Sound Off!

A Sweet Little Band

by Kathy O’Connell

Oklahoma’s “sweetest little band” is the Sugar Free Allstars. Their Dos Niños is a collection of original kids’ songs requiring repeated listening.

The band grabbed me with their opener, “Bathtub Boy,” a joyous account of a boy with a preference for baths over showers. A funky song about “Poppy and MeeMaw” reveals the band’s layers. With the lyrics “I used to have a Granny, but she had to go away,” the band expresses the realistic attitudes kids have toward death, including how “I kiss her in my dreams.”

They remind me of They Might Be Giants on “Petting Zoo,” a quirky rocker reflecting on long-ago trips (“thinkin’ back when I was 2”) to visit animals. This band uses language that kids understand, including “freaking out” when the lambs start to lick him at the zoo. “Banana Pudding” reveals the outstanding musical chops of Sugar Free Allstars, with percussion and keyboard work that would fit proudly in any rock song.

“Stinky” truly isn’t. Rather, it’s a terrific combination of organ and guitar that will set any feet dancing. This band understands that kids don’t need it simple. Kids just need it good. We are lucky that Sugar Free Allstars lend their talents to the world of kids’ music. You can find Dos Niños at www.sugarfreeallstars.com

New Excellence
Here Comes Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could promises “boxcars full of rock and roll” in their introductory song, and they deliver beautifully.

“Road Trip” rocks with a litany of locations, including “Loveland, Kissimee, ol’ Mississipp” as the band captures the wonder surrounding a kid’s first road trip. Brady Rymer is the John Mellancamp of kids’ music, rocking hard with messages and language any kid can understand. “Your Smile” (“sure looks good on you”) is a bouncy celebration observing that “the hyenas at the zoo, they envy you” because of your smile.

Brady Rymer’s joy in fatherhood weaves through all his albums, but on this one it’s especially contagious. “Good Night, Daisy” is sung to his daughter with simple love and sincerity as he creates “your old-fashioned tune” and looks to the time “you’ll take up your makeup.” “The Relatives Came” takes a country waltz approach to its subject, “telling old stories about our crazy old clan.”

“Well May the World Go” is a simple and lovely ending to a wonderful album, looking to the time “when I’m far away.” This album holds together brilliantly, bringing an outstanding artist to a new level of musical excellence. Brady Rymer’s music is at www.bradyrymer.com

Swing for Kids
Lewis Franco and the Missing Cats bring swing to kids’ music on Swingin’ in Daddyland, an outstanding collection of original songs. “Homegrown” scats through its message of the joys of home.

“Have You Looked?” is a father/ daughter duet that veers from “you’ve been constantly annoying me” to a sweet ending (“have you looked in the vicinity of your heart?”).

Louis Franco combines a Cab Calloway delivery with the fun of Dan Hicks. My personal favorite is “Swing 42,” where Franco brings Django Reinhardt to kids’ music! Find Swingin’ in Daddyland online at www.lewisfranco.com

Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids.

Kids Corner Turns 20!
Kids Corner, Kathy O’Connell’s 7-8pm weeknight radio show for kids ages 6-13 on WXPN 88.5 FM, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It is America’s longest-running children’s talk radio program.

The show has earned more than 20 broadcasting awards, including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, the Major Edwin Armstrong Award for Creative Use of Radio, and The Institute for the Arts in Education Award of Excellence.

The show encourages children to get involved in interactive segments and demonstrate their knowledge, talent and abilities. The program also serves as a resource for parents, educators and professionals in child-related fields. www.kidscorner.org