The 50 Artist Interviews
Uno Dos Tres Andrés is the Latin Grammy-winning team husband-wife team of Andrés Salguero and Christina Sanabria. The duo have performed for audiences across the US and in Puerto Rico, Panama, Mexico and Colombia. Their catchy songs and lively concerts get the whole family dancing and learning, in Spanish and English. They have released three bilingual children’s books published by Scholastic, seven albums for kids, including the most recent Grammy-Nominated Activate.
Grammy award winning children’s performer Dan Zanes and Haitian-American music therapist / jazz vocalist Claudia Zanes have been making music with each other since the day they met in the fall of 2016. In late 2019 the couple – now married! – moved from Brooklyn to Baltimore and what had been a full schedule of theater, school, and festival performances evaporated with the advent of the coronavirus. When a national state of emergency was declared in March, Dan and Claudia started their Social Isolation Song Series. We sat down to talk about the couple’s latest release Let Love Be Your Guide on the Smithsonian Folkways label.
Author and composer Michael Hearst talks about his latest release Songs For Unconventional Vehicles, a collection of miniature songs about some of the strangest cars, trains, planes, submersibles, dirigibles, rockets and more. Released as a companion to Hearst’s children’s book, Unconventional Vehicles, this full-length album features such vehicles as underwater battery-powered scooters, solar-powered race cars, pizza delivery drones, and more. Lisa was Zooming with Michael, who was outside on a lovely summer morning, joined by birds providing some background singing to the conversation.
Lisa zoomed with Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent of Shovels & Rope. The Charleston, SC-based couple released Busted Juicebox – part of their cover song series of Busted Jukebox albums, featuring their favorite cover songs and special guests. This kid-friendly release is inspired by their young children, and they’ve teamed up with some wonderful musician parents on the songs, including Sharon Van Etten, War & Treaty, John Paul White, M Ward and more.
The Bright Siders are a musical collaboration between Nashville-based Americana songwriter Kristin Andreassen and Brooklyn-based child psychiatrist Kari Groff, MD. Together, they create music with the purpose of helping children connect to their emotions. Ten years in the making, their carefully crafted, star-studded debut album A Mind of Your Own was released on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. The album invites listeners to think deeply about empathy and self-compassion as they navigate the beauty and complexity of their emotional lives, and is chock full of wonderful artists including Ed Helms, The War & Treaty, Gaby Moreno, Punch Brothers, Joey Ryan (The Milk Carton Kids), Oh Pep!, Kaia Kater.
Lisa chats with Ashli St. Armant (aka Jazzy Ash) about Good Foot, a 6-song ep she’s just released, along with some of her other kid-friendly ventures, like her very successful Audible book releases and a new musical. Enjoy!
Lisa chats with Neil of Koo Koo Kanga Roo – a Minnepolis-based band and dance party comedy duo that kids, teachers, parents and pretty much everyone enjoys. The duo of Neil and Bryan have released eight albums and six EPs since 2009 and have over 160,000 YouTube subscribers and millions of views. Teachers count on their Brain Breaks during the school day to get kids moving and give everyone a fun reset. In response to the pandemic, they’ve recently released “Face Mask.”
Andy Ferguson of Red Yarn lives in Oregon with wife and singing partner Jessie Eller-Isaacs (an English teacher at Cleveland High School), two beautiful young children – Lewis and Mira, and a backyard full of critters and puppets! We zoomed about Backyard Bop, his brand new kindie release and his new youtube series Red Yard’s Backyard. Andy also does livestreams two or three times a week called Ramblin’ With Red Yarn. Intensely prolific and gosh darn likable, we chatted about his music, family, the pandemic and the fires brought on by the Climate Emergency.
Pierce Freelon is a hip hop/soul/electronic musician and Emmy-award winning producer, director and professor from Durham, NC. Pierce is a creative and very positive force and we chatted about D.a.d., his debut kindie release and his new animated series The History of White People in America, among other things. Enjoy!
Raffi has released 20 albums during his over 40 years of making music for kids. In 2020, he celebrated the 40th anniversary of his classic “Baby Beluga” song. Young at Heart plays mostly kindie music – newer bands with an indie music bent. But Raffi is indeed one of the pillars of children’s music and I was thrilled to learn of his positive activism through his Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring.
It was great to catch up with Walter Martin. We last spoke in 2017 when Young at Heart was just beginning, and his debut kindie release We’re All Young Together helped me believe my radio show for kids could be cool. Walter was bassist for the Walkmen and Jonathan Fire*Eater years ago, but nowadays he’s enjoying a thriving career as a solo artist.
Since our first interview, Walter has done commercial work, winning a Clio Silver Award for his ”Right On Tracks” Cherrios commercials, writing “Do-Dilly-Do A Friend Like You,” a song for the Golden Globe Award-winning animated film Missing Link, and even appearing in the Netflix movie “Between Two Ferns,” working with Matt Beringer on two songs for the movie, including the incredibly beautiful “Walking on a String.”
It was so great to have a visit from kindie and adult-rocker Josh Lovelace on Young at Heart! He’d just released Growing Up, his second album for kids and families. Josh says he became a musician because as he was growing up, he found comfort and inspiration from children’s music artists like Sharon, Louis and Bram. We talk about the early kindie inspiration and Josh’s music for families.
Red Yarn‘s release Old Barn made my Top Ten list of Best Kindie Releases of 2018 for good reason: Andrew Ferguson and his wife Miss Jessie make amazing kid-friendly folk rock. This Portland, Oregon duo have released five albums for kids, with live shows and videos enhanced by the fictional antics and personalities of the duo’s vast and ever-growing collection of puppets they affectionately call “The Critters.” I love Red Yarn’s music, and their videos should part of your YouTube playlist.
I enjoyed chatting with Dan Elliott, the creative force behind The Pointed Man Band. Like many of my favorite kindie artists, Dan has a unique vision and a sound influenced by various genres of music and years of playing in alternative music bands. The Pointed Man Band’s new CD release, Amongst the Tall Trees, is the third recording for, as Dan says, “the Grown and still growing.”
I enjoyed chatting with John Linnell, who with bandmate John Flansburgh, make up the creative force of They Might Be Giants. Besides releasing over 30 albums for adults over years, the band has created 5 totally enjoyable CDs for kids. We talked about what it’s like making music for a younger audience, recording his son Henry and friend Desi for “Letter Not Letter,” touring Borders, making commercials for Dunkin Donuts and music for various projects like Malcolm in the Middle, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Higglytown Heroes and the animated movie Coraline, among other things.
Hip hop artist SaulPaul came to the studio and besides a lovely chat, we were treated to a song created on-the-spot. Saul is an Austin-based musician whose recent release, We Dream In 3D, is his first album created with kids in mind. Besides four album releases, Saul has done two TED talks on empowerment, believing in your dreams, and making them happen, and written two books that also inspire his music. Since this interview, SaulPaul released a second kindie album, All Star Anthems.
I LOVE Best Kids, the first-ever Amazon music kindie release from Best Coast, and was excited to chat with Bethany Cosentino, singer-songwriter of the band. We talked about some of the many things she’s done musically, including songs for PBS KIDS interstitials and a Christmas song for one of the American Girl movies. Bethany even did a funny video with Super Deluxe called “Jerry Maybe We Should Get Married,” based on Elaine quotes from actress Julia Louise Dreyfus during Seinfeld episodes. Enjoy!
Back in April 2018, Falu’s Bazaar graced the sound stage here at WTMD for a wonderfully different Saturday Morning Tunes performance. Falu and guitarist Brian Vargas stopped by Young At Heart and we chatted about Falu’s Bazaar, her debut album for kids, listened to a song WTMD’s Donnie Carlo recorded during Saturday Morning Tunes, and were treated to a beautiful demonstration of Indian solfeggi by Falu. Falu won a Grammy in the Best Music for Children category in 2022.
I chatted with Thulani and Tommy Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis, and we talked about the power of music and hope, and about the inspirations for the music off their Grammy-nominated kindie release Songs of Peace and Love for Kids and Families Around the World. Within this interview, you’ll hear song excerpts of “All Women Are Beautiful,” “Different Colors Mean Nothing To Me,” and “Long Walk To Freedom”.
I loved chatting with Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Shephard of the Alphabet Rockers. Working together as a team for 20 years, this dynamic duo have created an amazing live hip hop show for families, and four CDs for kids. Their release, Rise, Shine #Woke, received a Grammy nomination for “Best Children’s Album.”
Andrew & Polly are award-winning music makers and the hosts of Ear Snacks, a podcast for young kids. Their seriously catchy earworms (“Grapes,” “Dancing Pants”) and inventive re-imaginings of classic favorites (“Forever Young,” “Ghostbusters”) are smart, quirky, and full of heart. The duo’s self-produced albums have received Parents’ Choice Awards (Odds & Ends, 2015 / Ear Snacks, 2016). Andrew & Polly compose and produce music for television and film, and their production credits include songs for Wallykazam!, Sesame Studios, the score to the Welcome To The Wayne and a bunch of commercials and films for grownups. I was so happy to chat with them about their thoughts on making music for kids, creating a great podcast and being parents
Danny Weinkauf is a dad, long-time They Might Be Giants bassist and kindie artist with two CDs for kids and a brand new release, Osome. I spoke with Danny and his Red Pants Band after their wonderful show on Saturday Morning Tunes. We chatted about his work with TMBG, his happiness with having a really great band for kids, and his work as a physical therapist for children, among other things. Here’s “B Is For Build” Danny wrote for Sesame Street.
Dan Zanes has been releasing some great family music since 2000, after being a member of the 80’s rock band the Del Fuegos. He occupies a unique place in American music where sea shanties, English music hall, North American and West Indian folk music, play party songs, the spirit of early rock-and-roll and soulful originals collide. With his band, Dan Zanes and Friends, he has toured the world sharing handmade 21st-century social music with enthusiastic crowds of kids and kid sympathizers. I chatted with Dan from his home in Brooklyn.
Walter Martin was the bassist with The Walkmen, a band played here on WTMD long before Young At Heart started playing Walter’s kid-friendly CDs. Nowadays, The Walkmen have disbanded, and Walter has been busy in his studio in Brooklyn creating some very original music for everyone. In 2014, he released We’re All Young Together, a CD for kids that to date has spawned three songs used as Apple and Android commercials. We love this CD so much here at Young At Heart, that we use a bit of the title track as our weekly intro. Late last year, Walter released his first solo CD for adults called Arts and Leisure, and he’s just released a new CD for kids called My Kinda Music. Prolific? I’d say so! I was so happy to catch up to Walter and chat about his music and videos when he called one morning from his home in Brooklyn.
Priscilla Ahn is one of my favorite Adult Kids. Although she’s released some beautiful albums for adults since 2008’s A Good Day, her most recent release, LA LA LA, is her first for kids, and a big favorite here at Young At Heart. Ahn’s songs have appeared on the television shows Grey’s Anatomy, Knight Rider, Make It Or Break It, Married Single Other, several episodes of the Ghost Whisperer, and in the films Disturbia, Bride Wars, Love Happens, My Sister’s Keeper, Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove and Moms’ Night Out. We chatted via phone from her home in LA, about all kinds of things – from how being a new mom is influencing the songs she writes, her success licensing her songs and how much fun touring with Willie Nelson was.
It was so much fun zooming with Jared Mees and his 9-year-old daughter, July, chatting about their debut release You Are Magic, bad kitties and the creative process in general. Jared, July and 4-year-old Piper Mees are Triple Rainbow, a new family band based in Portland, Oregon. Besides 15 incredibly catchy, charming pop tunes inspired by daily family life and things kids care about, the band’s videos are a joy to watch.
I had the rare opportunity to chat with one of the kindie music industry’s most important supporters and promoters, Kenny Curtis. Kenny has worked in children’s TV and radio for over 20 years, hosting the radio show The Animal Farm on SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live and more recently working with the new kindie label 8lb Gorilla Records. Kenny was an early supporter of my kid-friendly band Milkshake and years ago I gave him a llama puppet which – yep – he still has! It was great fun talking about some of our favorite kindie songs over the years, and Kenny’s amazing career.
I loved talking with Cactus, better known as Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. The Grammy Award winning band has released seven albums, two books – even a hot sauce! We chatted about his latest release, The Beat Bach Symphonies, a blend of rich and universal folktales from different cultures around the world combined with melodies composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. The Beat Bach Symphonies is a collaborative effort with the Asheville Symphony and also features musicians and vocalists from West Africa, Peru, Japan, Egypt and the Cherokee Nation. Cactus zoomed from his home in Asheville, NC.
Charlie McGee of Formidable Vegetable is the real thing when it comes to living an environmentally conscious and sustainable lifestyle, and spreading positive ideas through music. The band makes amazing “Ecological Electro Funk Swing” and Charlie is a firm believer in permaculture and regenerative, sustainable ways of doing things. He Zoomed in all the way from Australia to talk about his work and the band’s just-released EP Garbage Guts. Charlie’s also got a solo project for adults called Not Just Charlie.
I so enjoyed chatting with kindie rocker Joanie Leeds, who’s latest album All the Ladies, is up for a Grammy award and features an all-female line-up – from singers and musicians to engineer and producer. We talked about being a woman in the music industry, the positive change that can happen when women come together to support each other and this year’s Grammy Awards, among other things. Since this interview aired, All the Ladies won the 2021 Grammy Award.
Lisa catches up with four-time Grammy-nominated kindie artist Justin Roberts. Justin is like the James Taylor of kids music – his singing puts us in a calm place. He’s recently released Wild Life, a album full of songs inspired by the birth of his son, Eli. It’s also up for a Grammy nomination, and we talk about that, and other things in his very creative life.
I throughly enjoyed chatting with Frances England – a San Francisco-based kindie and folk artist that I have long admired. Frances has released seven award-winning albums since 2006, her latest the new six-song EP Honey. Besides hearing tunes from the new EP, we talked about the creative process and joy found in songwriting and recording.
GRAMMY nominated artist SaulPaul is an Austin-based kindie musician who’s new release, Be the Change, encourages listeners to positively influence the world we live in. This is my second interview with the artist, and we chatted about his music, performances and history that led him to work with young people and help break the cycle of neighborhood culture he himself experienced. From performing at two TEDx Talks, five Super Bowls, America’s Got Talent, SXSW, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Austin City Limits, SaulPaul has performed nationally and internationally in theaters, concert venues and festivals across the country.
Soon after the shut-down here in Baltimore, Dan and Claudia Zanes started up their Social Isolation Song Series, filming a song a day from their home in an effort to stay connected and encourage people to find joy and meaning in song. We talked about the series, their music and the times in general.
Lisa chats with Nashville songwriter Luke Laird about his new project The Cool Chips. Thanks to the pandemic and being home with the family, Luke, his wife and two boys came up with some wonderful kindie songs they put out as a 6-song digital only release. Luke has penned over 20 Billboard #1 songs for artists like Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood, John Legend, Ne-Yo, Sheryl Crow and more.
Laurie Berkner and Susie Lampert stopped by Young at Heart and we got to catch up and talk about years of great success making music, videos, books and plays for little ones. In some ways, Laurie and Susie have helped raise a whole bunch of kids. Enjoy the conversation, and follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Young at Heart Radio for the best in kindie music.
I loved chatting with Morgan Taylor, the creator and musician behind Gustafer Yellowgold, a 9 year-old pointed headed creature from the Sun. Morgan created the sunling back in 2005 and has told the ongoing adventures of Gurstafer’s life here on Earth through album releases, DVDs and most recently Amazon Audible Originals. Grammy-nominated and internationally celebrated for his work, Morgan, his music, stories and characters are a delight for ears, eyes and mind.
I had been looking forward to chatting with Nashville singer-songwriter Elliott Park ever since SiriusXM’s Kenny Curtis told me about him over lunch. Soon after Elliott sent me his debut kindie release Just Be it became one of my favorites. Back in 2006, his song “I Loved Her First” hit #1 on the Billboard Country music chart, and although many of his songs thrive in Nashville, Elliott’s main body of songs tend toward the unconventional. Just Be keeps within this category, with subjects and instrumentation that’s never boring and, as Elliott suggested, if it gives the listener whiplash, it’s okay.
Ants Ants Ants stopped by Young At Heart during their east coast tour back in 2019. These Portland, Oregon musicians had just released The Robot EP, their second recording for kids. Rich harmonies from a bunch of great guys who have known each other for over a decade, and inventive instrumentation for songs inspired by conversations between father and daughter on those precious walks to school, and chats between uncles and their nieces and nephews.
I so enjoyed chatting with musician Victor Giordano and teacher Nancy Lewis, the creative forces behind the music of Little Magic. Based here in Baltimore, Victor released Good Thing You’re a Kid. The CD is made up of songs featured in 20 years of 2nd grade plays at the McDonogh School here in Baltimore. Victor has re-recorded some of his favorites, singing and playing all the instruments on this special kindie release.
Sonia De Los Santos and bandmate Martin Vejarano stopped by Young At Heart, and we chatted about how gratifying performing for families can be, and how for Sonia and Martin, it keeps them wanting to keep creating more original music. After years playing with Dan Zanes and Friends, Sonia branched out on her own. In 2015 she released her first solo family music album titled Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island (Parents’ Choice Foundation Gold Award Winner) a collection of songs that reflect her experiences growing up in Mexico, moving to another country, learning about other cultures, and in the process, feeling closer to her own heritage. Last October, Sonia released her second album, ¡Alegría!, a bilingual album for families. In January 2018, Sonia and Martin performed live at Saturday Morning Tunes, and thanks to engineer Donnie Carlo, you’ll hear a song from that performance during the interview.
Brooklyn-based Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats stopped by Young At Heart and we were treated to a live in-studio performance of “Travelin’ All Around,” a song off their new kindie release All The Sounds. So great, and you can hear it here! Lucy and the band chat about all kinds of things, including their love of music, and Lucy’s great affection for her son, Darius.
It was lovely chatting with Steve Erdman of Lard Dog and the Band Of Shy, a wonderful kindie band from NY. We talked about Steve’s inspirations, record-collecting, and the Lard history and philosophy. Some of you might’ve caught the band’s show at The Senator a while back when Lard Dog headlined a Saturday Morning Tunes, giving a fantastic performance. Steve has created an amazingly entertaining entity which had off-Broadway beginnings. Theatrical, fun and never boring, Steve and Co. are like a mix between Pee Wee Herman and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Lard – Life’s A Real Dream” – is full of positive messages and happy energy.
Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer are two Grammy-winning musicians who have been making music for both kids and adults for over 45 years. The duo played a Saturday Morning Tunes show here at WTMD, and released a new CD Zoom a Little Zoom – A Ride Through Science. The CD is chock full of songs about science. Their superb harmonies are backed by instrumental virtuosity on the guitar, five-string banjo, ukulele, mandolin, cello-banjo, and many other instruments.
After a decade-long career with RCA Records jam band From Good Homes, recording and touring with acts from the Dave Matthews Band to Bob Dylan and Bob Weir’s Ratdog, Brady Rymer ventured into family music as he started his own family, releasing Good Morning, Gus in 2000. Since then, he has released nine CDs, including 2017’s GRAMMY-nominated Press Play, 2014’s GRAMMY-nominated Just Say Hi! and the 2008 GRAMMY-nominated Here Comes Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could. His most recent album, Revvin’ Up the Reindeer, is a sleighful of songs to celebrate the holidays, Little Band That Could style. My band Milkshake and Brady and his Little Band That Could have know each other since 2002, and it was great having him stop by Young At Heart at WTMD to catch up.
WTMD plays Bob Schneider’s music. The station likes this Austin musician, and maybe you’ve heard songs like “Stars Over Your House,” “40 Dogs (Romeo and Juliet)” or “Please Ask For Help” (which Bob says his son Luc wrote the chorus for). So when I told the guys here at WTMD that Bob released an album of songs he recorded with his son, and he was officially a Young At Heart “Adult Kid,” they were so excited. Well…maybe they weren’t really excited. But I was, because I Will Find You No Matter What – Songs By Luc and Bob Schneider is so refreshing and original, and perfect for the show. We talked with Bob for today’s Adult Kid feature, and I love that he feels he writes children’s songs for adults, and recording with his son Luc when Luc was younger seemed a natural thing to do. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Here’s a video for “40 Dogs (Romeo and Juliet).” If you have Amazon Prime you can stream videos for all the songs off the CD.
Listeners might know Chris Ballew from the alt-rock band Presidents of the United States, but since 2009, Chris has been making music for families under the stage name Caspar Babypants. In making music with kids in mind, Chris has found a seemingly boundless creative outlet, and has released 12 CDs over 8 years. I chatted with Chris from his home in Seattle and talked about both his adult and kid music ventures, along with his appreciation of simplifying one’s life and loving his wife.
Lisa Loeb has released seven CDs for kids and eight CDs for adults since her career took off in 1994 with “Stay (I Missed You).” Her latest release is Lullaby Girl, CD #8 for families, on Amazon Music. I chatted with Lisa when she called in from her home in LA, and we talked about her many ventures – from Camp Lisa, a non-profit that sends kids who wouldn’t otherwise afford it to summer camp, to her children’s books, over 30 videos for children and music for a TV version of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”
Barry Louis Polisar is a musician and storyteller who has been making kids and adults laugh while they think for over 40 years. In 2007, Jason Reitman, director of the movie Juno, called Barry and asked to license his song “All I Want is You.” For Reitman, the song perfectly represented Juno’s transition. “That’s the most beautiful thing about Barry’s music,” he said. “It seems to co-habitate both worlds, being an adult and being a child.” I chatted with Barry just after he finished performing an incredible set at the Saturday Morning Tunes Family Festival in June.
Steve Burns (the original host of Blue’s Clues) and Steven Drozd (The Flaming Lips’ multi-instrumentalist and multi-Grammy winner) have joined forces as STEVENSTEVEN to record Foreverywhere, their debut album of children’s songs for everyone. The two had met in the early-2000s when Burns was recording his first album of original music at a studio in upstate New York owned by The Lips’ producer Dave Fridmann, and after working on a video of “I Hog the Ground” for Noggin’s Jack’s Big Music Show, Steve and Steven decided to eventually do an album for kids. Foreverywhere is part concept album, part legend, all play, fun and filled to the brim with immediate music that will be enjoyed by kids, parents, fans of The Flaming Lips and grownup fans of Blue’s Clues alike. I caught up with them by phone February 22, before their first family show in Brooklyn.