Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Nature Jams

Nature Jams

Spring 2012 Music
Ages: 3 & Up
Producer: myKaZoo Music
CD Price: $15.00

Parents may know Jason Ringenberg as the "cowpunk" pioneer and front man of the legendary Jason & The Scorchers. Here, in his alter ego as Farmer Jason, he calls upon some of his more famous friends to lend a hand on his third children's music album. Thematically, the sentiments are good, as Farmer Jason (a sort of rockin' Mr. Greenjeans in overalls and straw hat) reminds kids of the joys of being outside.

Banjo virtuoso Alison Brown joins him on his celebration of river boating in "Can You Canoe," while Mike Mills of REM tells him to "Take a Hike." Ireland's the Saw Doctors join him in a rowdy leviathan lesson on "Well Oh Whale." Later on, country singer Suzy Bogguss joins him in a lesson about wildlife in the city for "Meadowlark in Central Park." The music moves to Louisiana where accordionist Terrance Simien sings a "Bayou Boogie." Folk songstress Iris Dement joins Farmer Jason for an entertaining, twangy set of "Prairie Riddles," while singer, songwriter, guitarist and actor Webb Wilder gives a rhyming explanation of the non-difference between " Buffalo or Bison." Steve Gorman of the Black Crowes then joins Wilder and Farmer Jason for the song "Dison The Bison."

Tom Petersson, bassist for the rock band Cheap Trick, teams up with Farmer Jason for a lesson in caving called "Spelunker." Elsewhere, Farmer Jason's "identical twin" Jason Ringenberg and his band The Scorchers do a "really cool" song about "The Glacier." Bizarre collaborations abound, as Hank Williams III and Tommy Ramone sing a song about a "Manatee." On what is, perhaps, the album's best track, master bassist Victor Wooton of the Flecktones celebrates the joys of nature in the slinky and beautifully crafted "No Place Like The Woods."

The album finishes up with a few further treats, including folksinger Todd Snider's typically quirky "The Moose Live Where," and alt-country singer Brandi Carlisle's celebration of being mindful of nature in "Have You Ever." The whole party comes to a close with Ringenberg, his daughters and Nashville songbird Kristi Rose singing a marching-style tune about "Skating Along."

For extra value, there is a bonus DVD with videos for four of the album's songs. The set comes with a fully annotated and nicely illustrated booklet, and selected lyrics can be found on Farmer Jason's website.

Lahri Bond   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Lahri Bond is a father, a writer, music historian and an art professor in Western Massachusetts. His published books include Spinning Tales Weaving Hope (with the Stories For World Change Network) for New Society Press and People of the Earth (coauthored with Ellen Evert Hopman) for Destiny Books.

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