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Sunday September 21, 2014
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Justin Roberts

 

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their sights on the preschool set, rather than on tweeners, teens, and twenty-somethings.

Back in the day there were Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and other acoustic folkies who made music for adults and also for children--a whole generation was raised on Peter, Paul and Mommy. In the eighties came the Canadian Invasion, with Raffi and then Sharon, Lois and Bram ruling the preschool roost. Then, in the last decade or so, indie rocker Dan Zanes--followed by They Might Be Giants and the Michigan-based Verve Pipe, among others--began amping up their songs for the youngest generation.

Roberts, who has since the late nineties released eight albums aimed at this ever-growing, evergreen demographic, might be the most prolific and best songwriter of the kindie rock lot. Like most children's writers and performers, he cultivates that ever-fertile field of favorite childhood topics--animals ("Willy Was a Whale," "Giraffe/Nightingale"), shenanigans ("Trick or Treat"), lullabies ("Count Them as They Go"), and snow days ("Snow Days"). However, occasionally other, sometimes harrowing themes less often found in children's songs also turn up in his material: subjects like modern parenting options ("Stay-at-Home Dad") and even death ("Sandcastle").

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