Monday, February 11, 2008

Goodbye friends! Seems it's been people and parties in and out around the house this past week. Fine with me! People over is always a good excuse to drink the better wine and blow off worrying about things for a time. Then they leave and we go back to work with a heavy "where was I?" Life's no good and hardly worth living if the work isn't balanced out with family and friends and all the other fine things. Then, as if we needed more partying around here (we do, of course) we spent the remainder of the weekend at a two-year-old's birthday party at a local park. Good weather for it.

The highlight was HULLABALOO, a local kids' band that has all the moms a-buzzing. It's a couple of guys on guitar and rhythm and they just show up and play music. Nothing to it! But I've been listening to their first album N O N S T O P for the past few months and the Little Ditchman just digs it. The album's called "Twenty Songs Every Kid Should Know" and it is, well, 20 songs every kid should know. Begins with Yankee Doodle and moves all the way through She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain and closes with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. When my wife first played it I shuddered, Lord, we're going to be listening to this until our taste in music turns to gruel and we can't hear ourselves think but after a few listens I realized how wrong I was. The thing is, the guys' musical ability is a folksy, humble, get-out-of-the-way-so-the-music-can-get-through style that mixes a bit of country and folk rock that really sounds good. There's a reason why all these songs have been around for a hundred and fifty years, and Hullabaloo is likely to lend Americana to another generation. These are catchy, simple melodies that tell the story of our country in a homespun, Main Street sort of way, and when they're sung properly by someone who knows how to play an instrument (as opposed to an overstuffed, felt dinosaur plunking a chordless synthesizer) they're good. I heard my daughter singing When the Saints Go Marching In and it brought a tear to my eye. (It's a classic spiritual!) So Hullabaloo knows how to do it and get this: you can understand every word they're singing.

Their website is here, if you're interested, and they're also on iTunes. They have a few of their own tunes, too. One of them is called "Blah, blah, blah" which tells the story of what it's like to be a kid, where the kids hear the parents talking and laughing in the living room and all they hear is, well, blah blah blah. In the end of the song the kid goes and tells his dog, who only hears -yes, right- blah blah blah. They nail it with that one. It's catchy. Give the guys .99 cents and get it off iTunes. Support your local artists.

Not everyone likes it. One review on iTunes reads:

"r u serious? by hoested tonight -what was this guy thinking when he made this album...or what drug was he on. i'll give it a negative 2 stars. i think babies and children would be pissed if there parents made them listen to this guy" (sic)

Now there's a guy who's never heard of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band! I was in the French Quarter years ago and stood outside the Preservation Hall one night. It was real music. Music that sung to eternity, with Heaven itself smiling and nodding, and the angels tapping their feet.
Tap along. (I suggest track 10.)

You're dumb and wrong if you don't think music is a significant part of American culture and one of our greatest contributions to the world. There's a lot of good stuff out there, but let's keep the old good stuff alive, lest we forget how to make it entirely.

Thanks Hullabaloo.