Monday, December 22, 2008

Cantopop Legend Too Loud for DJ B


Once again DJ B selected some Asian pop music from the public library, but this time around she showed little interest in the CD once we got it home. The first time I tried to play Leslie Cheung's Printemps album from 1998, Miss B said, "I don't want this one. I want something else." It wasn't that she necessarily singled out the Cantopop superstar for her critique, as she pretty much only wants to listen to the Nutcracker these days.

After giving Miss B her Nutcracker fix, I snuck this CD on. Focused on playing dress up, she didn't pay much attention to the music. She left the room and returned wearing a fairy skirt paired with a T-shirt adorned with a cat picture, gardening shoes with lady bugs on them, and pink polka dot sunglasses. While in this get-up, she pushed a few stuffed animals in her toy doll stroller. When I asked her what she thought of the music, she said, "too loud" and turned it down. The next day I tried to play the music again and Miss B yelled, "I don't want Chinese!" and removed the CD from the player. Oh well. This Mandarin-language release didn't do much for me either.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cat Power Slinks in the Background


Around the same time that DJ B selected my husband's beloved Bob Dylan from the public library, she also picked out one of my cherished favorites: Cat Power. I've been a long-time fan, even selecting a Cat Power cover of Velvet Underground's "I Found a Reason" (from the Covers Record) to be the first dance at my wedding six years ago. Despite all of that, the one album I don't have is the one that Miss B chose at the library. I was a bit skeptical of Jukebox, Cat Power's latest release (also full of covers), because the bits I'd heard and the reviews I'd read made it sound like a departure from the spare, moody Cat Power that I know and love.

When we first listened to the CD, Miss B said, "What's this one?" and "I wanna hold your hand." Yet, she stopped the CD after less than one song. The next time we played it, she ignored the music completely, instead focusing on our newly acquired Christmas tree. On another listen, she again went about her business, which included a major tantrum over clothing choices. As track 6 began ("Lost Someone"), she calmed down slightly. Later in the day she even swayed a tiny bit to the music while we were making Christmas ornaments. Although she seemed disinterested in the music, she got extremely upset when I tried to take the CD out of the player. There must have been something about Cat Power that was acceptable to her, at least as background music.

For me, I was a bit disappointed in Jukebox overall, but still found a few gems that took me back to the Cat Power of old. And, perhaps the same could be said for Miss B. She must have sensed the power of Chan Marshall's beautiful voice and creative take on covers, even if she wasn't outwardly enthusiastic.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Miss B Dances the Nutcracker


For the past few months Miss B has been taking dance classes, and as you can probably tell from her music reviews, she's in love with ballet. Recently her class has been listening to music from the Nutcracker, and dancing to pieces of the story. Since she was enjoying it so much, I decided to check out a Nutcracker CD from the public library. Admittedly, this review is a little biased since I chose the CD for her. But, her enthusiastic reaction to the album just begged for a post.

Ever since we brought the Leonard Bernstein era New York Philharmonic Nutcracker recording (circa 1960) home from the library, Miss B has had it on constantly. She immediately starts to dance when the music starts, pauses between songs, and has different styles of ballet for various tracks. However, she also realizes that the CD has a particular purpose, and will not listen to it for bedtime. She told it that it might scare her or wake her up. Some of the pieces are very loud and energetic, so she's certainly right about that.

Miss B's grown so familiar with the music, that if we hear it in different venues (over the speakers in Trader Joe's, from a string quartet playing outside for shoppers, during TV commercials, in various holiday animated specials), she'll stop and comment...and perhaps dance for whoever is assembled.


I was feeling a little disappointed that the CD we checked out was not the entire Nutcracker (in fact it has pieces from other ballets), so I picked up the complete Nutcracker CD on another library trip. I thought Miss B would be thrilled, but instead she'd grown so accustomed to the original CD that she flat out rejected the new one, saying, "No! I don't like the white one!" Or maybe she just prefers the New York Philharmonic to the London Symphony Orchestra.

Cantopop Rules for Headbanging and Air Guitar

It's quite often that Miss B is drawn to Chinese CDs at the public library. I'm not sure if it's because there's a big selection, or if there's something in the aesthetics of the packaging that's appealing to her. Either way, Miss B is usually riveted by the majority of Chinese pop music that she hears. The hugely popular Hong Kong singer Kelly Chen's CD was no exception.

When we first put Kelly Chen's Grace into the CD player, Miss B was eager to listen to it. She quietly played during the first song, but then got a very serious look on her face when track 2 began. She rocked her feet, put her fingers in her mouth, and then began dancing wildly with a big smile. She asked, "Is this my music?" Suddenly her dance moves changed into a style new to her, but familiar to me in that junior high school dance sort of way. Miss B started to shake her hips and her arms with a scowl on her face. At this point I couldn't hold back my laughter, and she laughed back at me, realizing that I was amused by her.

By track 3 I heard hints of metal and Miss B kept up the energetic moves, kicking her feet and stopping to point at pictures in my CMJ magazine. She then started to talk nonsensically to a picture before she began singing into an imaginary microphone.

When her father got home, DJ B wanted to put the CD on again. As the music began, she ran around the room like she was in flight, with her arms in the air. She swooped, and ended a dance with a grand, dramatic pose. As the more rock-oriented track 2 began, she again sang into her imaginary microphone with a strange, serious expression on her face. She transitioned into a fast dance, shaking her shoulders before putting on a rock-star face. She held both hands in front of her like she was motioning for us to "Stop!" and asked us to dance with her. By the third track (kind of a disco/metal tune), she was waving her fingers over her chest as if playing an air guitar. She rocked out in true head-banger fashion, stood in place scowling, then screamed, "Go away everybody!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bob Dylan's Rocking, Throwing, and Holding Music


I couldn't believe it when DJ B pulled a Bob Dylan CD from the shelf at the public library. As far as Bob Dylan goes, I live in a divided household. I still haven't found a connection to his music and am particularly turned off by his nasally vocal style. My husband, however, is a huge fan and for years has been trying to convert me to the pro-Dylan camp. The moment I realized that Miss B had chosen Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume 3 on our library jaunt, I knew that my husband would be elated. In the intervening hours before listening to the CD the tension was mounting, as I wondered how Miss B would feel about her dad's beloved artist.

We decided to listen to the CD when the whole family was home. My husband put it in the player and Miss B said, "I wanna hold your hand." Muddying the process, Miss B's dad started singing along to the music and directed his performance at our resident toddler music critic. She shook her head, danced, then jumped on a chair. She asked her dad to hold her and dance, saying, "Rock me in the living room." After some slow dancing, Miss B then said, "Throw me dada. Put me in the basketball. Throw me in the basketball." He ignored her request and instead began to sing to her. During "Tangled Up in Blue," DJ B said, "This is a holding song." Her dad continued to dance with her in his arms for the entire song, even though she said, "Sorry dada. I'm going to have to get something else. I need something else" while shaking her fist. At the end of the song she got down and did some more energetic dancing.

A few days later Miss B grabbed the CD again, saying, "I wanna sing to this one." Yet after we put it on she didn't pay too much attention to the music. Instead she focused on her snack and her pink laptop computer, telling me, "I'm doing work....do my email." When I asked what she thought of the music, she got up and turned it off.

It's clear to me that DJ B's enjoyment of Bob Dylan was highly dependent on the presence of her father. Music, like so many things, is so much more fun when sharing it with other fans.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mobb Deep Gets Dismissed by DJ B


After the inspiring sounds of Curtis Mayfield, Miss B had absolutely no interest in the 50 Cent-produced rap of Mobb Deep. Despite the fact that she selected their Blood Money CD from the library shelf, at home she flatly refused to listen to it. On numerous occasions I tried to play it for her, with resistance every time. Considering the fact that the CD has a "Parental Advisory" sticker warning of explicit content, it's ironic that I kept pressuring Miss B to give it a fair listen. Today, on our final attempt, she said, "I don't wanna try it! I don't like it. I wanna leave it." She added, "I wanna listen to ballet music."

She did take a look at the CD booklet and played around with the case a bit, plopping it on top of her pink laptop. She said, "I just don't like it." I put it in the CD player anyway, but Miss B intercepted me, saying, "no!" as she removed it before we could hear any of the music. Is this some sort of weird toddler self-censorship? Does she somehow know that she shouldn't be listening to hardcore rap quite yet?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Curtis Mayfield a Compelling Listen During Election Week


A few weeks ago Miss B selected The Very Best of Curtis Mayfield from the public library. In the days leading up to the Presidential election, she gave it a listen and was enthralled. The opening track, "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below We're All Going To," with its strong spoken word commentary on social justice didn't elicit too much of a reaction at first. But, as soon as the music came in, DJ B did some truly funky new dance moves that included shoulder shrugs, head bouncing, and fast arm moves. As she got down on the floor, she continued with her rapid arm gestures.

Miss B's dad joined in on the dancing, and she cheered him on, saying, "Go dada, go dada!" As the second song began ("The Makings of You"), Miss B changed her dance style to some slower ballet moves that were more in keeping with the pace of the track. She said, "This one is a good ballet one," before she walked out of the room, saying "bye bye."

A few days after the election (Go Obama!), Miss B listened to the Curtis Mayfield CD again. This time she accompanied the initial track on her toy piano, tapping the keys with a tiny plastic Sippy cup piece. She grinned, laughed, and yelled "yay!!" while running about the room with her arms stretched out behind her in a flying pose. Then she marched a bit before throwing a tiara across the room. As before, "The Makings of You" inspired slow ballet dancing. As the CD continued to play and the pace quickened, she put on her fairy skirt and danced with her hands at her waist. She said, "Can you say, 'go princess!'?" as she shook her hips and twisted her body while watching her reflection in the glass of our entertainment center.

I'd like to think that Miss B's glee over the funky stylings and social commentary of Curtis Mayfield were part of her celebration of the election of Barack Obama. After all, Mayfield's music was influential in the early years of the civil rights movement, so it's awfully appropriate to revisit it during the afterglow of this historic election.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Miss B Gets Married to the Sounds of Mahler


One of the most non-descript looking CDs that DJ B has selected from the library was Gustav Mahler's Symphony No.1 with "Blumine", performed by the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. When she pulled it from the library shelf, no cover art was visible through the grungy, milky white plastic case. Yet, somehow she must have known that the music inside was going to speak to her.

When she played the CD, Miss B instantly began to do slow dance moves, spinning around. She then put her skirt on over her face like a veil and said, "Get me married. Cinderella is gonna marry me." At this point she got a bit philosophical, asking me, "You get sad when you're married?" Despite the question, she bounced about with the skirt over her face, spinning in a circle.

I asked her if she liked the music and Miss B said, "mmm hmmm." She put on her silver glittery shoes and stood still with her hands in front of her, saying, "The lights are on me. Watch me get married." She then pretended to be Sleeping Beauty and proclaimed, "I got married!" Wanting to do it again, she asked, "Help me get married. Hold my hand, so I can get married." When I asked who she was getting married to, she said, "To Cinderella and Mama and Daddy."

Today we listened to Mahler again and this time Miss B was intrigued by the picture of conductor James Judd in the booklet. She kept asking about him and wondered if he talked. Later on she referred to him as the "train guy," and she talked about how he was helping her to "get down and do gallops." Her overall assessment today was best summarized when she said, "I just love that beautiful jumping very loud song...[with the] loud drum in it...it makes me Arabesque."

Sharon Little is Fab for Interpretive Dance


I have a growing pile of promotional CDs that I've been meaning to pass along to DJ B for review, but she beat me to the punch yesterday when one of them caught her eye amid the piles on the dining room table. Recently I got sent a copy of XPN Local, Volume 2, a compilation CD put together by the University of Pennsylvania public radio station WXPN. I write about college radio for my other blog, Spinning Indie, so they sent me the comp in hopes of getting some press about it.

Miss B grabbed the CD and raced to her room so that she could check out the music on her boombox. As track one began (Sharon Little's "Follow that Sound," which by the way is the theme song for the TV show The Cleaner), she started to stomp and dance around her room. The music began with prominent percussion, a hint of Native American sounds, and bluesy female vocals. Miss B stretched out her arms and balanced herself between a chair and her crib while she danced. She leaned back and proceeded to do some intricate footwork while holding on to the furniture. She then selected a pair of shoes to wear and continued to dance with a very serious look on her face. When the song ended, she said, "I want the other one that I liked," so I showed her how she could restart the CD so that she could hear the first song again. DJ B cranked up the volume and danced some more. She donned her tiara and fairy skirt and waved her hand while pronouncing, "I'm Sleeping Beauty."

She played the Sharon Little song over and over and over, rarely giving the rest of the CD a chance. Finally she allowed the CD to track to the second song (Amos Lee's "Sweet Pea") while she danced in front of a mirror, saying, "Mama. I'm the sad princess." After accidentally hitting herself in the eye with her wand, she said, "I'm the happy princess." As track 3 began (Illinois' "Things are Gonna Be Okay"), she started to melt down, demanding her Christmas dress. After she calmed down, she turned down the volume, asking, "What is this one?" before turning it off and playing Sharon Little again. Miss B then proclaimed, "I just love that beautiful music!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Celine Dion's World Tour Infiltrates the Library


I was a bit dismayed when Miss B chose another Celine Dion CD from the public library ("Taking Chances"), as it was pure torture the first time around. But, once again, my budding DJ B seems to have a knack for predicting when something will rear its head into the public consciousness (like her penchant for Chinese music during the Beijing Olympics). Or, as we'll learn later, it may just be that the marketing demons have infiltrated our lives.

After she requested that we play this CD, the first thing Miss B did was to walk away dejected after she couldn't remove the "booklet" (cover art) from the CD case. She came back with her Panda robot and rocked him, saying, "Panda is singing." It wasn't until the 5th track ("Shadow of Love") that DJ B seemed to notice the music. She bounced and rocked out a bit while shaking her head to the beat. She then asked me to join her in a dance, saying, "go mama!" Next, she requested that her father be her dance partner for track 6 ("Surprise Surprise"). Miss B stretched her arms into the air before pretending to be Sleeping Beauty as she said, "King kiss me."

I was hoping to quickly get the CD back to the library before a repeat listen, but today I was thwarted while watching "Mornings on Two." As I drank my latte and read the paper, Miss B started to scream and pointed excitedly at the TV, saying, "that's the CD on there! the black one." I was surprised to see that she was responding to a commercial for Celine Dion's "Taking Chances World Tour 2008." I wondered if she really recognized the music, since it had been over a week since we'd listened to the CD. Thanks to Tivo we were able to rewind and investigate further. As we scanned through the ad, Miss B danced along to the music, then pointed to a CD on the screen, saying, "Just like the one we have." She asked me to get the CD, saying, "can we match it?" So, I tracked down the CD from her room, and, indeed, it was the very same one being promoted on TV. At this point Miss B was beside herself with excitement and said, "I need the CD on" before she took control and popped the disc into the player.

It's an awfully strange coincidence that DJ B selected the Celine Dion CD from the library on the heels of her world tour. I wonder if Ms. Dion's promo folks are loading up the library shelves to help build the hype. Is Miss B just a vessel for their marketing message? Is she a hapless victim of multiple impressions? Don't worry. We will resist the urge to attend Celine's November 23rd appearance at San Jose's HP Pavilion. But you can still go. Don't forget to buy a T-shirt. That's where they earn the big bucks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Miss B Gets an Early Start on Christmas (Again)


It's not uncommon for DJ B to reach for familiar CDs at the public library that she has previously checked out. Usually I intercept her and suggest that she pick a different selection since we've already borrowed that particular album. But, sometimes I just relent and let her bring home the beloved CD once again. Recently she reached for Linda Ronstadt's "Merry Little Christmas," an album that we reviewed 2 months ago. We brought it home, and, Miss B was into it even more than she was the first time around.

Miss B screamed, "Christmas! I want it louder!" After we turned on the music she climbed on the couch and gave me a big hug. She then began her ballet moves and said, "This is Christmas." She went on, saying, "I just love Christmas" and did more ballet with a huge grin on her face. She played with a toy key, galloped, and spun around. She then grabbed 2 CD cases and danced with them in her hands while doing ballet on tip toes.

With six weeks until Christmas, is your resident DJ itching for the tunes yet?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jazz Still a Tough Sell for DJ B


DJ B keeps picking up jazz CDs from the public library, but never seems super excited about them once she gives them a listen. This week's choice, SFJazz Collective 2, turned out to be no exception. As is typically the case, Miss B was very interested in reading the CD booklet (ours actually had a bright orange and yellow, seizure-inducing cover), but after only a few seconds of music (the John Coltrane track "Moment's Notice") she yelled, "It's loud!" and asked for another CD. Before we were able to take the CD out she told me, "I want to go to the library" and did a brief bounce to the music.

A few days later we again tried to listen and Miss B asked, "Is this jazz?" While she scanned the booklet she was particularly interested in a close-up picture of mallets on a vibraphone, asking, "What are those?" She was very mellow, as she read the booklet and played with the CD case. When I asked her what she thought of the music she said, "princess." When we got to the second track (Coltrane's "Naima") she started to tap the CD case with her fingers, the first indication that she was actually listening to the music. I took the CD out of the player and Miss B said to put it back in, "it's princesses."

Although she never seemed to be super engaged with the music, I suppose I should never discount Miss B's quiet enjoyment of jazz.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ali Farka Toure Brings out Miss B's Inner Ghoul


Miss B seems to be on a bit of a world music kick, at least in terms of the CDs that she's randomly grabbing from the public library. When she sat down to listen to Ali Farka Toure's African/blues album "Savane," she stayed true to form and focused on the booklet before anything else. When the music began, she bounced a bit to the beat, but then got distracted by a coupon with a pumpkin on it from the Sunday paper. She ignored the music and focused all of her attention on the coupons, staring for a long time at a picture of Mr. Clean. When she was done reading coupons, she picked up her Hello Kitty purse and started unloading its contents onto my lap. Out came a plastic scorpion ring, a drawing of Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba, a princess cell phone, a quarter, and a purple fly ring. As track 2 began, Miss B said, "I wanna turn this one off."

A few days later we listened again and Miss B cranked up the volume. She then grabbed her Halloween goodie bag and shook a variety of Halloween toys out of it. After picking up a ghoul, she asked, "This a skeleton, mama?" She continued to play with the monster action figure and then asked for my help putting his coffin back together. We played together for awhile and then she put a witch pez into the coffin. DJ B said, "sleeping in the coffin" and then did a little jig after putting the monster in it. She then brought all of the Halloween toys to the couch and did some imaginary play with a pumpkin pez, saying, "I sleep pumpkin dada...I sleeped" as she held the pumpkin pez in front of the open coffin with the monster in it.

This release from the "king of the desert blues singers" proved to be a great soundtrack in the days leading up to Halloween.

Thandiswa Makes Good Soccer Music


One of the latest CDs that DJ B selected from the public library was South African artist Thandiswa's debut album "Zabalaza." After putting the CD in the player, Miss B immediately turned up the volume and then turned to the booklet. When she heard the female vocals coming from the speakers, she began to sway and cracked a small smile. In spite of her vaguely positive response, she turned off the music and asked to try something else.

A few days later Miss B requested this CD again. After the music began, she climbed up into a chair next to me to snuggle. A short time later she got off the chair and began to dance about, wearing her ballet shoes. She shook her hair like a rock star, then did some wild dancing while saying, "ballet moves...like this!" She then lifted her head up and down and eventually rested her head on the chair arm dramatically. When she stopped, she demanded, "I want Cheerios in a cup!" and then wandered off into the kitchen.

When I asked her what the music sounded like, she said, "princesses." Then, she picked up her Dora the Explorer soccer ball and asked me to throw it to her. When I asked if she liked the music, she said, "yep," and continued to kick her soccer ball.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Indie Rock on Sesame Street

I guess I'm a bad parent because, as of yet, Miss B has not watched a single episode of "Sesame Street." I grew up watching that show, but for some reason it has never occurred to me to expose her to it. Of course she's known about Elmo since birth as his face adorned her very first pair of diapers.

The only Sesame-esque media that DJ B has watched was the public library copy of "Elmo's Potty Time." She LOVED it and it was cool, even surreal at times. My favorite scene was in the toilet paper factory. Genius! I hate to admit it, but we also still sing some of the tunes from it ("It's potty time...gotta get down lowww...it's potty time, gotta go with the flow") when behind closed doors. Potty training can be a very embarrassing time for parents....

"It's Potty Time" from Elmo's Potty Time Video


An article on Spin.com this week "Indie Rockers Find New Fans in the Preschool Set" by Ellen Carpenter talks about some of the famous musical guests on Sesame Street, including a recent stint by the artist Feist. Ellen's two and a half year old niece Rilla watches the Feist segment obsessively and perhaps may be a budding DJ B with a taste for non-kid music. Ellen writes:

"Right now, she only has time for Feist. My brother finally broke down and bought Feist's 2007 album The Reminder. Rilla's new favorite song is "Sea Lion Woman," which was originally popularized by Nina Simone. Nina Simone! I'm fully expecting Rilla to be into Bessie Smith, the Soft Boys, and Neu! before she turns three."

Indeed! I look forward to hearing 2-year-old Rilla's reviews.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

John Coltrane is Great Grocery Shopping Music


Next up from the public library shelves was some classic jazz from John Coltrane. DJ B selected the CD "Live at the Village Vanguard: The Master Takes." She was a little disappointed in the enclosed booklet, as she was unable to open it. We soon realized that it was actually just a piece of cardboard with album art on the front and back. She didn't respond to the music, but did ask me, "Wanna watch my move?" before stretching her leg into the air. She quickly turned off Coltrane and requested Nortec Collective.

The following day we tried John Coltrane again and Miss B initially said, "no...I want Easy Ride!," but I persisted and kept it in the player. She did some more ballet moves and then grabbed her toy shopping cart. As beautiful jazz played in the background, DJ B pushed her shopping cart back and forth across the room, while consulting her imaginary list. She said, "purple cauliflower, Mac 'n Cheese, yogurt, some yogurt and um...what else...squash?" Eventually she unloaded her cart, found a toy penguin and squeaked it. Later she ate her dinner, while the music continued to play. I asked if she liked it and she just nodded.

Once again, jazz proves to be just background music for Miss B as she goes about her daily activities.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nortec Collective Prompts Miss B to Play Accordion on a Slinky

The Latin-electronic hybrid music of Nortec Collective's "Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3" was the latest CD that Miss B selected from the public library. She listened to this album on multiple occasions and didn't have too much reaction to it. As she typically does these days, she immediately pulled the booklet out of the case to check out all the pictures and liner notes. On first listen she asked for it to be turned off after less than a song. The next time she rocked a little bit and did a slight dance before asking for cheddar bunnies.

Finally, we listened as a whole family and Miss B eventually did some big, elaborate dance moves to track 8 ("Almada"). The next day she really got into "Tijuana Makes Me Happy," and marched around the room stretching a pink slinky open and closed like an accordion, probably not even realizing that she was listening to an accordion in the song. Unfortunately DJ B's dad had a much stronger reaction to the same track, saying, "This song was running through my head this morning and it was annoying me. I'd rather hear Celine Dion." Harsh!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Canto-Pop Whips Miss B into a Frenzy


It's the rare library CD that prompts an immediate, enthusiastic response from Miss B and once again, the culprit is Asian pop. As soon as we slipped "The Easy Ride," the CD from Eason Chan's 2001 concert at the Hong Kong Coliseum, into the player, DJ B began dancing wildly. She closed her eyes, stretched her arms over her head and lifted her leg into the air. She then said, "Help me spin around, mama. Help me spin around fast."

She took a quick break from the dancing to read the enclosed booklet. After spotting the second CD, she asked to take a listen to that. While listening to the live concert recording, Miss B would pause to clap along when she heard applause. Her dancing continued, and she told me, "it's princess music." We continued to play this and dance as it grew closer to the time when Miss B's father would return home. As he walked in the door, he was a bit taken aback by the loud, dramatic Canto-pop and the sight of Miss B grooving to the tunes with closed eyes.

The next day we played this again and DJ B danced for a little while before turning off the CD and telling me, "For later. When dada comes back." Clearly this is music that deserves an audience and Miss B caught on to that instantly.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lead Belly Makes Miss B Think about Pizza


One of the more interesting releases that DJ B has grabbed from the public library shelf was Lead Belly's "Absolutely the Best." These very early blues recordings caught my attention immediately and I hoped that Miss B would be similarly entranced.

She did sway a bit when the music started, taking a cursory look at the booklet. But this was short-lived enthusiasm, as she stopped the CD before the end of track 1 and demanded her favorite TV show.

A few days later we listened to it again and DJ B didn't react much at all. She played with a Kleenex box, laughed, and ran around the room saying, "mmmm...pizza." She pretended to eat pizza, galloped, then danced for a few seconds. When the second track began, she started to march. When I asked her what it sounded like, she said, "Uh. good." She turned her attention to the booklet again and tried to insert it into the VCR. As "Goodnight, Irene" started to play, she ejected the CD and moved on to the next thing.

It turns out that Lead Belly also released a popular children's album, "Lead Belly Sings for Children." I wonder if Miss B would be more drawn to that?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nigel Kennedy is all Bark, Sounds like Cinderella

Appearances can be deceiving. When DJ B selected Nigel Kennedy's "Greatest Hits" CD from the public library, I was a bit skeptical about the music just based on the cover photo. The picture turned me off, as it looked like somebody working really hard to say "I'm radical!" Of course, I hoped that he really was radical, as I'm a fan of string music and was sort of intrigued to hear if this was a collection of deconstructed violin sounds.

Miss B's response to this was quite telling, as she paid considerable attention to the artwork, but had little response to the classical violin music. As we turned the music on, she was very interested in the CD booklet and kept pointing at pictures, asking, "Is that him? Is that him with paint on?" She scrutinized each page of the liner notes and got very upset when I tried to take them from her, saying, "Hey! This is my mat! [her term for CD booklet]"

I had to prompt Miss B in order to get any sort of reaction to the music. When I asked her what the music sounded like, she said, "Cinderella...like a princess." I probed further, asking her what the music was good for and she said, "Cinderella." I asked if it was dancing music, and she replied, "Yes. It's Cinderella dancing music." When I asked if it was sleeping music, she also said, "Yes. With Cinderella. Night night time." From that point on she kept referring to this album as "Cinderella music" and she told me that liked it.

As it turns out, the CD wasn't as radical as one would expect, with its violin solos of compositions from classical greats like Vivaldi, Debussy, and Bach. For Miss B, that was just fine, as the Nigel Kennedy album was sort of a blank slate, on to which she could superimpose her current princess passion.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Deftones Too Scary for DJ B


Oh, goody! One of Miss B's library picks was slapped with a parental advisory sticker for "explicit content." She must have known, since the first thing she said when examining the Deftones' "Saturday Night Wrist" cover art was, "Is it scary?" On first listen, she started dancing immediately, but then she turned off the music after only a few seconds and asked for Celine Dion.

Today I attempted to play this again and was met with protestation. Miss B said, "I don't like this. I don't like it!" and turned it off after less than a song. Despite that, she still asked to look at the booklet. After leafing through it, she said, "Put it back in there."

Oh well, this rock CD from the public library's "teen" section was past-due anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Surprise, Surprise...Miss B Digs Classic Musicals


Following DJ B's second ballet class, she decided to investigate "Leading Men Sing the Movie Classics," a CD collection that she picked up from the San Francisco Public Library. After hearing the name of the CD, she asked, "Is this classic?" Then, as the music dramatically began with Gene Kelly's "Singin' In the Rain," Miss B started demonstrating her new ballet skills. She pounded her chest, grabbed a pair of flip flops, ran toward me, then stopped to dance in place. She then leaned on me and extended her leg in the air behind her. Following that, she twirled around with her hands over her head like a ballerina. As she spun in a circle, she got dizzy, then closed her eyes, swayed, and fell over.

Miss B then got on the floor, closed her eyes, and did a very slow dance before she started to roll around with her eyes still closed. We then danced together for awhile before Miss B opted to set up a picnic on the floor. She donned her sunhat and strapped her Hello Kitty purse over her shoulder in preparation for the pretend outing.

This morning during breakfast, we checked it out again. Miss B listened to it quietly, while bouncing her legs to the beat. After she finished eating, she marched around the room to James Cagney's version of "Yankee Doodle Boy." She did some ballet, played a few notes on her toy piano, and pranced about with an old baby teether in her mouth while simultaneously talking on her toy cell phone to her imaginary friend. Her dancing got faster and faster and we deemed this album full of songs from classic musicals from the 1930s to 1950s a big hit for a Saturday morning.

Celine Dion Disturbs DJ B's Parents


One of the most cringe-worthy CDs that Miss B has selected from the public library thus far is Celine Dion's "The Collector's Series Volume One" from 2000. Initially DJ B was drawn to it when we were selecting music that she thought her grandpa would enjoy, but her interest didn't go beyond the cover art, as she had me stop it before the music even started. The next time we tried it, she didn't get much further, ejecting the CD after only a few seconds on her first listen.

With Celine's due date looming, we attempted another listen yesterday. Miss B looked at the booklet and swayed a bit when the music started. After grabbing my cell phone, she ran off with it, pretending to talk to her imaginary friend. She then yelled, "I want Pocoyo!" (her new favorite TV show) and before we had even reached the end of the over-the-top Atlanta Olympics Opening Ceremony version of "The Power of the Dream," DJ B declared: "I all done" and ejected the CD. I can't say I was disappointed in her distaste for the over-produced (just count the number of engineers listed in the liner notes!) pop.

Today, just for my poor husband's benefit, I played a bit of the CD again. This time Miss B didn't even look up from her reading material. The strongest reaction in the household was from my husband, who said that it was "unnerving" to hear Celine Dion playing in our house. I have to agree.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Queen Latifah is Good Grandpa Music


We got some really sad news in the DJ B household this week as Miss B's grandpa died. Since I'm a big fan of using music as a coping mechanism, I immediately asked Miss B to pick out a library CD that she thought her grandpa would like. I handed her a pile of 8 library CDs (yes...we're really backlogged) and she scrutinized each one of them very carefully before handing me a Celine Dion CD. As I started to put it in the player, Miss B changed her mind, telling, me, "No. This one" as she handed me Queen Latifah's "Trav'Lin' Light."

DJ B looked through the CD booklet and smiled, then ran to me, saying, "I want that snake. I want that snake right now." I'm not sure what she wanted, so I changed the subject and asked her, "Do you think grandpa would like this music?" She said, "yeah." I asked if she liked it and she also said, "yeah."

As we listened to this lovely CD of jazzy R & B influenced pop and standards, Miss B climbed on some chairs and then lounged a bit before settling in with an LL Bean catalog. She quietly listened to the music while reading the Christmas catalog. Later she moved to the floor with some pens and started to draw some pictures. She held one up to show me, saying, "This is for Grandpa...because he's sad and sick." She then grabbed a blanket and said, "snuggle me up. snuggle me in."

Who would have thought that the soothing vocals and classic sounds of Queen Latifah (covering Nina Simone, Peggy Lee and others) would be such a fitting tribute to Miss B's departed grandpa? And, yeah, I think he would have liked this music...just as DJ B predicted.

Hall and Oates? Miss B Can't Go for That (No Can Do)


The other CD that Miss B was drawn to when she visited the San Francisco Public Library Bookmobile was Daryl Hall & John Oates' "The Collection," a CD set of "3 original album classics." As with the De La Soul pick, this release was chosen by Miss B based on the spine of the album since she couldn't see the cover artwork on the packed CD shelf. I surmise that this one stood out because it was larger than other CDs since it's a 3-CD set. Again, this album was in perfect condition and had probably never been checked out of the library before. I talked to our branch librarian about this and she clued me in to the fact that most items in the Bookmobile are in excellent condition, as the library doesn't want to be trotting around a bus full of grimy books and CDs. Good to know!

I have fond memories of making fun of Hall & Oates when I was a teenager, so I was curious to see how Miss B would respond to their mainstream '80s pop. The first thing she said when checking out the CD was, "There's no booklet!" She spent a lot of time searching through the case, but it turned up empty. I have to say that I agree with DJ B, that is disappointing for a 3 CD set to not include a booklet.

The first CD she put in was "Voices," which she listened to for a matter of seconds before ejecting. Next she tried "H20," and found it worthy dance music. She danced in circles, swayed side to side while eating some crackers, and generally enjoyed the release until track 8. She then proclaimed, "I don't like this" and moved on to other things.

The next day DJ B tried the final CD "Private Eyes." She was wearing last year's Halloween costume at the time and was game for a little bit of dancing as the music started. She quickly grew bored, tried the other CDs again, and, finally pronounced again, "I don't like it" before removing the CD from the player.

So, in response to the stupid joke from my high school days, "Who do you like better: Hall or Oates?," Miss B's answer would have to be "neither."

Friday, September 12, 2008

De La Soul Charms DJ B


Last week DJ B and I were out and about when we spotted a Bookmobile. Intrigued by what musical gems might be stored within, I grabbed Miss B and we raced up the steps to tour the "Bookmob's" wares. The shelf was jam-packed with CDs, so Miss B was unable to pick by cover art. She seemed to revert to her old method, as she was first drawn to the bright pink-spine of the essential De La Soul album "3 Feet High and Rising." At long last Miss B picked out an album that I actually own, so I was thrilled.

San Francisco Bookmob!

The CD itself was pristine, as if it had never been touched by human hands and was quite a far-cry from most of the well-loved and circulated music that we pick up at our local branch. No way was I going to let Miss B do the DJing on this one. Gotta keep it nice and clean.

On first listen, DJ B wasn't too interested in the skits and jangly classic hip hop, stopping it after only a song or two. But, when we tried it again later she really got into it. She heard "batmobile" on one track and repeated it with a smile on her face. Later she bounced in her seat while perusing the CD case and booklet. She then grabbed my pen and started to write in my notebook, saying, "I a writer...about the music," clearly copying what I do when working on these CD reviews with her.

Today we listened again and she immediately got into it, dancing while holding a bowl of Cheerios. She smiled, repeatedly patted my leg, then waved at me. While listening she crept around the room, acting very sneaky. All of a sudden she bit my leg. After that she went behind the curtain, curled up on the floor and pretended to nap. As we got to track 9 "Eye Know," she turned down the volume, then cranked it up before donning her headphones for some dancing time.

All in all, De La Soul seemed to touch DJ B in a variety of ways and that is, indeed, the power of great music.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Indie Pop Makes DJ B Say "Ehhh"


On a recent trip to the public library Miss B picked up a well-loved CD in a broken case, held together by rubber bands. The 2005 self-titled release by music critic fave Clap Your Hands Say Yeah initially prompted little reaction other than DJ B running to me to request a hug. She then grabbed the mangled CD case, saying, "I want the booklet." After scanning the liner notes, she ran and sat on a plastic storage bin positioned by the CD player. More excited by her new ballet shoes, she ran back and forth trying them out. After a few songs, Miss B started to dance to the music and then lifted one leg very high into the air, then moved her arms. Perhaps she was imitating the moves on the cover art? She then proclaimed, "I want some milk."

Later on, while eating lunch, we listened to this CD some more. Desperately in need of a nap, Miss B started to throw a tantrum and screamed, "I don't like this music" through her cries.

I guess one has to be in the right frame of mind for indie rock.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Miss B Cools off with Linda Ronstadt's Christmas Album


First of all, we're so excited in the DJ B household, because we got a really nice mention in the Baby Beats column of the San Jose Mercury News last week. The author, Yoshi Kato, writes about all kinds of musical events for kids in the San Francisco Bay Area AND is a huge fan of kids sharing their parents' musical passions. Right on. We could not agree more.

Now, on to the fresh reviews!

On a record-breaking day of 90+ degree heat in San Francisco this week, DJ B decided that it was the perfect time to take a listen to one of her latest public library selections: Linda Ronstadt's "Merry Little Christmas" CD. When we first popped it in to our DVD player it would not play. I suspect anti-pirating technology. Damn! So, we headed off to her more low-tech bedroom boombox to try it and it worked like a charm. Miss B immediately cranked up the volume, then grabbed her SF Giants baseball cap and put it on, even though it was several sizes too small.

Miss B then situated herself on the floor, grabbed a blanket, and tucked herself in with a stuffed bunny. As the music continued, she changed her shoes and began dancing and twirling around. She switched shoes again and did a swaying dance move with her eyes closed to "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Today, however, the fog had rolled back in and Miss B had no interest in connecting with the cooling sounds of Ms. Ronstadt, saying, "I don't like it" before she turned off the CD to pursue other interests.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Miss B Enjoys the Wild Percussion of 12 Girls Band

Wrapping up DJ B's trio of Chinese music for the week, we now turn our attention to the 12 Girls Band release "Miracle Live 2003." Although Miss B found this on the CD shelf at the public library, it's classified by the library as a "video," since it's a video CD. For us that meant that we were only allocated a 1-week rental (vs. 3 weeks for CDs), so we had to act quickly.

When we first put this in the DVD player Miss B just stared at the screen, transfixed like she is when watching most TV programs. Disc 1 began with images of nature, then moved into concert footage of the 12 Girls Band. As soon as the musicians appeared on screen Miss B asked, "What are doing?"[sic] She then pointed out to me that, "It has colors on there...like blue" as she observed the different colored lights used to illuminate the band during the performance.

She then requested the second disc. As the music resumed, she said, "It's hard to see this music...because it's blue...because my eyes [sunglasses] are not on." I'm not exactly sure what she was getting at, but something about the stage lighting seemed to make it difficult for her to see something- either the musicians or the instruments. When I asked her what it sounded like she said "yogurt." When I asked what she liked most about the music, she said, "purple." She then turned her attention to the booklet, saying, "I want a dress on. Just like her. On the CD...I want a skirt on. A fancy skirt on just like her fancy skirt." She then lounged on me holding the CD case, saying, "I like it. I like it" while holding her foot and shaking it to the beat of the music.

Miss B then ran out of the room, put a fancy skirt on, and returned carrying drum sticks. She raced around the room waving her drum sticks, saying "ooo oooo." On the video we then saw some intense percussion, with band members banging drum sticks on metal cabinets. DJ B imitated what she saw for awhile, then picked up 2 maracas for some fast dancing, followed by a double tambourine dance, and finally she ended her recital by waving 2 shaker eggs.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

DJ B Tortures Her Parents with Bad Chinese Pop Covers


So, on the same library trip in which Miss B selected the delightful album Qi Yuan, she also picked out a few other Chinese releases. She wasn't even watching the Olympics, so it's an odd coincidence that suddenly she was drawn to this music.

Her 2nd choice in Chinese music was categorized by the library as Ye Qianwen's "25 Zhou Nian," but emblazoned on each of the 2 CDs is the name Sally Yip. After a bit of research I learned that Sally Yip aka Sally Yeh is a Hong Kong pop singer and this album from 2004 translates to "25 Years of Sally Yeh."

After DJ B requested this album for play, she swayed a bit to the music before donning her silver glittery shoes for some dancing. She grabbed her favorite mouse pad/dance floor and grooved for a bit on it, before tossing it to the side so that she could do some more extensive ballet maneuvers. She pointed her toes, waved her arms in the air, posed in place, then asked her father to dance with her. During a break between songs she raced to her toy piano to play until the music resumed. As the pace of the music picked up, Miss B ran in circles going faster and faster and her dance moves grew increasingly dramatic. As a cover of the Madonna song "La Isla Bonita" began, Miss B smiled broadly, giggled and said, "I'm laughing at you guys." She then made robot faces, told me the music sounded like "stars," then twirled before rolling around on the floor.

While all this was going on, Miss B's father and I realized that we were hearing lots of Western pop covers---from Madonna to Celine Dion's Titanic theme song. Despite DJ B's manic glee upon being exposed to this hybrid of Chinese and Western pop, her parents were a little cheesed out.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Miss B Celebrates the Beijing Olympics with Chinese "Princess" Music


The next public library CD to catch DJ B's eye was a Chinese album called Qi Yuan. After hearing the opening notes, Miss B started to dance immediately then said, "I want my skirt" and ran to her room to find her silk fairy skirt. She put it on, danced some more, then was off to her room again for more treasures. She returned wearing silver glittery shoes.

Miss B then pointed to the CD booklet and asked, "Who is on that?" She opened up the booklet, which is completely in Chinese and put it close to her face for further examination. She asked again, "Who is that? Is it the princess?" She then started to dance again and said, "I want a wand. You get the wand sweetums." DJ B cranked up the volume and did some slow ballet moves, stretching her arms into the air and then behind her. She suddenly realized that her shoes were on the wrong feet, but continued with the ballet, doing some slow, exaggerated moves and lifting her leg into the air. She again asked for the wand. After I found it she waved it around while dancing, then started to clap while bending her knees.

Since that first listen, this CD has been on constant rotation and has become DJ B's new favorite. She's been dancing to it and sleeping to it. The ultimate compliment!

Today I finally found out what we've been listening to (thank you co-worker of Pam!). First of all, the princess lady on the cover is Grammy nominated Chinese singer Song Zuying, who was actually featured in the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics over the weekend performing a duet with Placido Domingo. Who knew that Miss B's selection was so timely!

According to my translator, the album is a collection of works by the songwriter Zhang Minghe performed by various artists including Song Zuying, Man Wenjun, Sun Yue and Sun Meina. Most of the songs are love songs or ballads and are certainly great for dancing.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Latin Music Enlivens DJ B


On our next library trip, DJ B carefully scanned the shelves in search of the perfect musical specimens. She kept grabbing more and more CDs until we had six in total. When we went to check them out, I learned that we'd maxed out on our CD limit for the library. What to do? After some creative distribution of our booty across both of our library cards we were good to go, so on to #1!

Miss B's first requested album was the collection "15 Cumbias" by 5 Super Grupos, including Tam y Tex, Sabiduria Nortena, Grupo Cauza Nortena, El Cartel de Nuevo Leon, and Los Nortenitos de Ojinaga. Her initial response was to bop a bit to the music while looking at the booklet. She then talked about the photos, saying, "that is another drum right there...green drum right there...this one is a red drum."

After giving me the lowdown on the liner notes she waved her arms, smiled and danced, saying "don't look at me!" She danced some more, turned down the volume, smiled, shrugged her shoulders, then turned her attention back to the booklet while she sat in a chair. When she wrapped the booklet around her foot, I took it as a sign that nap time was near. I asked if she wanted to listen to the cumbias for her nap and she politely declined. Since DJ B seems to be in charge of nap time these days, I gladly accepted her musical wishes.

Roy and Diz Quickly Dismissed by DJ B


The third and final CD from DJ B's latest library batch was Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie's "Roy and Diz," a 1954 jazz recording. I'm sure that part of what interested Miss B when she pulled it off the library shelf, was the lovely album art. Yes, that initial allure was not in evidence when she sampled the CD at home. The first time we played it, she said, "I don't like it" as soon as the music came out of the speakers. When we tried again later, she said, "I don't want to sing it" and stopped the CD player after just a few seconds. I continued to prompt her to listen to the release, to no avail. Poor Roy and Diz, Miss B just wasn't in the mood for jazz.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Orchestra Baobab is Good for Quiet Time


In addition to NOFX, one of the other picks on Miss B's recent library jaunt was Orchestra Baobab's critically acclaimed CD "Pirates Choice." DJ B selected it from the shelf, even though there was no album art or booklet to lure her in. The first time we put this CD in she didn't pay too much attention to the music and instead put her Dora shin guards on and asked to blow bubbles.

We gave this another chance today and Miss B gave it her full attention. While we listened she sat quietly in a chair, swaying from side to side while munching on Cheddar bunnies. When some male vocals and saxophone burst from the speakers, DJ B said, "Baobab" and smiled. She repeated "Baobab. Baobab. Baobab" while tapping her hand on the CD case and then sidled up next to me and sat on my lap. She wiggled her toes, shrugged her shoulders to the beat, rocked herself and hummed while she nestled in my arms. Later we both got up to dance a bit to the tropical sounds. When I asked Miss B if she liked the music, she said, "Mmmm Hmmm." Before I knew it we had listened to Disc 1 in its entirety, which is a rarity for DJ B, what with her 2-year-old attention span.

Overall, DJ B found the Senegalese/Cuban/jazz-flavored sounds of Orchestra Baobab to be pleasant music for a lazy morning at home.

College Radio DJ's Library Tour

I was just researching University of Texas radio station KVRX for my college radio blog Spinning Indie, when I ran across a blog series called Pimping the Public Library. College radio DJ Doktor Ana has been hitting up the Austin Public Library searching for musical gems since early July. On her blog she's written reviews of some of her discoveries, including surf music, international sounds, and the '80s box set "Left of the Dial: Dispatches from the '80s Underground."

Additionally, she's been able to track down harder to find music by using inter-library loan. Wow! What a concept. Now if Miss B and I were actually searching for stuff methodically (vs. grabbing from the shelves at random), this would be a wonderful tip. Or, perhaps inter-library loan can be DJ B's Library Tour Version 2.0 when she tires of the shelf inventory.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

NOFX Cures Tantrums


After finally squeezing that Etta Baker review out of Miss B, we can now move on to other selections from the public library tour. I was so excited when DJ B chose the NOFX release "Wolves in Wolves' Clothing" the other week. She hasn't reviewed any punk yet, so I was dying to hear her reaction to it.

The first time we played it Miss B was luckily not paying too much attention, as the opening track is littered with prominent swear words. She was more focused on the booklet, which she desperately wanted to pull out of the CD case. After listening to the music for a few seconds she said, "I don't like NOFX." She stopped the CD and took it out.

A few days later, on a particularly stressful, tantrum-filled morning, Miss B grabbed the NOFX CD and wanted to listen to it. She asked for the booklet and then cozied up on the couch with it while I put the CD on. This time I fast forwarded to the swear-free second track, so that I wouldn't get in trouble with her preschool teachers for teaching her profanity.

While listening to NOFX this time around, DJ B was mesmerized. She sat quietly on the couch listening and I was reminded of one of my 5th grade classmates who was given coffee from a thermos all day long in order to calm his hyperactivity. Could this be the same principle? Have I discovered that if one plays punk music for a tantrum obsessed 2-year-old they cross over some sort of threshold into mellowness? Genius.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Etta Baker Gives Miss B the Blues


The final CD from Miss B's latest library trip came from Ms. Etta Baker. "One-Dime Blues," a Rounder release from 1991, turned out to be not so intriguing for DJ B.

When Miss B first saw the CD cover she asked, "What's that one? Is it Grandma?" Yet, the first few times I tried to play it for her she turned it off immediately or had no reaction to it. One day she asked for Etta Baker, yet when I put it on she didn't seem interested.

Today, I played it again for her and Miss B asked, "What are you putting on?" I said, "Etta Baker," to which she replied, "I don't like Etta Baker." She tolerated the music for a few minutes while she played with her cat flashlight, but turned the music off before the first track came to an end. She proclaimed, "I want to play my music" and went to her piano to play a song of her own creation. Surprisingly, she then asked to hold the Etta Baker CD before putting it in the player. As she listened to the music, I asked her what it sounded like and she said, "like a guitar." Miss B then requested milk and turned the CD off again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Miss B Not Enthralled by Aerosmith's "Pink" Album


When Miss B pointed out the three CDs that she wanted at the library last week, her first request was for "the pink one," which turned out to be Aerosmith's "Just Push Play." I was kind of excited about this one, wondering what her reaction might be to a heavy rock album.

Well...her glee didn't extend much beyond the pink cover. When we first put the CD on she tapped her feet a bit and smiled at me. She listened for awhile and then asked, "This is Alice Cooper?" She smiled some more, rocked her feed a bit, then growled. She pointed her toe on the ground, pointed the other toe, patted her knee and danced in place a bit. She then turned down the volume, declaring, "I want Alice Cooper."

I tried to play Aerosmith again on another day and DJ B turned down the volume, then turned it off completely, saying, "No. No. No...No I don't like it!" before she physically removed the CD from the player.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Alice Cooper Looks Scary


DJ B is getting a bit more precise when choosing her CDs from the public library. Back in the beginning, she would either just go for brightly colored spines or simply grab a bunch of CDs that were next to each other on the shelf. Last week, though, she carefully scanned the shelves and picked out three CDs from different sections that caught her eye based on the covers.

"Mascara & Monsters: The Best of Alice Cooper," was the first album that she chose to listen to from her latest batch. After putting on the CD, Miss B's attention immediately turned to the brightly colored, photo-filled booklet, which Miss B calls a "mat" for some reason. As she looked through the booklet she asked, "Who's that?" When I said "Alice Cooper," she replied, "Look scary." She asked tons of questions about all of the pictures and then looked at the cover art and proclaimed, "they have noses." She then said, "I pretend" as she played some air guitar. Her next move was to run around the room, playing with a flying disc and soccer ball. Later she snuggled on the couch, yawned, then threw a tantrum.

We listened to the album multiple times that first day and waves of nostalgia came over me as I rocked out to classic hits like "School's Out," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," and my favorite "Clones (We're All)." Since we both became a little obsessed with this release, it's not surprising that Miss B kept asking for it. She said, "Where's Alice Cooper?" After putting on the music again, DJ B perused the booklet and informed me "This is Alice Cooper." She continued, "Looks scary. This is scary. Wanna see it?"

So this week my little Miss B learned the allure of the scary. Rock on, sister!

P.S. After writing this, I read that Vince Clarke's kid digs Alice Cooper too. According to San Jose Mercury's Baby Beats column author Yoshi Kato in his piece last month, "When interviewing techno-pop musician Vince Clarke - of Erasure, Yaz and Depeche Mode fame - I asked him what sort of music he and his 2 1/2-year-old son listen to together. He said they've been downloading a lot of '70s music. 'He really likes glam rock, the Sweet and Alice Cooper.'"

There you go. Every 2-year-old should give Alice Cooper a listen.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

To the Sounds of Patti Scialfa, Miss B Channels Her Inner Snow Angel


The third and final CD from Miss B's recent collection of public library finds was Patti Scialfa's "23rd Street Lullaby." When DJ B grabbed the CD to play she asked me, "What's this one?" When I replied, "Patti Scialfa," Miss B then said, "I like Patti LuPone." Wrong Patti! But, funny that she thought she liked the other Patti's CD, when I distinctly remember that her review was called "No, I don't want Patti LuPone!"

While listening to Ms. Scialfa (perhaps best known as Bruce Springsteen's lady love), Miss B sat on the arm of the couch and tapped her feet while guarding 2 remote controls. She grinned and then stood up on the couch. After returning to the floor, she asked me to "bounce," put her hands over her face and bowed her head a few times requesting that I do the same. She then got on her back, saying "like an angel" as she moved her arms and legs as if she was making a snow angel. Taking a break from that, she then sat down on the floor to play her toy piano.

A few days later we put this in the CD player again. This time DJ B turned down the volume pretty quickly saying, "I don't want it." She immediately issued an order to her father (coincidentally, the only Boss fan in the house), saying, "You turn it off, dada."

Friday, August 8, 2008

DJ B Dismisses another Jazz Lady


Next up in DJ B's pile of CDs from the public library was Mabel Mercer's double CD "Once in a Blue Moon/Midnight at Mabel Mercer's." Initially Miss B wanted to check out CD2 ("Once in a Blue Moon"), but as soon as we played it, she said, "I want milk." After quenching her thirst, she asked me to dance with her, then said, "spin me around," before she sank into the couch to read some books. We listened to the classic 1950s jazz sounds of Ms. Mercer for awhile and then Miss B turned off the CD.

We tried CD1 ("Midnight at Mabel Mercer's") a few days later and Miss B just continued with her own business of reading books and not paying much attention to the music. Today when I tried yet again, she just told me flat out that she didn't want to hear it.

Coincidentally, the CD booklet includes an oddly similar review: "Make no mistake: she's not spectacular...you may not even appreciate her the first time around...her subtle brand of singing is an acquired taste" (quoting Victor Lownes III, from original liner notes to "Midnight at Mabel Mercer's").

DJ B couldn't have said it better herself.

Algerian Folk Doesn't Draw in DJ B


A few weeks back DJ B picked up a new group of CDs from the public library. With all the live performances and promo CDs that we've been reviewing, it's been hard to keep up with our weekly random picks...but here we go.

The first of the three this time around was Souad Massi's "Honeysuckle." The French resident was born in Algeria and sings folk songs in Arabic.

Although I was quite interested to hear this album, Miss B didn't pay too much attention to it. Instead she wanted to play with her new Hello Kitty lunch bag, which she promptly filled with all three library CDs. She exclaimed "I love bugs," and then started to thumb through the liner notes. Her chatter then turned to the impending arrival of her beloved babysitter and Miss B informed me: "I don't want to go to bed."

I tried to play the CD again later, and again, I got no response other than the request to turn it off moments later.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Blankies Teach Miss B a Lesson

Image from The Blankies website

With The Blankies' "Learn" album we reach the end of our first trio of promotional CDs. When Miss B saw the case, she pulled out the cover art and wanted to open it. She seemed disappointed that it was just once sheet (perhaps she was spoiled by the massive book in her Verdi CD?). She barely gave this a chance, saying "I want the other one" after only one song.

However, days later she was asking for "The Blankies," so leave it to Miss B to be entitled to her ever-changing opinion. As for me, I kind of liked the sweet poppy sounds and boy-girl vocals of the Blankies, and was reminded of the minimalism of classic K bands.

In addition to the educational lyrical content, this CD taught us another lesson when I went to listen to it this week. I popped it in the player and it started skipping on the first track. When I looked at the CD it was full of scratches, no doubt by my resident DJ B. This was a sobering reminder to me that, yes, indeed Miss B is still a 2-year-old DJ in training and we need to work on those "CD handling" lessons again. Can someone write a song about that, please?

Monday, August 4, 2008

I'm Totally Like Wow. Rock Daddy Rock

Image from Rock Daddy Rock website

The second CD in Miss B's first batch of promos was the just-released Rock Daddy Rock's "Silly Short Songs for Silly Short People." When DJ B saw the case she asked, "What's this one?" When I answered, she exclaimed, "Yes! Rock Daddy Rock." Upon initial listen she bounced her legs a bit and picked up the CD case for closer inspection. When we got to the second track ("Don't Hit, Don't Spit"), she began to creep slowly about the room, then transitioned into more elaborate dancing with jumps. During one song ("Where is the Bathroom?") she heard a toilet flushing and immediately laughed, saying, "It's funny flushes." She listened to this for a full 12 tracks, then took it out to play Teacher and the Rockbots again.

Although it wasn't Miss B's most favorite album this week, Rock Daddy Rock was a fun CD with hilarious lyrics about boogers, farts, burps, dirty nails and diapers. Plus, the '80s teen in me cracked up when I heard the phrase "I'm totally, like, wow" in the song "Your Room's a Mess."

If you liked the lyrics like I did, you'll be psyched to hear that a children's book based on this is in the works. According to the Rock Daddy Rock website, "The Rock Daddy Rock project started as a series of poems with the goal of publishing a children's picture book..."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Old Time Music at the Library

On Tuesday, there was more live music at our local San Francisco public library. The Knuckle Knockers, from San Francisco's Bernal Heights, played old time music to a packed room full of tots, kids, and adults. The 2 talented ladies sang tunes hearkening back to a simpler time in Appalachian country or on the farm. They talked to the kids about life 100 years ago, when families would entertain themselves with homemade music in the evenings, rather than plugging in to TV, iPods and cell phones.

Knuckle Knockers, July 2008

They talked a bit about the instruments, including the distinction between violin and fiddle (it depends on how it's played), the origin of the banjo (Africa) and guitar (Spain). Most fascinating of all were the questions from the preschoolers in the audience. One girl asked, "How could the rabbit be gone?," which led to a whole discussion about vegetarianism vs. rabbit eating on the farm for survival back in the day. Someone else asked, "What's inside the guitar?" to which another kid responded, "air." Who knew that the youngins' could be so insightful!

The music was amazing and Miss B seemed to enjoy herself, although the room was way to crowded for dancing. She did manage to bounce and sway in her seat, with the occasional hand clap when appropriate. When I asked her what the music sounded like, she said, "dirty nails." Hmmm. Sometimes I think she's just messing with me.

Punk Rock and Science a Winning Combo for DJ B

DJ B's music review pile is growing and growing, especially with the addition of 3 freebie CDs (her first!) that we got in the mail courtesy of musician/producer Chris Bihuniak. When we opened the package, Miss B was super excited and said, "Oooooo....CDs!" She then observed, "Oh, CDs have tape on them." This was a special treat since DJ B typically doesn't see new, wrapped CDs.

The first of the 3 CDs that caught Miss B's eye was the Teacher and the Rockbots "Science" album, full of educational songs about topics like the scientific method, human organs, and digestion. The lyrics are sassy and the music nods at the drama of punk rock and new wave.

After the music started, Miss B smiled at the robot voices and seemed mesmerized by what she heard. She said, "That CD has a mat." When I asked her what she thought of it, she said, "It has mats on it" and pointed at the case. Huh?

Later on she requested this album, saying, "I want rock." She then raced over to a promotional mouse pad that was on the carpet and danced in place, kind of like a pogo-ing New Waver on a crowded dance floor. She then got on her knees, patted her legs to the beat and screamed "yay!"

I agree, yipee for some fun music aimed at kids that makes me nostalgic for whimsical '90s rock bands like Man...or Astro-man? and Lookout! Records pop punk stalwarts Groovie Ghoulies and Mr. T Experience.

Even better, DJ's B's scientist grandpa will be pleased that she's listening to music that features a Thomas Edison shout out.