WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING ABOUT “FRIENDS IN THE GARDEN”
“I love all the songs. I made up a dance for SeedsSoilWaterSun.” – Alma (age 3)
“I love your songs. My favorite song is “The Worm Squirm”. My inspirations are: to write a song about your fans called “I Love My Fans.” – Maya (age 6)
“I need to get an instrument so I can play along” – Rowan (age 5)
“Get up and makes you move funny, fun!” – Jordan (age 6)
“Catchy rhythms, funky, (the snake song) makes me feel like I was a snake.” – Sage (age 8)
I was sitting alone on a picnic table in a community garden. The sun was out, birds were singing and a cool breeze would drift by in waves. A few of us met there early in the morning and we had just finished a honey bee hive inspection. The honey bees were a new addition to the garden at that time (2014). That morning I had learned so much about the bees. Our wonderful (and very patient) beekeeper answered every question clearly and little by little I was starting to grasp, at least in an elementary way that the honey bee life is truly cool and complex.
So, I’m sitting there contemplating the honey bee life and all of a sudden start singing, “bees bees, honey honey, bees bees- they’ll sting me, if I get too close, try to put my nose in their beesness…”. KaBlam! The idea strikes me that I should write a bunch of songs to teach kids about organic gardening. Yes!
“DON’T TOUCH ME”!
I had worked with a kid’s program in the community garden over the previous few years. I had seen the transformation happen as they would get more and more familiar with the different plants and creatures in the garden. It was actually pretty striking. Most kids had not ever been around gardening, plants or bugs and were totally freaked out the first time they walked through the garden. They would walk between the raised beds, arms clinging to their sides, eyes looking left and right, vigilant that they will get through without being touched by a plant or a bug. Then they’re shown a sugar snap pea hanging from the vine or a beautiful, ripe strawberry hanging over the bed’s edge. They pick, they rinse, they eat, they…! What?! More please! And the transformation begins.
SING, LEARN, REMEMBER
The songs in this CD contain facts. Facts about honey bees, snakes, worms, ladybugs, composting, and other garden-related stuff. It’s so much easier to learn and remember what you’ve learned when you have a melody to go with the words. You know this intuitively and there are lots of reputable studies that show how music enhances mood, brain function and learning.
What if you combine great grooves, fun lyrics AND gardening facts. That’s “Friends in the Garden” in a compostable nutshell.
HOUSE OF MUSIC
This is a one-of-a-kind CD. Kids (and adults) get to explore the world of vegetable gardening and a variety of musical genres. I was raised to a soundtrack of international folk music (Greek, Bulgarian, Israeli, Indian, Lebanese- records my mother played), Latin and jazz (father played guitar), and the great pop music of the sixties and seventies. My own musical interests are all over the map and I’ve performed in bands playing or singing funk, jazz, Latin, country, and blues.
“Friends in the Garden” uses something from nearly every room in my house of music. I set out to turn kids (and their parents) on to a variety of musical genres but didn’t pre-determine what genres I would use. Instead, I let each song tell me what it wanted to be. I tend to write songs with the melody and lyrics coming out simultaneously so the style of each song became apparent at the outset. I don’t argue with my songs. One exception: At least one song on this CD had to feature a cowbell! I got to “explore the space” in Snakin’.
The musicians playing on this CD are some of Atlanta’s best. Real musicians playing real instruments! There are horns, flute, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3, baby grand piano, three types of bass guitar, congas, various percussion instruments, of course drums and guitar and all the real thing. The amazing Gwen Hughes lent her vocal talents on Keep it Clean. And I am thrilled to feature Levi Fleming and Edwin Espana on the title track, both 11 years old at the time of recording. I met Levi when he attended the kids program mentioned earlier.
Going to the Garden is a funky groove. The song describes what it’s like to be part of a community garden. Hint- it’s a great feeling!
Friends in the Garden is a hybrid swing jazz/old school hip-hop tune about companion planting. Learn common planting combinations like the Three Sisters.
Snakin’ has a slinky Latin flavor. Sung from the snake’s point of view, the song reveals important things to know about snakes.
Beez Beez is a fun, Andrews Sisters-type of swing jazz romp. Each verse has cool facts about honey bees.
SeedsSoilWaterSun is a beautifully mellow Bossa Nova. The song explains how to plant from seed.
Superb Herbs helps you remember which medicinal herbs are generally used for belly aches, stress and overall health. It features horns, has a New Orleans-style trumpet solo and is a “10” on a scale of “1” to “10”, “10” being “exceptionally cool tune”.
Eat a Rainbow is a disco tune that teaches kids how to “eat a rainbow”. Levi & Edwin have a spot in the song. It’s pretty funny.
Kids will love to memorize and repeat “Redorangeyellowgreenbluepurple food in my belly means I ate a rainbow”!
Polka Dotty is, you guessed it, a polka about lady bugs. Learn the story of how they got their name. No midi – real accordion, real fiddle. You’re welcome.
Keep it Clean is a hard driving song about organic gardening. I consider it a protest song against GMOs and synthetic fertilizers. It’s supposed to encourage thinking and discussion about these important environmental and health issues. But you don’t have to think at all, the sax and percussion break in the middle will make you dance and forget all about toxic fertilizers. The chorus is key.
The Rot Thing to Do teaches basic composting. It’s a hot guitar, blues shuffle kind of vibe, complete with a fun shout chorus at the end. Chime in everybody! “Compost”!
The Worm Squirm is an introduction to the fascinating life of earth worms as told from the worm point of view. You will love the gorgeous flute solo and playing throughout. Light rock. Surprise call-and-response at the end.
When You Share is a spiritual song about the harvest. It’s a laid-back, Motown-sound with a beautiful, universal message.
Listen. Learn. Enjoy. Share. Groove on and be Happy!