And you thought you knew everything about the Twin Cities music scene. Turns out there’s a whole segment you’ve been overlooking because you didn’t discover it at the Turf Club: locally-hewn children’s music. We’ve got a list of acts you won’t mind popping into your in-car rotation . . . kids onboard or not.
Koo Koo Kanga Roo
We can never tell whether this hyper-enthusiastic duo sings with an unabated joy that perfectly channels their youthful audience, or if they’re poking fun at the genre with hipster stylings and exaggerated dance moves. Between zeitgeist-y songs about cat parties and ninja move instructional music videos, they put on a live show that’s truly all-ages. kookookangaroo.com
Songs by the Bunny Clogs are engineered for maximum kid enjoyment factor: they were written by kids (with parental supervision, of course). The Honeydogs’ Adam Levy and his brood came up with their sophisticated repertoire that mixes references from Prince, 90s funk, and 70s folk songs matched with goofy lyrics about food and other childhood concerns. bunnyclogs.bandcamp.com
The Roe Family Singers
Though not created expressly for children, the Roe Family Singers take an all-in-the-family approach to music, making it perfect for little ears. Straight bluegrass style songs provide an education in American musical tradition, and repetitive refrains typical of the genre match kid-sized attention spans. Unusual instruments make for a captivating stage presence. roefamilysingers.com
Like the Twin Cities’ own chapter of Schoolhouse Rock singers, the Bazillions take on prepositions, prefixes, and math problems in their easy rocking melodies. The grade school teachers behind the band wanted to make learning fun in their own curricula, and their act caught on, big-time. Now they’ve got hundreds of thousands of YouTube views on their animated music videos, awards from parenting organizations, and plenty of kids and parents as fans. thebazillions.com
BONUS: For the most sophisticated music lover, MPR’s The Current hosts a stream of big-kid music that’s appropriate for little ears in Wonderground Radio, which you can stream online. If you’ve got a Portlandia-level of protectiveness over your offspring’s musical palate, you’re in good hands with Wonderground. Think the Isley Brothers, Portishead, and the gentler side of Eddie Vedder mixed in with Yo Gabba Gabba! thecurrent.org/wonderground