian in England, Helen Austin emigrated to Vancouver Island and focuses now on songwriting. With "Always be a unicorn" she has created an album for children. The lyrics of her songs are upbeat and positive, with themes that will be re-affirming for children. With her gentle light voice Helen has created a pleasant enough album, which may lend itself to day dreaming (or even sending a child off to sleep!).

Generally, I did not find that the songs were particularly engaging for my 2 and 4 year old daughters - too gentle and too few good refrains for them to pick up - so they became quite swiftly disinterested. The exception to this was the very first song of the album "Let the sun shine" which made them bop along - and then again I thought this song is the highlight of this album - it's just like real sunshine, a really happy and positive song.

Steve Weeks, Dandelion. Own label, 2010.

American childrens songwriting: Staying on the same side of the Atlantic, Steve Weeks is an American children's singer/songwriter from Colorado, singing his own songs in a style ranging from bluegrass via folk to pop. On "Dandelion" He puts together some great and well crafted lyrics with a good dose of child friendly humour - be it about a dog who eats anything including his house or about all those "why" questions that children love to ask, be it a song full of lies or a song full of birds names.

There is less to sing along, more to just listen to - thus requires children to pay attention to the lyrics. That's why this CD is not as suitable for younger children who may find it somewhat boring (experienced in my family!).

Jackie Oates, Lullabies. ECC Records, 2013.

Good night - with Lullabies from the British Isles and Iceland: English folk singer and fiddler Jackie Oates,[47] from Staffordshire, has done some extensive research into lullabies, and this album is the fruit of that labour. "Lullabies" is a very warm and calm album full of lullabies, many of them traditional plus a few contemporary folk songs from the British Isles.

The album has though mixed in a number of (again gentle and calm) surprises - amongst them two enchanting Icelandic lullabies, and songs written by very well known people Paul McCartney, AA Milne and William Shakespeare! With pleasant and gentle music on guitars, cello, piano. A beautiful soothing CD - a delight for young and old!

Papa Moll at the Swiss Museum of Transport. Globi Verlag, 2011.

Papa Moll reading...: But before we go to sleep following these lullabies, there is a little bit of reading to do. This book has not a lot to do with folk music, but was sent to me for review based on the name.

The Swiss cartoon character is well known for his little mis-haps, and in the book provided "Papa Moll at the Swiss Museum of Transport" he takes his family on an outing to this exciting looking museum. The book is good fun for all the family, and it certainly makes you want to take your family to this big attraction in Lucerne. Please note - there is no resemblance between the book character and the author of this column!

That's it again from Papa Moll - until next time!

Photo Credits: (1)-(5) CD Covers (from website).

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