This Made Me Nostalgic for a Time Before I Was Born

The Powerful Effect of a Wildwood, NJ Doo-wop Motel

Jason and Amy from the Jungle Gym Jam at the Lollipop Motel in North Wildwood, New JerseyImagine you’ve been traveling around your home state with your family, giving some shows along the way, and now you’re just about to arrive at vacation spot that’s all new to the kids. You’ve looked at pictures together on the family iPad. As you approach, that colorful, cheerful looking place so fills your sight, in a way that picture never could. You look at your 3-year-old daughter, who holds her hands to her cheeks as her jaw appears to drop, reveling in this sight she’d been anticipating . The historic Lollipop Motel in North Wildwood, NJ, an official Doo-wop motel, was that place for us the moment we arrived.

As soon as we got out of the car to check in at the motel office I knew we were in a very different place and time from our routine. The colors never appeared brighter; the splashing of the pool never sounded more refreshing; the doo-wop tunes playing poolside never more perfect in their harmonies. I felt like I was on the set of an early-60s Frankie Avalon movie of some sort.

Suddenly I was nostalgic for a doo-wop era that peaked 9 years before I was born and effectively ended with the first notes of Woodstock a year before I arrived in this world!

Jason Didner from Jungle Gym Jam sings Lollipop Motel at Lollipop MotelAmy and I set out to write a song that would do justice to those great moments in our family life; we figured a song about this doo-wop motel should be a doo-wop song. And we really wanted the song to carry the message about one of the great benefits of family travel – how the current, living moment, the “here and now” is heightened and we’re less carried away by everyday distractions like our cell phones.

Here’s a Facebook video of the song “Lollipop Motel” that the motel’s manager Denise filmed of me singing to my daughter Holly while she cuddles with my mom, Linda.

The song “Lollipop Motel” will be the title track of our new album, scheduled for May 13, 2016 release.

What experiences have made you nostalgic. Was it for a time you remember or for a time before you were born? How did you seize on expressing the nostalgic feeling? Your comments below this post are most welcome.

Putting the Family on the Family Album

Last night, the Jungle Gym Jam fulfilled its purpose in a deeper sense. It was always meant to be family music – from our family to yours – from the first times our almost-2-year-old inspired us to write songs through the way she was absorbing the world around her.

Holly, Jason and Amy from the Jungle Gym have a little fun after recording vocals for the Lollipop Motel album.As these nearly three years have gone by, Holly has grown into her role with the band, from those earliest shows where she’d stand on stage just to be close to Daddy and eat her snacks, unconcerned with the audience’s reaction, to now singing and dancing on stage and beginning to work the frets on her mini guitar.

But last night was a huge leap forward. Whereas our first album “Everyone’s Invited!” was made entirely by adults, our upcoming album “Lollipop Motel” now features three tracks with children singing (or roaring) on it. Holly and Amy laid down some vocal tracks for “Jam Packed’ and “Jersey Dinosaurs,” two songs that definitely benefit from youthful energy and humor. Now it’s truly an album by a family for families. It’s got parts sung by adults and kids for adults and kids!

Young Holly, now almost 5, handled the session like a total pro, willingly re-taking any passage where the timing could be tightened up and responding well to cues. This was clearly not the same kid who gives us a battle when we need her to stay at the table and keep eating dinner!

While Holly was easy to work with, she was also very spirited, having fun and lots of laughs in between takes. Her only request was that I sit as close to her as possible. Rearranging stools and microphones was no big deal; I was happy to do it. It was truly a great family moment for Amy, Holly and me. And it made us that much more of a kids’ band

Here’s a live performance video of “Jersey Dinosaurs” in front of Haddonfield, NJ’s hadrosaurus statue from last summer:

The heart of our Jungle Gym Jam family music project has always been that it’s from our family to yours. What can you imagine your family creating to share with other families? Please comment below.

Make our Next Video With Us-Right from Your Home!

The Jungle Gym Jam wants your favorite clips of your kids jumping on the bed, couch, bouncy house, etc. for our upcoming music video “Too Big to Jump on the Bed.”

Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics:

I’m too big to jump on the bed
You’ll have to jump on it for us
‘Cause I would fall and bump my head
Like the five little monkeys before us

Wanted-video clips of your kids jumping on the bed for new Jungle Gym Jam music videoA 5-10 second clip would be great; you can submit more than one. You can experiment with holding your smartphone camera the tall way and the wide way and get creative with your use of real time video or slow motion effects.

We want to ensure proper use of your child’s likeness in the video, so a few ground rules:

  1. Please make sure your child is wearing at least shorts/pants that extend to or below the knees, even if wearing a nightshirt.
  2. Your child will appear anonymously in the video; we won’t tag your child’s identity in any way.
  3. As compensation for your child’s appearance in the video, I will mail you a CD copy of the new album “Lollipop Motel” (which contains this new song) prior to its release in May.

We’ll begin editing the video by February 15 for release on February 26, so we need your clips by 2/15. E-mail me at jason@junglegymjam.com in order to arrange transfer of your video file.

You can also RSVP on our Facebook event page for the making of this video and socialize with other families who are participating.

Thanks for Being Part of our Snow Day Concert Window Show!

Screen capture of Amy, Jason and Holly from Jungle Gym Jam giving a live, online family  show on Concert Window during the Blizzard of 2016.

Yesterday we took our concept of a live, online family concert further than before and you were right there with us! Since the forecast was pretty insistent from early last week that this storm would be coming, we made an early decision to schedule and promote this show as a family.

Last year I had given a solo Concert Window show and Holly had made a cameo appearance in it. This year, Amy was in on the act and we were able to introduce a lot more in the way of visual elements. We were truly a family being a family act.

More of you showed up this year than to last year’s show. Baristanet Family helped publicize the show by featuring us in their Snow Day Survival Kit article. Jay Lustig (NJArts.net) gave us strong Twitter support. Our friends in our local community were very helpful in spreading the word, sharing posts on Facebook and adding their own enthusiastic comments about their hopes for the event.

The audience was from all walks of our family life – our very own family – my parents Bob & Linda, brother Matt and sister-in-law Danielle and Holly’s young cousins Natalie & Maya were checked in online, along with our great friends from Holly’s pre-school community – Nicole and her daughter Elisa, Naomi & Manny and their daughter Lila took in the show. Our new friends Ariana and Apryl from Playhouse Nursery School also signed in to participate, along with their young ones.

It’s particularly sweet to have the support of other children’s entertainers, and we were fortunate to have that support from Lucy Kalantari, a stunningly talented singer/songwriter whose jazz-inflected ukulele playing, scat singing and infectious joy conjure up the sounds of the Roaring 20s, was on hand with her son Darius, a budding (very) young cellist. Lucy followed up our performance with a photo of Darius watching our show on their family’s big screen TV.

We also got to meet new families in the show, an opportunity for which we are very grateful.

We’d love to continue putting on Concert Window shows for you and would love to book these shows on dates and times that are best for your family’s home entertainment needs. So, please use the comments below to answer these questions:

How often would you watch a live, online family concert at home with the kids? Monthly? Weekly? During snowstorms, heavy rain, etc.?

Do you prefer weekday or weekend shows? Morning, afternoon or evening shows?

Would you also be interested in a concert for adults after the kids’ bedtime? I would perform a combination of covers by U2, Temptations, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Eagles, Beatles and originals with more grown-up themes.

Thanks for all your support and input; I’m always happy to position my act where it will do the most good.

Musically yours,

Jason

This Saturday-Snowstorm Family Online Concert Special

Jason Didner from Jungle Gym Jam rocks a Concert Window online family show with daughter Holly looking onBig snow is coming to New Jersey and surrounding areas on Saturday. So, heat up the cocoa, snuggle up with your little ones on the couch and interact with our online concert special. You can watch our show in HD and chat to us during the show. We’ll read your comments out loud and respond to them between songs, making your kids feel like rock stars! Viewing and participating is on a pay-what-you-want basis.

Showtime is 3:00 PM Eastern on Saturday, January 23 on your family computer or mobile device.

>> Reserve your tickets here and Concert Window will remind you to tune in at 3:00 on Saturday

Got your ticket? Great! Head on over to the event page on Facebook and tell your friends you’re attending.