Reviews of our first CD
Earthworm Ensemble is a quirky, humorous, unique collection of songs. Featuring some of Southern California’s best folk/country artists — I See Hawks, Mike Stinson, The Chapin Sisters, Zachariah, and Brantley Kearns — the musical styles of country, folk, Americana, rock, and New Orleans funk are skillfully featured on the album’s 11 original songs. With an earth-friendly theme (the CD is packaged in recycled cardboard and recyclable plastic), the songs take listeners on an educational journey about the wonders of the earth, which happen to include pizza. There is a song about the earthworm’s role in the plant cycle (“That’s What The Earthworm’s For”), buffalo migration, (“Little Willie Buffalo”), and about how to make pizza from scratch (“Pizza Moon”). The two lullabies, “We Are Birds” and “Goodnight, Little Spaceship,” tug your heartstrings, but are not sentimental. Playful, imaginative and refreshing.
— Charlotte Bohn ©2010 Parents’ Choice
Children’s Music That Isn’t So… Childish
By Curtis Silver February 17, 2010
Earthworm Ensemble toes the line between traditional children’s music with all the simplicities and rhymes that define that genre. What I found most interesting about the band however, was that the other side of that line is a folk band full of depth. They run the gambit of bluegrass, folk and some new age elements while reinforcing a very eco-friendly message. The eco-friendly message is very indirect in some parts, but quite clear in other parts such as the song “Bear and Dog” where they exclaim “we’ve come to help you save your little planet… we’re going to clean this planet up!” I especially like the old timey feel to some of the tracks, similar to the songs on the soundtrack from O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The band is a combination of several California artists, including I See Hawks In L.A., The Chapin Sisters and Mike Stinson. Even the Discovery Science Channel host and country rapper Zachariah shows up rapping about making a “Pizza Moon.” The song composition is heartfelt and earthy. Each track feels like the musicians put a great deal of effort and thought into the project, which is probably true since the project started out as a collection of songs for their own children. If you like folk music with a positive message and that doesn’t sound like a dysfunctional clown with a studio backing band, then you and your kids should enjoy this album. Go pick it up on Amazon.com.
By John Payne
All you new moms and pops out there trying to keep up with the latest and most infotational “music for kids” are no doubt discovering that there’s a problem, namely that said namby-pamby nursery noise just makes you want to barf. But here now is a welcome exception whose humor, intelligence and really ace musicianship mean you ain’t gotta have a rug rat to appreciate it: presenting Earthworm Ensemble, a sterling bunch of real rock & roots musicians such as country renegades I See Hawks In L.A., the Chapin Sisters, progressive C&W boys Mike Stinson, Brantley Kearns and David Jackson, and, dig it, Sly Stone bassist Jimi Hawes. Their eponymous CD features these great players and their kidz singing their li’l hearts out in imaginatively arranged tunes dealing with good stuff about taking care of the planet and being nice and fair to other people, and there’s no skimping on tunes about train riding or the timeless joy of pizza. Bring the babies and dig on in.
(Score: 4 1/2 out of 5)
http://www.toyportfolio.com/SingleProduct.php?ProductID=5881 Just in time for Earth Day, this CD has an entirely fresh sound that ranges from wistful to witty and all together pleasing. The album combines a rich potpourri of styles played on mandolin, rocking guitars, fiddles, steel guitar, accordion, sax, bass and drum grooves along with outstanding vocal harmonies. Musicians from the well-known band, I See Hawk in L.A. along with talented vocalists such as two Chapin sisters (Tom’s daughters), bluegrass singer, Christina Ortega and country rapper Zachariah, among others. You will love the sound effects on the Traveling Train, the deep down humor of That’s What the Earthworm’s For and Bang a Drum is sure to make a hit in all senses of the words. This is one for the whole family.
ARTIST: Earthworm Ensemble TITLE: I See Earthworms in L.A.
By Joel Okida
In the category of children’s music, dozens of musicians have made their entire careers writing and performing music exclusively for tykes and pre-teens. A handful of acoustic musicians who usually write sensitive adult songs will occasionally make the foray into a children’s album as their own offspring or those near to them can often be the catalysts for creating kid choruses. Some well-known performers have crossed-over for a stab at creating a songbook of tunes palatable to the little ones. Leadbelly, Johnny Cash, and David Grisman are just a few that come to mind. And a few years ago, even the alt-country guys and gals took some time away from songs of dark love, dark roads, the dark before light, and whiskey, and contributed some bouncy rhymes to The Bottle Let Me Down: Songs for Bumpy Wagon Rides. When Rosie Flores, Kay Lenz, Alejandro Excovedo, and the Handsome Family, amongst others, toss their shovels in, you know there’s a chance something good will happen on that side of the sandbox.
With this in mind, the rootsy Earthworm Ensemble has arrived with a fertile musical offering friendly for children and parents alike. Comprised of well-regarded Americana music seers and shamans, I See Hawks in L.A., members of their families and musical friends, it is freshly produced by Hawks Shawn Nourse and Paul Lacques. The original seed germinated from Hawks drummer Nourse and wife, Sherri, composing a few songs for their son, Nolan, and the concept grew to include Lacques and wife, Victoria Jacobs. Eventually, other band members and friends joined in. In addition, local harmonizers, The Chapin Sisters, provide supple vocal accompaniment on three tracks. Zachariah, the Discovery Science Channel host, and local roots music songbird, Christina Ortega, pop in for vocal support on a number, too. As one would expect, the lean is mostly toward the country sound and the rural twang, but there are lullabies and nursery rhymes and even a beat heavy rap recipe song in Pizza Moon, tossed into the mix.
Keep in mind that a children’s album is really for the entire family because you, your aunt, and your neighbors will be listening or singing along with the kids to these tunes. So to make it even more palatable for the adult, there is a strong showing of deft musicianship provided by the ensemble. That being said, some songs are produced folksy enough to play along with your ukulele, jaw harp (see Corn) and whatever kitchen percussion is handy, in addition to the obvious sing-along aspect. Of course, the appeal here is that when songs are simple and direct, you and child get the gist of the tune right off the bat and it becomes familiar in no time. That’s probably missing from a lot of adult songwriting today so maybe family music is the direction of where music should circle back to or be rediscovered. Not my call on that.
After a test listen in front of Josh and William, a couple of local under-5 year old music “experts,” the opening song, The Traveling Train, got a rousing thumbs up or maybe toes up, for inducing spontaneous wiggle-mania (the earth squirm?). Train songs aren’t just for box car jumping troubadours and Johnny Cash, y’know. Fiddler Brantley Kearns and David Jackson on bass exchange high and low note vocals on this catchy tune. Bear & Dog, offers the chorus, “We are Bear & Dog” with positive propagation of saving the planet and engendering images of animal trust and bonding. Some psychedelic super-powers are thrown in for good measure.
Other songs like, That’s What the Earthworm’s For, Sherri Nourse’s and Victoria Jacobs’ lovely, We Are Birds, and Little Willie Buffalo underscore the use of animal kingdom imagery while giving them purposeful identity. Musically, these songs graze in different patches of the musical prairie. The first is sung in nursery rhyme format, the second as a lullaby, and the third in a near N. Orleans piano rag a la Professor Longhair. The aforementioned The Traveling Train and the bouncy Corn also give fruits and vegetables their due. So that kind of diet propaganda should make parents very happy!
This album provides a song or two for kids who may still be doing the “crawl” to those who might already be volunteer sou chefs in the kitchen. It’s about singing what we see around us when we step outside the door, observe what’s close to home, and what we might see if we jumped on a train or a spaceship or just walked. It’s about a cup of imagination and a teaspoon of optimism for the young-uns who might need this more than ever nowadays, before they grow up too fast and become bored IT consultants. Not too many mamas have to worry about their babies becoming cowboys anymore. But, just in case, like the title of another track on the recording, there’s some assurance here that Mama Loves You, no matter how you grow up.
I See Hawks and Earthworms
By RON JACOBS
Earthworm Ensemble is a hip children’s CD featuring rock and roots artists I See Hawks In LA, The Chaplin Sisters, Mike Stinson, David Jackson, Brantley Kearns and Sly Stone bassist Jimi Hawes. The CD features the musicians and some of their children singing clever lyrics urging young and old listeners to think about their place on the planet and how they can insure its survival. There are also just plain fun songs. The cycle of sun, rain, earthworm, soil and plant is the theme of “That’s What the Earthworm’s For,” while the song “Pizza Moon” is a humorous ditty about a dad making pizza with his kids while mom is away.
As any adult who listens to children’s music knows, it is always a bonus if the music can entertain adults, too. This is true because it is almost a guarantee that any adult who lives with children will be listening to their music. One such album that comes to my mind is the 1993 release by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman titled Not For Kids Only. Musically, every song on this disc does that. This is not necessarily the case lyrically. However, the tune “Walking Boy” stands out as a song that could easily make it into an adult’s play list. But, then, this is a CD for children.
The musicians here are masters of their craft. Seasoned performers and songwriters all, they utilize a myriad of genres in this catchy collection. Country-rock a la the Byrds to jaunty hip-hop; folly styling to rock and roll. Like their parent group I See Hawks In LA, the Earthworm Ensemble project describes joyfulness. When the kids aren’t singing along, you can be sure they’ll be dancing.
Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: email@example.com
AOL Parent Dish
The debut CD from this L.A. group starts off with “The Traveling Train,” a fun, twangy number that sounds like relatively traditional Americana. But that track is followed up by the decidedly experimental “Bear and Dog,” which sounds like the musical love child of Beck and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Then you also get some alt-country, a couple of ethereal ballads, and even a rap. And it all sounds great.
The Earthworm Ensemble has a wonderfully classic country-sounding song about trains on their new CD, Earthworm Ensemble. With banjos and jawharps and deep voices, The Traveling Train is a great song about a train carrying a variety of fruits and passing all sorts of sights.
Perfect for spring, “Earthworm Ensemble” from Western Seed Records ($14) is a huge bevy of folksy, talented musicians and singers celebrating the earth with songs named “Corn,” “Little Willie Buffalo,” “Pizza Moon” and more. The tunes are satisfyingly sweet and fun, which is great for sunny day activities.
Are worms the new penguins? If these new music releases are any indication, maybe. The self-titled CD from Los Angeles mega-group Earthworm Ensemble—22 people are listed in the album credits—presents families with a plucky alt-Americana listening experience that occasionally veers off into psychedelia. The vibe is much more La. (as in Louisiana) than L.A., as the majority of the songs could be lost tracks from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. But there’s a good deal of urban funk, too—including a street-legit rap on “Pizza Moon.” It’s an adventurous, and ultimately successful, musical experiment.
Earthworm Ensemble & friends wrap an eco-conscious message, and silly fun, inside their kid-friendly music
Plenty of parents make up silly songs for their children. Few record them for anything more than home movies. But when you’re a musician with a studio … and your wife’s singing to your toddler, who’s fascinated by artists recording with Dad … it’s only natural to turn those homespun tunes into something more permanent. Hello, Earthworm Ensemble.
Earthworm Ensemble is the brainchild of I See Hawks in LA drummer Shawn Nourse, his wife Sherri, Hawks guitarist Paul Lacques and his wife Victoria Jacobs. As Nourse recalls, he was sufficiently charmed by songs Sherri was making up for their son Nolan to want to “put the ideas down, recording-wise.” As fate would have it, Lacques and Victoria were also writing children’s material. In short order an album — and an environmental theme — emerged. Hawks bandmates, the Chapin Sisters, Christina Ortega, Mike Stinson and freestyle rapper Zachariah, among others, contributed to the final recording.
“We like to play music around the house that’s not necessarily children’s music … more along the lines of classic rock and classic country,” Nourse says. “[Nolan’s] kind of following our path. I thought there was kind of a void for family music that isn’t goofy or dumbed down that can drive everybody up the wall.”
Refreshingly, Earthworm Ensemble’s lighthearted CD is neither goofy nor dumbed down. Songs like “That’s What the Earthworm’s For,” the bluegrass-flavored “The Traveling Train” and “Pizza Moon,” which quotes Lynyrd Skynyrd and features a dazzling rap from Zachariah, are a far cry from “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
“Children are born with very sophisticated ears,” Lacques says, “and their learning curve from infancy through 10 years old is astonishing. You could play them Stravinsky or Gram Parsons or the Beatles or Schoenberg, and if that’s what they’re listening to, by age 4 … that’s going to be children’s music for them.” He says there’s little difference between writing music for kids and I See Hawks in LA.
“We wrote the songs and arranged them [like] an I See Hawks in LA record. I think they sound almost the same, sonically. Lyrically, you take a different approach. Three-year-olds have a limited life experience, so you try to remember — or if you have kids, you observe — what they see, what’s going to make sense to them. Life’s difficult enough, so you want to make the lyrics fun.
“It’s kind of liberating. It’s just really fun to write about earthworms and making pizza. If you’re playing the Wiltern for adults, they’re not really going to want to hear about earthworms [laughs]. And earthworms are important. No earthworms, no humans; it’s a pretty simple relationship. Doing children’s lyrics, you have the opportunity to express that in a really simple, basic way.”
Earthworm Ensemble and friends give a matinee performance at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Echo, 1822 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; $8. Info: (213) 413-8200. earthwormensemble.com
2010 PARENTS CHOICE SILVER MEDAL AWARD
Earthworm Ensemble is folk-country-rock children’s music designed for the whole family. This album features artists including I See Hawks In L.A., The Chapin Sisters and Mike Stinson, along with Southern California roots musicians David Jackson and Brantley Kearns, who have worked with John Denver, Dwight Yoakam and Emmylou Harris. The lyrics are fun, subtly informative and timely, reflecting eco themes and a return to do-it-yourself values. There are songs about trains, birds, buffalo migration, the earthworm’s role in the earth’s life cycle, an eco superhero bear and dog team, and a spaghetti western ballad about the magic of walking in the woods. A sweet lullaby about flying through space closes out the CD.
Earthworm Ensemble ($15.99)- Earthworm Ensemble is a brand new family music project featuring members of I See Hawks in L.A. and many more of the best contemporary folk/country artists working in Southern California today. The CD features 11 witty eco-friendly songs that my grow-your-own-produce Audobon camp loving self just loves. Little Miss Techie and Captain Computer love listening to songs about the earthworm’s role in the plant cycle, buying fresh corn at the farmer’s market and taking it home to cook, making pizza from scratch, and walking in the woods because of the wonderful vocals because the songs combine different styles of music from country rock, old timey beats, New Orleans funk, folk, and classic Americana.
Yes, I did get a chance to listen to the Earthworm Ensemble album and it’s very unique. I enjoyed many of the tracks, however my favorites are Walking Boy, Little Willie Buffalo, We Are Birds, Pizza Moon and That’s What The Earthworm’s For. Expect to hear one of these tracks on tomorrow’s show – most likely Walking Boy or Pizza Moon (fun tune).
–Jacie & Kym
On April 22nd we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Why not kick up the celebration a notch with some fun movin’ and groovin’ songs from Earthworm Ensemble? The group’s self-titled CD offers families a wonderfully varied range of musical styles from country to New Orleans funk and features a “who’s who” of California artists.
But before becoming a collection of child- and family-friendly songs, the idea for Earthworm Ensemble came from Shawn and Sherri Nourse. The couple recorded a few songs they’d created for their son Nolan, and those tunes inspired the rest of the earth-worthy songs you’ll find on the CD:
We’re calling it family music, rather than just children’s music. We hope children and their parents can enjoy the songs together, and talk about some of the ideas in the songs. We sing about the earthworm’s role in the plant cycle; about buffalo migration as told by a young buffalo; buying fresh corn at the farmer’s market and taking it home to cook; how to make pizza from scratch; trains, birds, walking in the woods, and a superhero team of Bear and Dog who’ve come to save the planet!
What child wouldn’t want to hear a song all about brave animal superheroes or a lullabye sung to a spaceship (an out-of-this-world lullabye, if you ask me)? You can even listen to a sampling of songs on their website.
On most children’s CDs you find a song or two (or three) you can easily skip, but Earthworm Ensemble had me listening to each and every one from start to finish. Even ones that were a little slow (“Walking Boy”) had story-like lyrics that kept my attention for the entire song. My faves from the collection are “Bear and Dog” (perhaps because the music reminds me of an R.E.M. song), “Corn” (love a good country song); “We Are Birds” (soothing and enchanting).
Our family doesn’t do much to celebrate Earth Day but this year I’m going to make sure my kids gain greater appreciation for varying music styles while gaining greater appreciation for the earth by listening to Earthworm Ensemble. They’re already fans of Diary of a Worm; becoming fans of Earthworm Ensemble isn’t too far behind!
THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2010
We love reviewing music on this blogspot. Our family loves to introduce our kids to different sounds, rhythms and types of music. Almost everything is welcome in our house! So we always get excited when a new cd arrives in the mail!Yesterday, when I went to the mailbox, I was excited to bring in a new CD (sent to us free of charge from Sugar Mountain PR) for us to review.
Earthworm Ensemble is a group that introduces all sorts of musical styles into one incredible CD. It includes 11 original songs that give you child the chance to have fun, dance, enjoy the beat and use their creativity all at the same time. As you’ll see…my two younger children absolutely enjoyed it!
Their favorite song on the CD was “Pizza Moon.” They liked the beat, they love pizza and they loved the words to the song. Check it out (CLICK ON THE LINK TO SEE VIDEOS, CUTE!):
But truthfully, they were pretty excited about all the songs on this CD. Each one was very different, but very exciting to them as well. With names like “Band A Drum,” “Mama Loves You,” and “Little Willie Buffalo,” you can imagine that these songs are made to keep a child entertained and their little ears pleased!
If you’re looking for a CD that offers your child the experience of listening to several different forms of music all wrapped up into one, then I suggest you check out Earthworm Ensemble. I think you might be pleased with what you find. We were and I have a feeling this will be a CD played over and over again in our house and probably even in the car, because they liked it so much!
I’ve come across two CDs from musicians who usually perform for adults, but have recently turned their collective talent toward the music for the younger set. Using distinct voices, a whole slew of instruments and music grounded in folk, country and Americana styles, I can only hope Rani Arbo and Earthworm Ensemble decide to put out more music for kids in the future.
Earthworm Ensemble has taken a detour from their alt-Americana band alter egos, I See Hawks in LA, to put out this self-titled CD.This collaborative effort presents the world from a kid’s point of view, but after listening to the range of music that goes from country twang to gentle lullaby, I like the view they’re showing too.
It starts off with a chugging The Traveling Train anchored by the baritone of David Jackson who has one of those how-long-can-you-go voices. The rest of the CD takes a journey that enlightens as well as entertains, as in the gentle folk harmonies of That’s What the Earthworm’s For. Even Jamie Oliver would approve of the adorably infectious father-son cooking rap Pizza Moon—which does not involve calling for take out.
Give it up for Earthworm Ensemble. Started by Sherri and Shawn Nourse (with their 3-year-old son, Nolan), the experimental project joins the city’s top country, rock, and folk musicians in what feels like one big Topanga Canyon family reunion.
You’ll dig the self-titled debut album’s nature-inspired lyrics about woodland walks and buffalo migrations. Just try not to sing along with “Bear and Dog,” a kooky rock anthem about two furry animals coming to save our planet. The entire smorgasbord of musical styles ranges from Americana to rap.
Making this one can of worms you won’t mind opening.
We’ve been diggin’ the folksy, rockin’ kids’ band Earthworm Ensemble’s newest self-titled release for over a month now, in rotation on the play room beat box. The vocal harmonies of this blended group of California folk artists is lovely. Founders Shawn and Sherri Nourse originally put these songs together to amuse their young son (who also sings on the album). I like how casual this recording is–like a bunch of friends hanging out and making music together.
The Traveling Train is a favorite song on the album (so obvious for my son, since well, it’s about a train), with its chugging beats and the funny deep baritone voice that moves in and out of the track. SoJo and I bop around the room dancing to it. The lyrics of the 11 songs are appealing too, lfrom topics like the role of the earthworm in the life cycle to buying food at the farmer’s market. Earthworm Ensemble is worth adding to your kids’ and non-kids’ music collection. Definitely not anything like those irritating Wiggles.
Music is a big part of my life and a big deal in our family. My hubby and I pride ourselves on giving our children a really diverse taste in music, much as we have such diverse tastes. I always love an opportunity to expose my kids to even more music styles and new music. I like music that is directed at the kids and very “kid friendly” but, let’s face it, sometimes what is “kid friendly” isn’t exactly “adult friendly!”
I was ecstatic when I listened to Earthworm Ensemble. This CD that comes out on 2/16/10 is a refreshing and eclectic blend of everything from folk to New Orleans funk. The entire album is catchy and fun. My kids love it and, luckily, I do too!
Earthworm Ensemble is a new group which includes members of the acclaimed Los Angeles alt-American band I See Hawks in L.A. The disc has 11 original songs that will all become instant favorites. I love how they get my kids up and excited. “Bang a drum” invokes instant pleasure and craziness ensues every time we listen to it. It’s obvious by all the unique and fun songs on this album that the amazing talents behind it’s creation definitely had children and parents both in mind.
Earthworm Ensemble has happily become a staple in our cd library. And we are all happy about that!
BY KEVIN OLIVER
AUGUSTA, GA – This new group is a Who’s Who of southern California roots rock and folk, including members from the band I See Hawks in L.A., the Chapin Sisters and featuring appearances from Mike Stinson, Brantley Kearns and more.
Who they are isn’t as important as what they’ve created, which in this case is a family-friendly hootenanny of hip, silly folk and rock tunes that ought to resonate with fans of Brady Rymer, Dan Zanes and Lunch Money.
Shawn and Sherri Nourse started this group accidentally when they decided to record a few songs they’d written for their son Nolan (who appears on the album). Their many musical friends got wind of the idea and soon they had enough songs for a full-length release.
For a mostly unintentional genesis, the songs are universally enjoyable and mostly ridiculous, as on the quirky “Pizza Moon” and the old-time sounds of “Traveling Train” and “Walking Boy.” With the collaborative nature of the proceedings, there is a variety of vocals that many solo acts can’t match. David Jackson’s deep, deep voice on “Little Willie Buffalo,” for example, is so low it will elicit amazement from children and parents alike.
And about that name? The packaging and conceptual artwork are Earth-friendly and made of recycled materials. Earthworms are nature’s best recycler, after all.
“Earthworm Ensemble is not just a great kids‘ music album, but a great album period!”
— Dan Perloff, Minivan Productions, McCabes Concerts
Earthworm Ensemble is a folksy children’s album with a country feel, created by a team of accomplished, California-based musicians.
I debuted my review copy in my 3K class this week and was pleased to have a fresh album with unique tracks unlike any of the other CD’s in our classroom collection. The styles and themes of each track are diverse, which makes for a fun listening experience for the children as well as for myself.
The Traveling Train is one of my favorite tracks because of the strong rhythm, the amazingly deep bass singer, and the ever popular theme! That’s What The Earthworm’s For is a catchy song that sticks in my head like velcro. You will be humming this one… Bang A Drum is kind of like musical beatnik poetry; I put it on for my students to do interpretive movement. We Are Birds is like one of those relaxing nature CD’s, not unlike the soundtrack in the spa where I go for massage. (I’m surrounded by preschoolers more than 12 hours a day. I need massages.)
Mama Loves You is absolutely adorable, making me wish I had a baby to rock to sleep while singing these sweet lyrics. Not that both of my babies were good sleepers or anything…
I’m enjoying watching my 3K students groove to Earthworm Ensemble!
If you want an album that spans across the musical tastes and genres of our entire nation, then Earthworm Ensemble’s debut CD is meant for you!
Earthworm Ensemble is a fresh, new group which includes members of the acclaimed Los Angeles alt-Americana band I See Hawks in L.A. This CD also hails more notable musical figureheads such as Mike Stinson, The Chapin Sisters, Zachariah, and Brantley Kearns.
About as many instruments grab some limelight on this album, as well: Steel guitars, mandolins, drums, horns, and more! Every single song is different and unique. You’ll jump from a strumming guitar ballad (folk style, almost lullaby-like) to a rap song about making pizza (”Pizza Moon”)….then jump next to a bluegrass tune about a buffalo, showcasing a very deep-throated singer (David Jackson). This is a CD of many moods, many styles….and they’re all performed exceedingly well.
The 11 songs on this family-collaborated album are all terrific….and we’ve been toting this CD around the house with us, as well as into the car.
Earthworm Ensemble is a spin-off of alt-Americana band I See Hawks in L.A. Their self-titled album, released last February, mostly follows the folk, rock and fiddle sound of their adult tunes with some New Orleans funk, hip-hip and lo-fi rock mixed in. Earthworm Ensemble’s original songs have a subtle “green” focus, exploring a child’s viewpoint of nature and the universe while mixing in messages about topics like healthy eating.
My Take: Earthworm Ensemble is another distinctive effort, with artists who create something completely different for kids. The songs are each unique pictures, bringing life to gems like American-style story song “Traveling Train,” bluegrass science lesson “That’s What the Earthworms For,” and the jugband-style celebration of “Corn.” It’s hard to not love an effort like this, full of original and engaging songs with positive messages, imaginative musicians and some stylistic-shifts sure to please differing tastes.
Earthworm Ensemble – OUT WITH THE KIDS CD Review
The Sound: Whole grain family music from a Polyphonic Spree-esque L.A. collective.
In the Cafeteria, They Sit With: Dreyer Family Band, The Harmonica Pocket
Best Moments: “The Traveling Train,” the self-titled album’s lead track, oozes with the spirit of the wild west. You can almost see the wild buffalo roaming under the hot sun while fields of wheat wave hello in the wind, and smell the fresh fruits and vegetables the train is transporting over great distances. “Bear and Dog” is a tad hokey – imagine superheroic animals descending to Earth with a plan for saving our planet – but the hypnotic cadence in the repetition of “We are Bear and Dog” proves to be fairly soothing, meditative even. It also lends itself to be altered into “We are Bear and Mouse,” an instant theme song for my own dynamic duo.
Earthworm Ensemble hail from Los Angeles, but channel another L.A. on “Little Willie Buffalo,” a piano/horn heavy number I’d half-expect to hear pouring out of a New Orleans parlor window. As a rule, a novelty hip-hop detour spells serious trouble for any band, let alone a crunchy one such as Earthworm Ensemble, but “Pizza Moon” with its narrative of a father and son fending for themselves in the kitchen, is surprising cool in a Secret Agent 23 Skidoo sorta way.
Finally, songwriter Mike Stinson chips in with “Corn”, a love song to the best tasting veggie at the farmer’s market. I’m kinda famous ’round these parts for my own song about corn, but Stinson’s honky tonk number takes the cake, and the cob.
Bonus Thoughts: Listen to much of the album, including “The Traveling Train”, “Corn” and “Pizza Moon”, on the Earthworm Ensemble MySpace page.
Okay, Time to Wrap it Up with a Nice Little Bow: The self-titled debut from Earthworm Ensemble is cornucopia of musical goodness, rooted in rootsy rhythms and old timey-Americana folk. It’s a wonderful example of true family music, recommended for anyone who digs a little fiddle and mandolin play with their melodic kiddie rock.
Dr. Dolly writes about experiences and insights regarding natural health, and eco-savvy, wholesome parenting. Her handsome husband Steve and adventurous toddler Calvin love to explore the beautiful Virginia Blue Ridge with her.
Wholesome fun with delightful lyrics and earthy vocals make Earthworm Ensemble a musical treat. There’s so many musical artists that collaborated on this So-Cal folksy-country-rock-rappin’ project that I’ll refer you to earthwormensemble.com for the full list.
The album roars to a start with “The Traveling Train” that choo-choos by with the most delicious cargo before winding down to a full-stop. The Pizza Moon is a recipe rap about a dad cooking up a pizza for the kids while mom is out with friends at a Dave Matthews concert–totally creative and fun.
Our family had a living room hoe down from tracks 5 (Bang a Drum) to 9 (Walking Boy). Our family do-si-doed and circled around and back again. During track 7 (We are Birds), Calvin spontaneously started flapping his arms like a bird (and I followed his lead) and he sang along. Instead of indoor soccer, I think dancing along to Earthworm Ensemble will be our new indoor evening family activity.
Truly, this green-a-licious album will have you licking your chops, stomping to the licks of your imaginary drum, and urge you to impulsively plant an organic garden.
Calvin’s favorite track: #1 The Traveling Train Dr. Dolly’s Favorite Track: #8 Mama Loves You
This is a very cute earth friendly CD. I like the message: environment friendly…my 4 year old and I had several discussions about cleaning up the earth and nature in general thanks to this CD. We also loved the funky beats found on a lot of these songs! Our favorites: The Traveling Train, the 2 year old LOVED Bear and Dog, I adored Mama Loves You and Little Willie Buffalo.
Los Angeles Earthworm Ensemble: Digging up some fun family music
Some of the best folk/country music artists in the Los Angeles area have combined their creative and performance talents, launching a new eco-friendly, family music group and album known as Earthworm Ensemble.
Earthworm Ensemble is music that can be shared between a parent and child, and brings together talented voices, smooth instrumental work, diverse genres from folk, rock, country and rap in a clear, crisp, and well mastered, 11-tracks CD, filled with positive messages about the environment. Songs about earthworms, buffalo, and birds are part of some of the eco-friendly lyrics that are performed by such well-known artists as: members from I See Hawks In L.A.; Mike Stinson; The Chapin Sisters; Zachariah and Brantley Kearns, to name a few.
Highlights from the album include The Traveling Train – a catchy rhythmic/vocal piece ala “Orange Blossom Special” that captures a child’s fascination with trains – where they go and what they carry. It will have you and your child singing with a bit of “chugga-chugga” alongside the lyrics. That’s What the Earthworm’s For – a delightful musical lesson about earthworms, rain, sun, and stars.
Bear and Dog – a song that will stay in your head about an unlikely pairing of ecological super-heroes. Pizza Moon – A fun and witty rap rendition that guarantees kids and parents will dance while preparing the family “za.” Bang a Drum– a unique capture of basic rhythmic instincts through percussion variations. Corn – is a classic country/western song that praises the goodness of this vegetable.
We Are Birds –– a gentle piece filled with dreamy harmonics and birdsong. Mama Loves You-– an absolutely charming song about unconditional love.
Lyrics for all the songs are available on the Earthworm Ensemble website, and most appropriately, the CD is packaged in earth-friendly, recycled cardboard and plastic.
— Paula Slade
” . . . the sort of raw, homespun feel that’s been all too absent from kids’ music since Garcia and Grisman were in the studio recording Not for Kids Only. And for families interested in teaching their children about things like composting and gardening, it’s hard to argue with tracks like ‘That’s What the Earthworm’s For’ and ‘Corn.’ Children’s records don’t get much timelier, or more well-meaning, than this.”
— Jeff Giles