Family Music Reviews: Dancin’ in the Sun

By John Wood


All aboard for a joyous musical cruise to the islands courtesy of the latest release by Putumayo Kids, Caribbean Playground. Great care is taken by Putumayo for accuracy in the many cultural musical styles and languages that are included in this CD. The comprehensive liner notes are in English, Spanish and French and these are a history lesson in and of themselves. They highlight the lifestyles and infectious rhythm of our island neighbors to the South.


American artist Taj Mahal, a big proponent of world music, gets our boat afloat with the aptly titled “Great Big Boat.” Stops along the way include Jamaica, “Jamaica Farewell”; Puerto Rico, “Bomba Te Traigo Yo” and Trinidad, where we learn of “Anancy,” the popular mischievous spider whose story was brought to the Caribbean hundreds of years ago by African slaves. This celebration of indigenous music will have you dancing the day away, but don’t fall off the boat!


Caribean Playground, Various Artists, Putumayo Kids; $14.98 CD;


As reviewers we sometimes make vows that we have to eat. Mine usually involve clowns that name themselves after fruits or vegetables and CDs that have an opening song something to do with the sun – not your male child, but the sun.


So, as we beam in on Petaluma, Calif., and an artist known as James K, we engage this reviewer’s ultimate neurosis with a CD titled Good Morning Sun, Goodnight Moon. K’s second self-produced album contains 11 original, uplifting songs that gently celebrate life through a child’s eyes from sunup to sundown. Whether hunting wild asparagus or contemplating the creation of a new farm animal that gives both eggs and milk (a “chick-a-moo”), the arrangements and performances are always accessible. James K has restored my faith in songs about the sun and the moon, but now I have to lie down and rest.


Good Morning Sun, Goodnight Moon, James K, Rivertown Records; $15 CD, $13 cassette;


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