Breakfast is the time to brainwash your children...

Hey folks! Today it’s my absolute pleasure to introduce the creative and quirky Lloyd Miller; front man of the The Deedle Deedle Dees, an educational rock band from Brooklyn, NY. Their new CD, Strange Dees, Indeed is making several “Best of 2011” lists, and is one of my personal favourites from the year-gone-by. It was recently reviewed here. Thanks Lloyd… take it away!

Musical Influences of Lloyd Miller from The Deedle Deedle Dees

In our house, the right music makes the difference between a really bad morning and one that’s sort of tolerable. Responding to cereal demands (my son, for example, always wants a blend of two different kinds — say Gorilla Munch and Puffins — and it has to be in the Buzz Lightyear bowl), making lunches, getting my kids to sit on the toilet before school (why are they so resistant to this?) and the many other necessary morning parent tasks are hard enough without having to listen to music that’s not awesome.

My kids (ages 3 and 6) naturally have different definitions of what “awesome” means so I’m always trying to figure out ways to trick them into listening to the music I think we should be enjoying as a family. Later in the day this is nearly impossible because they’re tired / wired after school and full of ideas about which tunes will constitute the best dance party for them and their friends (Unfortunately a recent trip to a “hip hop” birthday at a local dance studio has my kids asking / ordering me to play lots of Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga.) In the morning, though, my little ones are usually groggy enough at the breakfast table to be willing to accept nearly any playlist I design — and this is when (I delude myself) that I present my most brilliant lessons in music appreciation and expose my children to the best tunes this planet has to offer.

I’d like to share some of our family breakfast table favorites with you. The list is long, longer than any reasonable person would want to read, so I’m going to tease with five songs related to Strange Dees, Indeed, the album my band the Deedle Deedle Dees recently released. Related how? Well, I guess you could say these songs helped inspire our compositions and the wide range of styles (Bollywood, klezmer, swing, hip hop) that they attempt, imitate, butcher, and stumble through. My kids actually do like all the songs on this list. I’ve observed them dancing, drumming along, chewing contentedly as these songs play. I’ve seen their eyes open wide and ask “What’s this music?” But however your kids react to this music (should you choose to try out some of it out on your own family) I guarantee you these tunes will help you, dad / mom / parent, siphon off a little bit of those “where’s the ice pack for my daughter’s lunch box?!” blues. Or don’t you get those?

Note: All the “recommended if you like” notes below refer to songs on Strange Dees, Indeed.

The Deedle Deedle Dees

“Old Brooklyn” – Andy Statman

Andy plays both the mandolin and the clarinet at the highest level of virtuosity. This is the opening track from his category-defying new album of the same name, a song that just destroys everything in its path including everything I thought I knew about Andy Statman, a guy who’s always categorized as a “klezmer” or “bluegrass” performer but who actually doesn’t fit neatly into either category. Expect kid gasps when the Stat starts his mando solo.

*Recommended if you like “The Golem”

 “1…2…3…Baby” – Asha Bhosle & Mahendra Kapoor

Do your kids love Bollywood music? Well, why not? Haven’t you been blasting it in your house throughout their young lives? If the answer is no, please put this track on repeat and then gradually work up to a full-on family dance party complete with leaps off the couch (onto pillows, of course), somersaults (away from the china cabinet), sword fights (with Nerf products), and overwrought hands-to-the-heart emoting.

*Recommended if you like “Ah Ahimsa”

“Bourbon Street Parade” by Red Hook Ramblers

Kids respond to the music of 1920s and 30s New Orleans in immediate physical ways. I used to play this music in my toddler music and movement classes and, man, those kids would jerk their heads to attention and start grooving. The Ramblers have the aforementioned Chris Johnson playing banjo and piano for them and although I’m very biased I can say without hesitation that they’re the very best band playing this kind of music today.

*Recommended if you like “Mayor LaGuardia’s Stomach”

“I’m Crazy ‘Bout My Baby (And My Baby’s Crazy ‘Bout Me)” – Fats Waller

If Fats Waller were alive today, I’m certain he would be conscripted as a guest star on “Yo Gabba Gabba.” There’d be a segment called “Freeze Dance with Fats” or something similar. People just get smiley when Fats is rocking our kitchen.

*Recommended if you like “Penny Farthing,” a song featuring the vocals of Chris Johnson AKA Booker Dee, a man deep in the spell of Mr. Waller

“Astronomy (8th Light)” –  Black Star

When my kids were babies, I used to have a big rap dance party almost every time my wife left the house. Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, DMX, Eminem — nothing was off limits because I figured: they can’t understand the lyrics, it won’t hurt, right? Once each child in turn began to imitate words and — soon after — entire sentences that they heard spoken around them I stopped these uncensored sessions and began to choose the hip hop I played for the whole family more carefully. Much of Black Star’s work is profanity free and full of poetic phrases (How can you go wrong with a group that references the Appalachian folk ballad “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair?) that you won’t mind your kids parroting back.

*Recommended if you like “Phineas Gage Has Something to Tell These People”

Sending a HUGE thanks to Lloyd for sharing some off his favourite tunes with us today. I’m off to snap up some albums from Red Hook Ramblers… *swoon*!

Note to Lloyd… we’d love to see you down under in Australia for a concert!  A 21 hour flight’s nothin’.. right?


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2 comments to Breakfast is the time to brainwash your children…

  • Glad to hear you liked our music! Speaking of Australia, we’re planning a tour in and around Melbourne in March 2012! Hope to see you there!

  • I love being turned onto things, bands, places I didn’t know about before! 🙂 I think your family breakfast table repertoire may soon become part of ours as well! <3

    P.S. My, those Deedle boys are CUTE!

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