Give me that bluegrass music. Give me the traditional songs like “Down Home” and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” new classics like “Dueling Banjos” and “Rocky Top”, and covers like “Paint it Black” and “Hotel California” performed by a group of pickers. For dessert, I’ll take something light and sweet like Take It Outside, a new children’s release by The Okee Dokee Brothers.
Now, before you dismiss my lifelong appreciation of bluegrass as a symptom of my Appalachian address, note that I was born and spent most of my life minutes from Manhattan, in northern New Jersey. Blue grass always struck me as clean, simple, honest music, although there is nothing simple about the skills required to produce it.
The Okee Dokee brothers combine bluegrass with country and folk sounds, applying the mix to lyrics that are easily understood and easy to sing. Well, maybe some aren’t that easy…one of their songs is about the longest word in the English language, “Antidisestablishmentarianism,” and another—“Lucy and Tighty”—introduces “exponentially” and “aesthetically” to our kids’ vocabulary. “The Naked Truth” will do one thing, and it will do it well — reduce kids to giggles.
Could you be a superhero from a story? The Okee Dokee brothers bring in references to some pretty formidable characters (Captain Jack Sparrow, Luke Skywalker, Tarzan, 007, Indiana Jones, Frodo) when they sing about what it takes to be a hero, and — yes — you have what it takes! Another song, “Auctioneer,” jauntily captures the flavor of a Smoky Mountain auction. And “Neighbors” will convince most everyone that the people in their neighborhood aren’t all that weird.
I can’t imagine a kid who wouldn’t enjoy the silliness of “Wash Your Face” or the imagination of “The Extraterrestrials.” “Water Balloon,” the shortest song in the collection, repeats those two words for 38 seconds and inspires us to shuck our shoes and chase someone we love around a meadow with a water balloon, as we sing along. Try it with your kids — it’s fun.
The Okee Dokee Brothers are Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing, hailing from the Twin Cities. Their highly regarded previous release is Kids with Beards. If families don’t laugh and sing along with Take It Outside they seriously need a fun transplant. It hits the street on August 3.