Monthly Archives: January 2014

Everyone’s Invited – An Interview on Goober Kids Radio!

Goober Kids RadioThe current episode of Goober Kids Radio with Trevor is entirely dedicated to an interview with me about the Jungle Gym Jam, our new album, and how we got started and what inspires us. I give some acoustic performances and Trevor spins some of our tracks.

At age 13, Trevor is a highly skilled radio host, multimedia wiz (He designed the opening title animation and closing credits for the Cool Rockin’ Daddy Video Show!) and kindie rocker in his own right with The Zing Zangs. He actively engages the kindie community doing Skype chats to collaborate on songwriting and ideas to advance public awareness and excitement about music for kids and families.

Win mechandise from the Jungle Gym Jam store!Trevor’s also doing a giveaway of our CD along with other merchandise from our store! Check out the Goober Kids Radio Contests page for a chance to win the album, a tie-dye T-shirt, beach ball and tambourine in a gift basket.

You can also subscribe to the Goober Kids Radio podcast on Apple iTunes.

New Music Video: “A Bowling Party”

Here’s our latest music video, directed by Brian Fitzpatrick: “A Bowling Party.”

We filmed it at Eagle Rock Lanes in West Orange, NJ and had such a great time making this fun video for you!

Get the story behind the song.

Download on iTunes

The Jungle Gym Jam is:

Jason Didner – lead vocals, guitar
Casey McCleary – harmony vocals, guitar
Judy Helbig – bass guitar, harmony vocals
Ross Kantor – drums, harmony vocals

In the recording studio:

Meg Beattie, harmony vocals
Produced and engineered by Dave Cushing, Snowdome Studios, Montclair, NJ
Mastered by Scott Anthony, The Viewing Room, Maplewood, NJ


Appreciating the Influence of Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger - Photo by Anthony PepitoneToday, a life the likes of which we might all aspire to live has ended. Still vital to the end, still singing to the end, at the age of 94, Pete Seeger has passed the torch to all those who would put songs in the hearts of kids and grown-ups, who would seize every opportunity to bend the arc of history toward social justice, undeterred even by very advanced age or the difficulty of the task at hand. His love story with his wife Toshi, who passed away only last summer, might well remind us to always want what we have.

Pete’s influence trickled into my life through the generations between himself and me, starting with my parents and teachers and most recently through my Jersey rock hero Bruce Springsteen (inspiration for my TV alter ego’s name Cool Rockin’ Daddy) and my esteemed colleagues at Children’s Music Network, as well as the larger kindie and folk communities. When I was assigned to interview Steve Pullara about his “Absolutely Positively Getting Along” album, which contained strong, unmistakable anti-bullying messages and benefits the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization, I was delighted to hear a new track featuring Pete and to get Steve’s take on having worked with artists of his stature.

Fellow kindie artists from Alastair Moock to Brady Rymer have elegantly stated their recollections of Pete and given us quite a reminder that his monumental task of planting songs in the hearts of children and championing social justice falls to those of us who feel some form of his passion. Stefan Shepherd, a just-as-passionate writer about children’s music for his own blog, describes the enormity of this loss and shares in the desire to keep Pete’s beat going for new generations whether you call it kindie, kids’ music, folk or any other name.

I, for one, wish to thank Pete Seeger for the many precious gifts he left to America and the World: his songs, his relentless pursuit of causes he cared for, and the very example of his life and vitality. I join among the ranks who aspire to these gifts. 

Thank You for a Marvelous Album Launch!

IMG_20140126_121124Yesterday with amazing teamwork we pulled off a high-spirited family fun festival in the middle of winter! Kids were proudly waving their new foam light-up wands, dancing wherever they could find space in the packed venue and singing along with songs that were new to them.

Marc Bazerman of Baze and His Silly Friends delighted the crowd with his great sense of humor and warmth mixed with his wonderful musicianship. The New Captain Kangaroo, Pat Cashin, made lots and lots of new fans both from the stage and by drawing fantastic cartoons on-the-fly at the families’ tables. He truly astounded the kids when he would get a plate spinning on a rod and then pass it to a child’s extended finger as the spinning continued. What a huge confidence builder in that one simple, skillful action! Jamie Menake with her Fancy Faces and Places service certainly delighted the kids with her gentle manner and her artistry, especially her use of images that fit the themes of our songs.

Marc Bazerman, Baze and His Silly Friends

Marc Bazerman, Baze and His SIlly Friends

Jason Didner from the Jungle Gym Jam with Pat Cashin, the New Captain Kangaroo

Pat Cashin, the New Captain Kangaroo!

Face painting by Fancy Faces and Places

Fancy Faces and Places


Merch Table by Bitty Box Marketing

Merch Table by Bitty Box Marketing

There was something extra special about our merchandise table; it was run by Jeanette Lauture from Bitty Box Marketing, who you might remember from Aunt Jean’s Toys and Treats. She brought the warm, welcoming and appealing sense of that store to our festival, along with the excellent and eager help provided by Maya, Leila and Benji from Montclair High School.

The turnout was beyond my wildest dreams, and I’m so happy you all came with your families to take part in our festivities. My wife Amy said she was moved almost to tears by the sight of the full house! It was great to meet so many of your little rock stars and see the decorations on their faces. I loved your sing-along responses on “Jungle Gym Jamming” and “Stay in the Pool.” Your freeze dancing was so much fun to see in “The Pick Song.”

Co-songwriter Amy and our daughter

Co-songwriter Amy and our daughter

The crowd at Just Jake's Bar & Restaurant for Jungle Gym Jam album release

The crowd from the stage

Were you there? Tag yourself on our Facebook page!

Electric guitar raffle for Human Needs Pantry

The big raffle winner got a guitar!

I’m very excited for Adam Marks who won a Sekova vintage 60’s era electric guitar in a raffle by donating food to the Human Needs Food Pantry. Congratulations also to Jennifer Chelseka who won a gift basket of Jungle Gym Jam merchandise including our new CD “Everyone’s Invited,” a beach ball and more. I’m very appreciative of what the Pantry does for the hungry in our area and glad our audience thought so much of the needs of others to bring food.

Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam acousticThe band was on fire, thanks to the glowing harmonies from Casey McCleary and Judy Helbig and the rock-solid rhythm section formed by Judy on bass and Ross Kantor on drums. Mousey and Ziggy, the sound team, gave us every advantage to sound our best and were kind and patient with us through the setup process. Patty, the manager, dealt admirably with the mostly happy dilemma created by the large turnout and the competing needs for both table space and dancing space for the kids.


Producer Dave Cushing

Our guest performers delivered joy as well, from producer Dave Cushing taking the stage on “Window of the Train” to reproduce his acoustic guitar work, to Meg Beattie bringing her harmonies to life on “Five Sea Lions.” NJ Kiddie Rock mainstay Ron Albanese “Polka Dot” added to the fun of “Down By the Bay,” freeing me up to do a little shredding on the guitar while he handled the frontman role like a rock icon.

After our set, young Lindsey Rawding turned many heads with her cups-as-percussion rendition of “When I’m Gone” and a very warm, mature and reliable voice coming out of an 8-year-old.

The turnout was fueled by a team effort with many people contributing to the promotion of the event. Our publicist Irene Maslowski spread our story far-and-wide to public calendars and newspapers all over northern New Jersey and formed some relationships with parent bloggers who are finding that our music can be an essential part of local family life, but live and on record. Jeanette helped out with a very personal e-mail message to the loyal following she’s earned over the years. Kim from Diva Moms NJ, Scott from Fun New Jersey and Kim from NJ Kids Online all encouraged the attendance with notes within their social and professional circles as well.

My parents rarely ever missed a gig of mine even since I was a 6th grader playing trumpet in the school concert band and it was wonderful to have their support along with Aunt Ellen, who contributed the guitar for the raffle, my brother Matt, sister-in-law Danielle, Sister-in-law Judy, brother-in-law Michael and the nieces and nephews: Natalie, Maya, Chase and Cameron.

I’m overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for this, our passion project, born out of our love for our daughter and for music as a key part of happy, healthy childhoods. I look forward to making more experiences like this one that we can share together.

–  Jason