Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yes, It's Christmas

Well, after more than a year of blogging at this site, Christmas 2009 has finally arrived. Keeping up with all things Christmas has been a truly daunting but enjoyable task and I've learned quite a bit. One of the things I've learned is just how ridiculous the "War on Christmas" is. Don't get your religion mixed up with the ancient celebration of the winter soltice and nobody gets hurt. Since the dawn of man, people have prayed for the return of warm weather for the return of crops and better hunting. It's been co-opted a million times over to suit whatever religion/philosphy/scam wishes to make it their own and it will continue to be co-opted. I say stick to your belief and I'll stick to mine.

I'm throwing my hat in with Santa Claus. Nobody ever went to war in his name and he's got a positive message - "Be good for goodness sake".

The message of the Kindie Christmas has always been about love. I really think Christmas (and I can't think of anything better to call it) should just be about paying attention to those in your life who look out for you, encourage you and love you. And, you them.

I was fortunate enough to celebrate Christmas early when Hipwader DJ and I performed for the UCSF Children's Hospital and California Pacific Medical Center's Pediatric Ward. Expecting sad, miserable kids we found instead happy, joyous children challenged by adversity but not showing any signs of letting their medical ailments get their spirits down. Hearing the children laugh and seeing their beaming smiles during our performances gave us more joy than we would have ever expected. Like the Grinch, I think my heart 3 sizes that day.

I'm going to try and carry that feeling for the rest of my life.
Now, on a less serious's a cartoon!

Planet Sunday is amazing!

Love and Merry Christmas, Tito

Monday, December 7, 2009

Everybody Say, "Let it snow!"

So, I woke this morning to a couple of surprises. First, Kalani Hubbard had uploaded the video for "It's Wintertime" which we had collaborated on. I spent hours (really) viewing public domain VHS cassettes full of old Christmas cartoons. I never realized how many of them existed. Unfortunately, most of them were pretty bad. Fortunately, I located some scenes that fit the lyrics perfectly.
Kalani then came over to our "studio" (garage) and videotaped our bobbleheads on our winter-decorated stage - an Angelina Ballerina doll stage purchased on eBay!). Add some cool Noggin Bop wind-ups and a robot Santa and you got some wintertime fun.

The second surprise was it has snowed in the Bay Area! First time in over a decade it's actually snowed enough to stick on the ground and there's actually a few inches in some places.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, indeed!

This just in...another fanstastic review!


Monday, December 7, 2009
CD Review: "A Kindie Chrismas" by The Hipwaders
The following is a review of a promotional copy generously provided by the band...

I went into my first listen of this CD without knowing that The Hipwaders are an award winning kid's music act and for once my ignorance paid off allowing me to listen without preconceptions. Well, I did actually have some preconceptions, based on my misreading the album title (as "A Kindle Christmas") and it's whimsical graphics I was expecting a collection of novelty tunes with names like "The 12 Days of Facebook" or "Twas the Txt b4 Xmas". Imagine my (very pleasant) surprise to find, instead, a charming sleighful of lightly rockin' rootsy Christmas tracks that the whole family can enjoy throughout the holiday season. Then I re-read the tite - Kindie = Kid's Indie. Doh!

As I mentioned The Hipwaders are a kid's act but there's nothing juvenile about their work. This is the new wave of kid's tunes with integrity and street cred popularized by the likes of They Might Be Giants, Barenaked Ladies, Dan Zanes, Peter Himmelman and Los Lobos. In fact my wife at first thought I was listening to REM. The songs are simple, catchy and a welcome addition to any family's holiday music collection.

"A Kindie Christmas" is a fun, everyone in the family friendly disc that is well worth listen. Preview and/or buy it at lala, order A Kindie Christmas at Amazon or visit The Hipwaders Website.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Mel Brooks Version of The Beach Boys

Getting a mentioned in a poem has never been a band goal but now that this has happened I must say it's kind of cool. Poetry Midwest, an internet literary magazine, published the following poem by writer/poet/food & wine critic, etc... Jen Karetnick. In this poem, Mrs. Karetnick dons her travel writer/food critic/poet (paper hat) to document her experience at the Jelly Belly Candy Factory where The Hipwaders last performed over 3 years ago. I love her description of us as, "A Mel Brooks version of The Beach Boys".

However, I must point out that the band has never, nor will ever, perform songs from "The Lion King". This sort of treacle can join the list of songs by other composers for whom The Hipwaders will never perform such as Diane Warren and Andrew Lloyd Webber. We would rather eat a dozen boxes of Jelly Belly's Harry Potter Bertie Botts. With that said, after the poem enjoy our specially-made version of "Jellybeans" for the Jelly Belly company that has never been published. We were hoping the company could use the song in some way for promotion. Sadly, the never did.

Substitute Sugars By Jen Karetnick

The morning after the death

of the Pope, at the Jelly Belly factory

where his portrait hangs, fixed in candy

like pointillism gone mad, next to Elvis

with his licorice and cappuccino sideburns

and Ronald Reagan delineated in cream soda,

pleasant but long since flat, a band

called “The Hipwaders” belted out the theme

songs to animation—Spongebob Squarepants,

The Lion King—while we ate hot dogs,

carpeted with ketchup, in the hyper-cheerful

cafĂ©. From the recorded message we’d gotten

instead of directions I’d thought they were

“The Hip Waiters,” picturing men in tuxedo

jackets and cargo pants—some combination

of Todd Oldham and Old Navy—but found instead

a Mel Brooks version of the Beach Boys,

encouraging toddlers to cry in four-part chorale.

I couldn’t blame them; I was there, too,

wearing a paper hat shaped like a hope

that had seen days more crisp

than just-buttered toast, rubber pants

on my leaking patience, answering

over and over why no Jelly Belly beans

tasted like Cabernet, even though then

Mommy might like them. In fact

all production had ceased, though not

because of the Pope; inventory was being taken,

particularly of the newest flavor, mango,

with its orange-pink skin flecked with green,

mimicking the tiny fruit just beginning

to peep like the eyes of frogs from beneath

the buds in our trees at home,

and blackberry, thorned fruit

I can never get to grow. John Paul II

lay in state, televised, polished

beyond rigor mortis for whatever resurrection

might come his way. I hope he wasn’t disappointed.

The jelly beans, as it turns out, go through

three separate processes, tossed relentlessly,

drinking in the sanction of choice. In the end,

I bought ten pounds of Belly Flops,

those that didn’t quite get what kidney

shapes are all about, and don’t quite care

about livers, either. Like me, and the two kids

I know, or might know someday. Go ahead

and eat. It’s okay to gorge yourself

in the name of terminal harmony

JELLYBEANS (Jelly Belly Version) - The Hipwaders

Lyle: 'How 'bout some more beans, Mr. Taggart?' "
Taggart: [fans his hat in the air] I'd say you've had enough!"

Mel Brook's "Blazing Saddles"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Santa's Train video

Made back in 2001 to entertain my boys, this video features my HO scale train layout with some additional classic Christmas characters doing their thing. The most awesome Kalani Hubbard edited my crummy raw footage replacing my original demo to fit the new Hipwaders' recording.
My youngest slowly destroyed the layout during his toddler years and sadly, the layout was retired...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Kindie Christmas

It's the day that's been over 20 years in the making. Really. A couple of tracks from "A Kindie Christmas" date from the late '80's and like a good fruitcake have been properly aged to perfection.

OK, I can't believe I just wrote that either.

Despite bad analogies we think you may like our new album.

"moves from cool to super cool" - Boston Children's

"The album is a genuine gem of Christmas tunes - all original, some more Christmas than others, fantstic sounds throughout. It was worth the 20 years wait. Well done, 'Waders, one and all!" - A Christmas Yuleblog

"'Wake Up'... may just be the best 2 minutes of rock-n-roll Christmas tunage ever" - Jeff @ OutWiththeKids blog

"The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines childlike as “Like or befitting a child, as in innocence, trustfulness, or candor.” I love this CD, so if that makes me childlike, then hand me another cookie, fill my milk glass and let me enjoy the tinsel & lights!" - Bongobells

"It's relentlessly upbeat" - Mistletunes

"In something of a stylistic tour de force, The Hipwaders deliver a brilliant, if somewhat brief, set of original rock songs to celebrate the season. Candy! A Kindie Christmas is clever fun!" -

"Ten breezy tracks of hip holiday fun" - Jeff Giles, "

See, there's some believers already!

Really there's no real way of convincing you unless you check out the music, right? So, why don't you check out "Wake Up" animated by Santa's little helpers over at Planet Sunday...

Here's a preview of our coming attraction:

Want to hear more? Check out the samples over here:

The Hipwaders: A Kindie Christmas

or purchase through

We'll be back with more videos throughout the holiday season, so stay tuned and visit our YouTube channel for all of our videos!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bonobo Joe & The Voodoo Queen

Happy Hallooween Hip Kids!

Here's a demo of a new song we recorded in our garage for you to enjoy. It's the "true" story of "Bonobo Joe & The Voodoo Queen". Get it now cuz it's gonna be gone after Halloween...

The Hipwaders - "Bonobo Joe & The Voodoo Queen"

Here's us performing it live at the Western Railway Museum's Pumpkin Patch:

If you've been hearing "What's That Noise?" on Kids Place Live (XM Channel 116), here's what "that noise" sounds like live (and keep requesting the song!):

...and now for something completely different:

Have a fun Halloween and keep in touch with us on Facebook! We'd love to hear your comments, ideas and requests.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Preview of our Coming Attraction

In a little over a week our Christmas CD, "A Kindie Christmas", will officially be released. Here's a preview of what one can expect from the album. It's for the song, "Santasploitation". It should answer any questions you may have.

Or perhaps not.Brian Clarke's amazing artwork.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tricycle Music Fest West

The first annual Tricycle Music Fest West occurred October 10th on the steps of the Main Library in San Francisco. First off let me say what an amazing library this is. I'm used to the libraries in the podunk towns I'm more apt to utilize. Next, security is tight. I'm not sure why, but it is the civic center area of downtown San Francisco where many a famous protest has taken place and is home to the many odiferous downtrodden of the city.

More importantly, it was the site of the first Bay Area kid music festival - that I know of. It kicked off to an appropriate start with Charity Kahn and her amazing JAMband. Stellar musicianship along with Charity's unique ability to engage children to participate in her "music & movement" proved irresistable.

Frances England then brought her band out to perform her brilliantly perfect folk/pop gems that appeal to her preschool fans as well as her adult fans who may be even more enamored with her music.

The Devilettes brought their Pipsqueak A-Go-Go show and got the little ones and their parents go-go dancing to long forgotten dances of the '60's. It was great to hear the Time-Outs' "Pipsqueak A-Go-Go" theme song coming out of the speakers in anticipation of their show later that afternoon.

Our band, The Hipwaders, performed next but more about that later...

After us, The Time-Outs brought out their '60's Frat Rock sound - think "Wooly Bully". Their originals e.g. "Scooter Cats" & "Bathtime (is Party Time)" have "that" sound that makes for FUN kids music. They had terrific taste in covers (in my book) as proven by their choices in performing Jonathan Richman's "I'm A Little Airplane" and The Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird". They'd be first to admit they have no shame and that folks, makes for mighty fine entertainment!

Now we can't evaluate our own performance as that'd be ridiculous. You'll have to go elsewhere for that. However, we can say we had a blast and were fortunate to have Charity Kahn come out and help us sing the theme to "Sesame Street" and Frances England came out and sang her own "Books I Like to Read" as we backed her. Unfortunately, our show was marred by our a poor vocal mix (nobody's mic was as loud as mine!) so I'm unable to post any videos from those performances.

I am able to post these videos (although Zooglobble beat me to the punch!) even though drummer Nick's harmonies are still mixed way too low.

Lastly, we wish to thank Christy Estrovitz and the entire staff at the SF Library for hosting the show for the people of the Bay Area. Libraries ROCK!

The Hipwaders performing "Educated Kid"

The Hipwaders performing "Stand Up to the Bully"

The Hipwaders performing "Goodie Bag (excerpt)"

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Have a Cool Yule Comic(al) Christmas

When I was ten years old I traveled alone to Quito, Ecuador, to spend a summer with my relatives. After a few weeks of hearing & reading nothing but Spanish I began craving English. I wanted to hear it, see it, read it. I found it to be the strangest craving I’ve ever had. I quickly found that imported English-language comic books satisfied that need. It’s true that comic books are a kid’s best friend.

As an insecure, semi-neurotic kid, one would think I’d have a natural attraction to superhero comics. Actually, I found them kind of silly and difficult to get into as I felt I was dropped into the middle of a storyline due to their self-referential nature (*see issue #148!).

I found Archie comics to be much more interesting. Here were several people that acted like a family (of which I missed back in California) and they played in a band. Being the huge Beatles, Monkees, Jackson 5 and Partridge Family fan, I was a sucker for any story lines involving a band.

Jump to the present time and I’m surfing the net looking for something/anything to keep me in the Christmas mood while my band, The Hipwaders, records our Christmas album. Very few things can give one the feeling of Christmas while the weather is warming up and Spring is blooming all around.

I come across something called Cool Yule Comics and I’m instantly intrigued. Why, there’s this fellow named George Broderick Jr. who’s drawn some Christmas-themed comics involving a female superhero named “Christmas Eve” and she looks like she could have stepped out of an Archie Comic parallel universe with her Betty/Veronica looks!

I quickly order the package deal which includes 3 comic books and relieved to find the first book has the “origins” storyline of Christmas Eve. Everyone knows that the most interesting storyline for any superhero is the “origin” story. The fact that she’s a superhero doesn’t even bug me as it’s a Christmas tale and Christmas is the best make-believe world there is.

Now, George has not only come up with a great character, he’s come up with lots of great characters with witty, intelligent dialog and story lines. These are family-oriented tales that kids AND grownups can enjoy together on different levels. There’s funny stuff that only the parents will get and that’s the stuff that’ll get the parents reading to their kids. I instantly found a kindred spirit in George when it came to entertaining kids. The Hipwaders have always felt that family-oriented art - art that brings all family members together - be it music, literature or visual art, is truly the key to the best entertainment for kids. After all, if it doesn’t appeal to the adults, there’s a good chance it will never be seen or heard by kids.

So, check out George’s Cool Yule Comics. You can even see pages in E-Book form. The actual hard-copy books are very colorful and printed on quality paper – much better quality than what I was used to as a kid. If you’re looking for a new way to get yourself AND your kids into the holiday spirit, get yourself over to Cool Yule Comics and purchase some Christmas joy.

We thought so much of George’s work we asked if he’d do us the honor of using a song from our forthcoming Christmas CD, “A Kindie Christmas” and apply it to a slideshow of his Christmas comic book art. He did. So here’s The Hipwaders with George Broderick Jr.’s art…

"Yes, It's Christmas"

If you're interested in The Hipwaders' album, "A Kindie Christmas", it will be released officially on November 3rd, 2009. If you're the impatient type and want to hear the songs now , go HERE.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back-to-School with The Hipwaders

It's that time of year again when you're putting on those new clothes Mom bought for the first day of school and the kids from "last year" look a little different - older - than they did just a couple of months ago. An unfamiliar classroom, a teacher you're not sure about yet and a whole new routine that feels uncomfortable.

We thought we'd help you out by give you a couple of songs that have that familiar Hipwaders sound but perhaps they too seem a little different.

We recorded these songs in our garage with less than professional equipment but still tried to make it sound as good as possible for the money spent. Which was none. O.k., I did have to waste a few blank cds trying to get the mixes right as possible.

First up is our version of "Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?"

We've been playing this song for a while and Hipwader Nick sings it. He actually sings a song off our forthcoming Christmas disc, too. It's a fun song to play.

Next up is our version of Frances England's, "The Books I Like to Read".

We've also been playing this song for a while and there's a live version of us on YouTube playing this but the sound & video quality is kinda lame but it also kinda rocks.

So download these songs onto your MP3 player and chill out on the bus/car/dirigible during your ride to school and ignore that big kid giving you the stink eye.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Adolph Adam: Birthday Boy

It was just like Christmas when AM Radio broadcast it's first piece of music. Well, actually, it really was. Christmas Eve, 1906 was the first time that music was broadcast on the radio.

Reginald Fessenden was a brilliant Canadian inventor who got his start working for Thomas Edison and through his life received hundreds of patents in radio, sonar and television. After demonstration of a new alternator-transmitter at his transmitting station in Brant Rock, Massachusetts, a few days earlier, "Fezzie" (as he was called) broadcast the first radio show at 9pm on December 24th, 1906.

Fezzie laid down some smooth patter (unknown if he sounded like Wolfman Jack) and then had to read some bible verses after his wife and secretary got mic fright which resulted in the first case of "dead air" on the radio. Besides
playing Edison's cylindar recording of Handel's "Largo", Fezzie pulled out his violin, and, in the first "live on the radio" performance played, "O Holy Night".

Reportedly, the main audience for this first ever radio show was a number of shipboard radio operators along the Atlantic Coast. This landmark broadcast was barely noted and soon forgotten. Ouch! I guess Fezzie wasn't much of a violinist. Or perhaps his over-use of sound effects and gimmicks such as slide-whistle, bike horn and his incessant, "What's up, New England?!", was a listener turn off. In any event, I can't think of a better tune than "O Holy Night" to be the first song ever performed live on the radio.

"O Holy Night" is a righteous tune that I previously expressed my admiration for and wrote about (see December 24th, 2008 post). It was composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to accompany the French poem, "Minuit, Chretiens" which I think might mean, "One Minute, You Cretins" or "Midnight, Christians". I'm not really sure as I don't read or speak French.

Today is Adolphe Adam's birthday and I really think the guys deserves a salute. Besides writing one of the most beautiful melodies in the world, he's well-known for his Operas (e.g. "Si J'Etais Roi), and (besides, "O Holy Night"), most notably his ballet, "Giselle".

Young Adolphe preferred to improvise music rather that study seriously. He studied organ and harmonium at the Paris Conservatoire. After playing triangle in the Conservatoir Orchestra and not winning the Grand Prix de Rome, his father discouraged his choice of a music career. Many students since have realized the lack of potential stardom from playing triangle. However, Adolphe got the last laugh after making a name for himself in the music world as a composer. It's a lesson to be learned that proficient technical skills on an instrument won't neccessarily put money in your pocket. Adolphe learned that you've got to write a hit.

I wonder if he maintained his own publishing?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T." or "Extracurricular Tito" (Part Two)

One of my favorite things about being a kids/family music performer is that I get to meet a lot of other like-minded performers. Eric Herman has taken advantage of this and frequently meets and records other performers during his travels. Last year I had the privilege of getting a call from Ava Scofield who records under the name Ava & The Mystic Mangos. Ava told me she found out about me from a young girl that had sang on her previous album who stated that The Hipwaders were her favorite band. Easily swayed by flattery, I quickly agreed to Ava's request to sing on the album she was currently recording. It was the most difficult but thrilling vocal experience I've ever had. I would never consider myself "singer" but more of a vocal "stylist" and with that mindset tried to fit my voice to her music. Her music was performed by top-caliber jazz, classical, blues and pop musicians and I understood that I couldn't slack through the recording session. Ava was a great musical director and would ask me to sing phrases a multitude of ways. It really opened my eyes of what I was actually capable of doing with some direction and try to use that experience when I sing now.

Ava's album, "Jam 'n' Jive", covers the world of a child of earth - from the smallest bug to the great Blue Whale. You can check out my goofy vocal contribution on the interactive title track, or a more "serious" me on my favorite track, "Sailin' With a Whale". I love her "Sowbug" song that goes from gentle nursery rhyme to trip hop and back. The song grooves and grooves hard. The album peaks with a bunch of amazing young singers trading lines on the kid-empowerment song, "Millions of Voices". In a world of overly auto-tuned crap like the Jonas Brothers and other you-name-it Disney acts, it's refreshing to hear young talents that can actually sing.

Check out samples from Ava's album at CDBaby

A while back my boys were telling me they wanted to have their own webcast which suprised me as they rarely sing, act or otherwise perform when asked. I figure they got the idea from one of their favorite T.V. shows, iCarly, and saw that it could be a lot of fun.
Within a few days of them asking, I came across Gwyneth Butera's daughters' (The Gooney Bird Kids) "webcast", "The GBK Zoo". Featuring kid music reviews, cooking, and some random dancing, the show was a hit with my boys. I was quickly motivated to head out to the garage and see if I could could up with some music specifically for the show. Inspired by the Gooney Bird Kids and their exhuberant antics, I was able to write and record a 30 second theme for the show and quickly sent it out to them. They've used it on their last 4 shows and I love the way the vocal and instrumental versions weave in and out of the show. Right now the show is on hiatus as the gang is vacationing in France. Meanwhile check their show out GBKZoo and perhaps when they get back we'll have a "GBKLourve" episode. Sorry, I couldn't resist...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T." or "Extracurricular Tito" (Part One)

"Take a while to laugh and smile and say, 'Hey, what a ride!'"

That's what Eric Herman sings on his latest CD release, "What A Ride!", and he couldn't be giving out better advice. "What A Ride!" is a sweet ride that goes from the existential to the absurd and finds humor in the mundane.

My family was fortunate to have Eric and his family as a house guest last year during one of his tours through the country and I gained some insight into the Endres family and what makes the world of "Eric Herman" keep spinning.

Eric and his wife, Roseann, are truly partners in his music. Besides acting as a sounding-board for his ideas, Roseann is also a lyricist, artist and animator. His daughters are his muses who are very enthusiastic about their father's music - as they should. The family is able to travel and enjoy "the ride" together - something that many of us can only dream of.

While staying with us, Eric asked me to say a few phrases into his recorder and even cajoled my son, Aidan, into speaking into his microphone - a very hard task I've rarely been able to accomplish since his was a toddler. Our "work" appears on his CD and I love seeing Aidan's name and mine together on the same album.

Back when Aidan was a toddler, he had no problem talking or singing into a microphone but once he started grade school he seemed to become a bit self-conscious. He sang on my first "kid/family" album, "The Smile Project", which was cool, but my favorite recording of him and I was a cover we did in 2001 of Blue Oyster Cult's "Go Go Godzilla". I had a blast grabbing bits of dialog from old Godzilla movies and we created a tribute to the movies that Aidan loved at the time. Check it out:

"GO GO GODZILLA" - Aidan & Tito Uquillas be continued...