Monthly Archives: July 2014

Video-“Yellow Submarine” – Jungle Gym Jam version of the Beatles song

This week I give Yellow Submarine by the Beatles the Jungle Gym Jam treatment. Part of the genius of the Beatles was their ability to connect with kids. This is why Yellow Submarine has been part of my repertoire of songs to play in schools long before I started the Jungle Gym Jam!

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Jason Didner performs his version of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine

My Key to a Young Attitude – Keep Having “Firsts”!

“For the first time in forever…” sings Princess Anna in the Disney movie Frozen, feeling like her life’s just beginning.

Jason Didner playing bass with Suzi Shelton in Scotch Plains, NJ

My first time playing bass in front of an audience since college – with Suzi Shelton. Picture by Elaine Harrison-Yau

I suppose I didn’t have a preconceived notion of life in my 40s but I will say that I feel pretty young and vital on a daily basis. One thing that keeps me feeling young is to keep having “firsts” in my life – as in first-time-ever or first-time-in-a-long-time experiences. Here are some firsts that I had this summer as a kids-and-family music professional and as a dad:

  • First time playing bass live in front of an audience since college in the early 90s. I got up on stage to join Suzi Shelton at her concert last week. In my college days I played bass in the pit orchestra for a few summer musicals like “Grease,” “West Side Story,” and “Olkahoma!”
  • First time running through a sprinkler since I was a kid! Spending the afternoon like this with my daughter and nieces was a joy!
  • First time giving a rock concert at 7:00 in the morning, easily a record for me. Thanks to some vocal warm-ups, my voice cooperated about as well as I could have asked it that early in the morning! This concert was 2 weeks ago at Sports Authority’s Grand Reopening in Springfield, NJ.
  • First time sitting on the deck just to watch the fireflies since I was a kid. Holly is the perfect firefly-watching buddy!
  • First time giving a ukulele lesson this week (while still new to the instrument myself). Soon I’ll reveal a surprise on how these uke lessons are being used.
  • First time licensing a cover song for official release as a single. This song will be released this fall as a duet with a very well known, respected and fabulous kindie artist.
  • First time using the wireless headset-mic in a full-band live setting. This gives me a whole new level of freedom to move in a song like “Jungle Gym Jamming!”
  • First time running my own podcast and interviewing fellow artists. The podcast is called “Make Kindie Happen – The Kids-and-Family Music Career Podcast.” I’ve interviewed Joanie Leeds and Miss Nina, as well as publishing two solo podcasts. Both guests offered very valuable experience and insight to the kids’ entertainment community.
  • Just last night, the first time rehearsing the Jungle Gym Jam with keyboards. Casey added a great new texture and sophistication to our sounds by sitting at the keys! I can’t wait to share it with you!
  • First time submitting an album for a Grammy award!
  • First time being Holly’s “running buddy!” This child is going to get me back into regular exercise. I don’t mind!

What are some “firsts” that you’ve had lately? What “firsts” do you want to have this summer? Discuss in the comments below.

Thingamajig – My version of a Kindie Favorite by Lucky Diaz & the Family Jam Band

The Family Jam Band meets the Jungle Gym Jam! After seeing two stellar live performances by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band as an acoustic touring unit, I was really feeling their hit “Thingamajig” as a song to perform as my weekly video. So here it is:

Around the 2-minute-30-second mark watch for a fun surprise I think you grown-ups will relate to if you’ve ever been glued to cable news a little too much…

Lucky’s original version of this song will play a key role on a new upcoming TV show on PBS Kids titled “Lishy Lou and Lucky Too.” You’ll have to tune in to learn more about this particular thingamajig. Leading kindie connoisseur Jeff Bogle wrote in Cooper and Kid’s list of top kids & family singles of 2013 that Thingamajig was “easily the song of the year.” After repeated listens, my family and I agree! Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band are also the current Latin Grammy winners in the Children’s Music category for their all-Spanish-language album “¡Fantastico!”

Another thing to know about Lucky, Lishy and Michael (multi-instrumentalist extaordinare who travels with the band) is what kind and genuine people they are. The level personal details they remember about fellow artists, fans and friends even upon first in-person meeting is striking. That generosity of spirit for kids that appears on camera is the real deal in-person. At a gathering known as KindieComm in Philadelphia, I was attempting to parallel park in a ridiculously tight space (even by New York City standards!) and Lucky took the time to guide me into the space, along with Steve from Hullabaloo! This family band has let success encourage them onto greater heights but has not let it tarnish their genuine goodness.

The backdrop is none other than the interior of Aunt Jean’s Toys and Treats, a store my family loved, where we enjoyed strolling on a summer Saturday night in Montclair with our then-two-year-old Holly. The store is no longer there in the brick-and-mortar sense, but we loved it so much we stayed in touch with its owner Jeanette Lauture, who now brings her store “on the road” to our festival performances so she can still give families that feeling of joy and wonder that goes with so much thought going into every detail of presenting toys and goodies.

Jason Didner plays Thingamajig by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

What do you think a thingamajig is? Comment below and let’s have some fun with this…

Sat July 12 at 7:00 AM – Grand Reopening of Sports Authority Union – Rt 22 Springfield

Sports Authority Grand Reopening NY/NJWe’re giving a sports-themed performance at the ribbon cutting where Sports Authority is offering great discounts to use in the newly remodeled sporting goods superstore! The first 250 customers through the door at 8am will also receive mystery bucks up to $500 and a Sports Authority goodie bag.

Click here to download the coupon PDF.

It is a jam packed day of fun, hourly $100 raffles, DJ, photo booth, money machine, popcorn, giveaways by local businesses, a grand prize of $500, autographed memorabilia and much much more.

Showtime is at 7AM; store opens at 8.

New moms looking to build or maintain physical fitness with baby in tow will also have an opportunity to sign up with Fit4Mom of Westfield and Warren to try their Stroller Strides classes.

Sports Authority Grand Reopening eFlyer

Our setlist will include:

  • A Bowling Party
  • Stay in the Pool
  • The Ultimate Frisbee
  • Jackals on the Prowl (original minor league ballclub theme song)
  • The Ultimate Frisbee
  • Jungle Gym Jamming
  • All Star (by Smashmouth)
  • Happy (Pharrell Williams)

Congratulations Raffi and Here’s My Version of Baby Beluga!

Children’s music legend Raffi has a new album out this summer – “Love Bug.” This is his first album of all new children’s music in 12 years. I’ve been following his social sharing over the last year since entering his profession and have seen him advocate passionately for his vision of childhood development via research and books. He’s best known for gently fostering healthy, happy childhoods in song and he’s back to those roots.

To celebrate, I’ve created my own version of “Baby Beluga” on YouTube. It’s a favorite of my nieces and a song that used to be requested of me long before I went kindie, when I would visit my wife’s and mom’s classrooms (both teachers!)

Congratulations Raffi on your return to making those cozy albums that help kids feel so safe and warm with their families!

Baby Beluga Jungle Gym Jam version - Congrats Raffi on New Album