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All-ages music

November 15, 2009
  • NON-SUGARY OPTIONS: Peter Himmelman, left, treats his young listeners like grown-ups, while Dan Perloff started a label for kid rock. (Note: An earlier version of this caption incorrectly identified these musicians.)
NON-SUGARY OPTIONS: Peter Himmelman, left, treats his young listeners… (Ann Johansson / For The Times )

Do your friends with kids a favor this holiday season: Don't buy them some plastic toy that requires four D batteries and makes an ungodly noise. Give them a CD that their kids will like and that the parents might not want to throw out the car window. Here are some suggestions:

Laurie Berkner, "Rocketship Run" (Two Tomatoes): The New York-based entertainer has such an eminently likable voice, it's no wonder she's the queen of the Nick Jr. set.

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Family, "Go Waggaloo" (Smithsonian Folkways): Arlo's daughter follows in the tradition of her grandfather Woody with a lovely batch of homespun folk songs for small tykes.

Peter Himmelman, "My Trampoline" (Minivan): The singer-songwriter doesn't dumb down his music or his lyrics; he makes an invitation to jump on his trampoline seem just as inviting to young and old.

Karen O and the Kids, " Where the Wild Things Are: Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Interscope): Like the movie and the book, these songs vividly render the realm of dreams, and of nightmares.

Ziggy Marley, "Family Time" (Tuff Gong): Kids love reggae, so when Bob's son made an all-ages record, it was an instant hit.

Milkshake, "Great Day" (Milkshake Music): The Baltimore band's music has grown with the members' kids; their debut was titled "Happy Songs." Now they write about how best friends become enemies.

Justin Roberts, "Pop Fly" (Carpet Square): A collection of Weezer-like power pop songs about baseball and stay-at-home dads.

The Sippy Cups: "The Time Machine" (Snacker Disc) is the newest offering from these overgrown club kids, but "Electric Storyland" might be the most rocking of all the all-ages recordings.

Uncle Rock, "Express Your Elf" (Jackpot): Holiday songs from this Shel Silverstein-meets- Buddy Holly kid rocker.

Various artists, "Picnic Playground: Musical Treats From Around the World" (Putumayo Kids): The Putumayo collections, available at many specialty stores, offer all-ages entertainment from around the globe. This latest release features music from France, South Africa, the U.S. and elsewhere.

Dan Zanes and Friends, "76 Trombones" (Festival Five): The new CD from the original Americana family music maker collects show tunes and includes a cameo from Carol Channing(!).

-- Evelyn McDonnell

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