Artist on Artist: Review of “Aquarium Rhapsody” by Steve Pullara’s Cool Beans Ensemble

…and now for something completely different!

I’ve mostly known Steve Pullara and his Cool Beans band for raucous rockabilly and lyrics that paint a Norman Rockwell-like picture of childhood, family and community life.

Album cover: Steve Pullara's Cool Beans Ensemble - Aquarium Rhapsody

But here, we see a very different side of Steve’s musicality. We are fully immersed in wordless, classically-influenced soundscapes suggesting an underwater world that’s mostly tranquil and occasionally frenetic.

Piano, flute, strings and classical guitar appear most often through this album as Steve and his ensemble use sounds to set the scenes and tell the stories.

The album opens with “Frog Hop,” which sonically portrays cheerful leaps through our marine setting. The title track, “Aquarium Rhapsody” shimmers in a manner pleasantly reminiscent of Debussy’s Claire de Lune. “Flow” continues the graceful, peaceful nature of the watery world.

Things get more unpredictable on “Avoiding the Hooks.” where sudden jolts of flute melody portray a fish cleverly navigating a dangerous environment. “Phillip’s Glass Tank,” “Pearl Divers” and “Pond Swirl” restore a sense of calm in the waters. Steve drives home the theme of the album with “Aquarium Rhapsody Reprise Bolero,” the only track driven by a drum – in this case a snare drum, propelling the ethereal melody.

Behind the Scenes

Steve composed the album’s songs himself. As the artist listing “Steve Pullara’s Cool Beans Ensemble,” this album “Aquarium Rhapsody” is very much a group effort after composition. Steve shares arrangement credit with pianist/recording engineer Patrick Robinson.

Tess Remy-Schumacher contributed cello playing, as Mark Henkels and Steve performed on flute. Brian Nagy played the classical guitar and Vince Riggi supplied the sounds of the drums.

Who is this Album For?

Steve Pullara’s Cool Beans music is intentionally created for children. “Aquarium Rhapsody” will help create a calming yet stimulating atmosphere for any child from infancy and up.

Older children with more critical thinking skills and some music appreciation experience might engage in some discussion points about the album:

  • What instruments do you hear?
  • Are any instruments playing a character or part of the scenery?
  • How do these pieces make you feel?
  • If you could give these pieces your own titles, what would they be?

Given these types of questions about making a connection with the music, these pieces could be used to great effect in a music appreciation class or in a family setting. Steve suggests on his web site that young music students could perform these pieces at their respective instrument recitals as well.

Where to Find the Album

The album “Aquarium Rhapsody” by Steve Pullara’s Cool Beans Ensemble is on all streaming services and available for purchase/download at Steve’s official site:

Uncle Floyd Radio Show to Air “Jersey Dinosaurs”

Sunday, 11/6/22 in 9AM Hour Eastern Standard

Set back your clock and get ready to rock! At 9AM Eastern on Sunday morning 11/6, the Uncle Floyd Radio Show will air “Jersey Dinosaurs” for your family’s entertainment and education!

If you’re in northern NJ you may pick up 89.1 FM. If you’re anywhere else, go to to listen live to WFDU-FM, Fairleigh Dickinson University Radio. Uncle Floyd, a long time family-friendly TV and radio personality, comedian and piano wizard, will play “Jersey Dinosaurs” as part of his “Listener’s Lounge” segment. You’ll also hear eclectic choices from his massive collection of vintage vinyl that you won’t hear anywhere else!

Jersey Dinosaurs, a rock song for kids & families by Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam

Jersey Dinosaurs

The Hadrosaurus Foulkii is a species of dinosaur found in what is now Haddonfield in southwestern New Jersey. Its fossilized remains were the most complete set of dinosaur remains found anywhere in the world at the time of its discovery in the 1800s. So there’s one more thing that makes New Jersey awesome – we have our own dinosaur history!

Learn more on the State of New Jersey’s web site.

Artist on Artist: Steve Pullara and His Cool Beans Band

Album Review of “Aliens, Astronauts and Asteroids!”

by Jason Didner, Jungle Gym Jam Music

Steve Pullara and His Cool Beans Band - Aliens, Astronauts and Asteroids! Album cover

This space-themed album by Steve Pullara and His Cool Beans Band clearly has the right stuff! The song lyrics present a conversation, not a lecture. Synthesizers embellish Steve’s signature rustic roots-rock sound, adding to the not-of-this-Earth setting central to the album’s theme. Musical styles range from old-school Johnny Cash country to reggae, ska and new wave.

There’s something for multiple age ranges of youth on these tracks. Largely, the lyrics ask questions and spark curiosity. School-age children will get a laugh from the gross-out factor of “Blow Your Nose in Outer Space.” Pre-schoolers will spin themselves dizzy to “Spin like a Satellite” if given a little encouragement. For me the highlight was “Mission Control” with its important message that it takes teamwork to make great things happen, including behind-the-scenes teammates who don’t make the headlines.

“Splashdown,” with its callbacks to references in other songs, really speaks to the importance of a work having a theme and the reason we’d lose something if we all switched from making albums to only making singles. The presence of synthesizers throughout the album also ties the theme together.

This album is available for streaming and download on all major music platforms. I recommend this album for kids of all ages and their grown-ups.

Jungle Gym Jam Tunes Included in New Jason Didner Album

“It’s a Jersey Thing” to Contain Two Jungle Gym Jam Tracks

This Friday, 7/15, I’m releasing an album that’s the culmination of 25 years of writing and recording rock songs of Jersey humor and Jersey soul. Appropriately titled “It’s a Jersey Thing,” this album catches me in the act of writing about what I know – my home state! So, I’ve chosen “Jersey Dinosaurs” and “Summertime Santa” from our Lollipop Motel album to join tunes like “You Can’t Get There in Jersey” and “Jackals on the Prowl” in capturing the spirit and attitude of New Jerseyans and the place where we’re from.

And you can expect those songs to appear in my live set whether I’m playing in Jersey at a Jungle Gym Jam show for kids or a Jason Didner show for all ages. I’m performing an album launch concert Saturday, July 23 at Pilsener Haus & Biergarten in Hoboken at 5PM and will play the entire album, including those 2 songs.

Thanks so much for following along with my kids-oriented and all-ages versions of my act. It’s nice to see both sides come together here!

You can pre-order “It’s a Jersey Thing” now and get 2 tracks right away. The rest of the album (including the Jungle Gym Jam tracks) will arrive on Friday.

New video: “Super Clean Escape Machine”

A rock song and video about the many benefits of cycling

This song comes from my “other” musical personality (rock songs more for grown-ups), but easily crosses over into the Jungle Gym Jam’s specialty of rock songs for kids and families.

My father Bob, a fellow cyclist, told me he wrote a poem about cycling and would like me to set it to music, and that he had a concept for a video.

The anthemic rock track features multiple layers of harmony vocals, guitars, and keyboards. There’s a slide guitar solo that give s a nod to George Harrison’s immediately recognizable style.

New Jungle Gym Jam songs are in the works. Sign up below for announcements of singles and videos as they come.

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