Open Up Those Notebooks: Bear Hunt–The Movie Is One Of This Year’s Best New DVD’s For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Jamhouse Records

Courtesy: Jamhouse Records

Two years ago when it released its album Bear Hunt, kindie-rock band Josh and the Jamtones surprised a lot of people. That is because the album, which was released without the backing of any record label, proved to be one of the best new children’s albums of the year. It also proved to be just as entertaining for adults. It proved to be so entertaining for so many audiences because of its originality and creativity. Even within the kindie-rock world, no other act had released an album anything like Bear Hunt. The band took one of the most famous and beloved campfire “songs” of all time in the album’s title work and completely turned it on its ear with a wonderfully entertaining group of sketches. The sketches in question were interspersed with a number of equally entertaining songs proving unquestionably exactly why Bear Hunt was (and still is today) one of the best albums both for children and adults alike. Now the Boston-based quintet has followed up the success of that album with an equally entertaining release in its new DVD Bear Hunt: The Movie. Bear Hunt: The Movie is so entertaining first and foremost simply for the fact that it did exactly what so many fans of Josh and the Jamtones had hoped for. It brings to life (so to speak) the story presented on the band’s 2013 album. Its stylistic approach is more than any fan could hope to see. The use of the hand crafted puppets and backdrops together makes for its own entertainment value. The look of the puppets and backdrops couples with Josh and Patrick’s own performances make the sketches all the more entertaining and in turn the DVD itself that much more worth the watch. The sketches that lie at the heart of Bear Hunt: The Movie more than make the band’s new DVD worth the watch with their look and acting. Just as noteworthy are the companion music videos that round out the DVD. The videos that complement Bear Hunt: The Movie make it even more worth the watch. They include songs both from Bear Hunt: The Album and from the band’s other works. The combination of their fun sound and equally entertaining look rounds out the reasons that any family should check out this DVD. Whether for the videos or for the sketches, both parts of this DVD make it a great addition to any family’s home library. The elements tied into the sketches and videos (their look and sound) make the DVD even more worth the purchase. And when they are all taken into consideration together, they prove Bear Hunt: The Movie to be an early candidate for this year’s list of the best new DVDs for children and families.

The companion to its full-length 2013 album Bear Hunt, Josh and the Jamtones’ new DVD Bear Hunt: The Movie is an easy, early candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families. The central reason that it is so deserving of this honor is the quartet of sketches that were lifted directly from the band’s album. They are stylistically everything for which fans had hoped after hearing them two years ago on Bear Hunt: The Album. The design of the characters’ puppet figures and backdrops in each sketch are themselves unlike anything that any other kindie-rock act is using today. It is difficult to fully put into words just how that look makes the sketches so enjoyable. Audiences will understand when they watch the sketches for themselves. Audiences can get a glimpse of one of the sketches online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHwovF_zCzY. The understanding of the song gained in watching just this skit will lead any viewer to agree fully as to why the primary sketches included on Bear Hunt: The Movie more than make their own reason to pick up the whole DVD.

The look of the sketches that lie at the heart of Bear Hunt: The Movie on its own more than makes this DVD a welcome addition to any family’s home library. The acting on the part of Josh and Patrick adds even more enjoyment to the sketches and even more reason for any family to add this DVD to its home library. What audiences get in Josh and Patrick’s performance isn’t just a couple of guys handling cardboard string puppets. The puppets themselves have been rather intricately designed for maximum suspension of disbelief. The duo’s different reactions portrayed in each of the sketches makes the pair’s acting even more believable and in turn entertaining. Josh’s outrageous reaction in being told about the single, child sized bed in the duo’s room, the duo’s comic timing in its discussion about Josh’s purple teddy bear, and the guys’ eventual meeting with the “evil scary bear” all prove this argument. Each moment will leave adults laughing just as *ahem* ferociously as their younger counterparts. Yes, that bad pun was fully intended. That laugh riot acting in each of the sketches makes each one entertaining in its own right. And taken into consideration with the look of the skits, both elements show plenty of reason for ay family to add this DVD to its ow home library.

The central skits that make up Bear Hunt: The Movie and their incorporated elements–their look and comic acting–make for plenty of reason for any family to add Bear Hunt: The Movie to its own home DVD library. For all of the enjoyment offered by these elements, there is still more to note in regards to what makes this DVD so enjoyable for audiences of all ages. Just as worth noting as the aforementioned elements are the music videos that accompany the skits. The music videos in question come from both songs included on Bear Hunt and from the band’s previous works. Among those songs/videos included from Bear Hunt: The Album were: ‘Fill It Up,’ ‘Snow Day,’ and ‘Swing Low,’ which opens the album. ‘The videos for ‘John Jacob,’ ‘Jump Up!,’ and ‘Iko Iko’ are new additions to the DVD. All three of those songs were taken from the band’s 2012 album Jump Up. There’s just as much to say about these videos as the sketches that sit at the heart of the DVD. The videos themselves make a great introduction to Josh and the Jamtones’ music for anyone that might not be so familiar with the band’s music. The laid back groove of ‘Fill It Up’ coupled with its simple, positive lyrics is just one example of why the videos make for a great introduction. Front man Josh Schrieber sings about spreading the love and “filling up” the world with love. It’s a great message. And coupled with the song’s video, it becomes an even stronger example of what makes this band so great. The look of the video (and the other videos) will be discussed later. For now, the focus will remain on the songs themselves. Getting back to that, the video for ‘Iko Iko’ presents yet another great tune from one of the greatest family acts out there today. Audiences will be interested to know that this is actually a cover song. It was originally written and recorded by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford.” It was made even more famous in 1965 by a group known as The Dixie Cups. Through some research, the song’s words translate roughly to, “Listen listen!/Listen listen at the rear/It’s very good at the rear/It’s a very good year.” The lyrics are a mix of Louisiana Creole and Native American. It’s interesting considering the song’s history. Regardless, the rendition performed here is still a fun piece. And then there is the band’s original work ‘Snow Day.’ Considering all of the snow that has been pounding the Northeast and Midwest this year, it’s a fitting song for any family in those regions. Most of the song centers on the joy that kids feel at having a snow day but then throws a curveball in the mix. That curveball won’t be given away for those that haven’t heard it. though it can be said that the evil scary bear makes an appearance in the video. The song’s video was recently released online and can be viewed online via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHwovF_zCzY. Getting on the topic of the videos themselves, the varied look of the videos makes them even more of a bonus.

The videos that accompany the Bear Hunt sketches on Bear Hunt: The Movie are a huge positive to the presentation simply for the fact that they make for a great introduction to those not so familiar with Josh and the Jamtones’ musical body of work. This is especially the case being that some of the videos included on the DVD are companion pieces to songs included on Bear Hunt: The Album. The look of the videos makes them even more of a positive. None of the videos included on the DVD look like one another. The video for ‘Iko Iko’ is a lyric video while the video for ‘John Jacob’ is a wonderfully entertaining work that stands out stylistically from any other animated music video or even cartoon out there. Hand crafted or not, it is next to impossible to tell if it was crafted by hand or by computer. That is a testament to those responsible for bringing this video to life. The video for ‘Swing Low’ presents Josh and the Jamtones in a live setting, giving audiences a glimpse into the band on the road. And the companion video to ‘Snow Day’ is something that cannot be explained in words. it must be seen to be understood. Again that video is available online now from the band on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHwovF_zCzY. The simplicity of front man Josh Schrieber singing ‘Fill It Up’ against footage of the band’s “HQ” being established is just as entertaining. Whether it be these videos or the accompanying video for ‘Jump Up!,’ the various styles of the videos and the positive messages contained within the songs shows clearly why the videos that are included as part of Bear Hunt: The Movie are just as important to its success as the sketches at the DVD’s center. All together all of these elements prove Bear Hunt: The Movie to be a must have for any family and one of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families.

Bear Hunt: The Movie boasts plenty of positives as has already been noted. The sketches that lie at the heart of the DVD make the DVD well worth the watch by themselves. The music videos that accompany the sketches add even more enjoyment to the DVD. That is thanks both to the band’s stylistic approach to the videos (and the sketches) and to the fun, overall content of each song and sketch. All combined, the sketches and videos that make up this DVD more than make it worth the purchase. They also combine to make it one of the year’s best new DVDs for children and families. It can be purchased at any Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant nationwide and can be ordered online direct from Josh and the Jamtones’ website at http://joshandthejamtones.com. It is also going to be made available as an app via the iTunes app store very soon. More information on this and other releases from Josh and the Jamtones is available online along with all of the latest news from the band at:

Website: http://joshandthejamtones.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoshTheJamtones

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheJamtones

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Josh And The Jamtones To Release Bear Hunt: The Movie Next Week

Courtesy:  Jamhouse Records

Courtesy: Jamhouse Records

Josh & The Jamtones will release brand new DVD Bear Hunt: The Movie next week.

The band announced this week that it will release its new DVD next Wednesday, January 21st via Jamhouse Records. It is the companion to the band’s independently released album Bear Hunt (2013). The DVD features four “real-time” animation clips of band members Josh Shriber and Pat Hanlin’s trek to find the fabled “evil scary bear” that lives on Bear Mountain. The sketches were written and performed by Shriber and Hanlin. Also featured on the DVD along with the sketches is a handful of music videos that are mixed in with the Bear Hunt! Story. The videos are both live action and animated.

Bear Hunt: The Movie will be available exclusively at participating Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants across the country. Along with selling the DVD in participating restaurants, the band’s partnership with Chuck E. Cheese’s sees the band being named a “featured band” for the nationally-known chain. This means that along with being able to purchase the band’s new DVD in-store, the band’s music videos and clips from the movie will be played at the restaurants’ in-store screens throughout the year. Shriber discussed the deal in a recent interview, noting the importance and significance of getting into one of the biggest kid-friendly restaurant chains in the country. “We’re so grateful for the opportunity to partner with such an awesome company,” he said. “Working with Chuck E. Cheese’s has given our little indie flick a real chance to be seen on a national and international level.” The movie was funded entirely via Kickstarter with a total funding of over $25,000 from some 136 backers.

As well as being available in participating Chuck E. Cheese’s in America and Canada, audiences will also be able to get Bear Hunt: The Movie online via iTunes, Amazon, and the band’s official website http://www.JoshandtheJamtones.com. More information on Bear Hunt: The Movie and the movie’s official trailer is also available online at http://www.BearHunttheMovie.com. More information on Josh and the Jamtones including its latest live dates and updates is available online at:

Website: http://www.JoshandtheJamtones.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoshTheJamtones

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shy Kid Blues Could Be A Candidate For One Of 2014’s Best New Children’s Albums

Courtesy:  Hullabaloo Music

Courtesy: Hullabaloo Music

In an age when audiences seem to be increasingly fickle in their musical tastes, any band that reaches anything more than three albums released should consider itself/himself/herself very lucky. For such bands, groups, or artists to reach eleven albums released is a landmark. It’s even more of a landmark for those that are classified under the children’s music genre. This Spring, the two-man act known as Hullabaloo will hit that landmark when it releases its eleventh full length album, Shy Kid Blues. The album is another great addition to the children’s music scene in 2014. The first reason for that is the album’s format. Those that have perhaps heard fellow children’s entertainers Josh and the Jamtones’ 2013 album Bear Hunt! will notice a similarity in the story-telling style of the album. Another reason the album is such a great addition to this year’s crop of children’s albums are the positive messages delivered through the story. And last but definitely not least is the album’s overall country/rockabilly style sound. The three factors noted here collectively make Shy Kids Blues a potential candidate to be one of this critic’s top ten new children’s albums of the year by year’s end. It’s still early. But it could end up on that list as enjoyable as it is.

The primary reason that Shy Kid Blues is such a great addition to this year’s crop of new children’s albums is its format. The format of this album is one of a story-telling nature. Those that have heard Josh and the Jamtones’ 2013 album Bear Hunt! will recognize that familiar story-telling format on this record, too. The difference is that whereas Josh and the Jamtones used a classic children’s poem/song as the basis for their album, Hullabaloo—Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer—have actually crafted a wholly original story in its latest release. Denyes and Kremer have crafted a story in Shy Kid Blues that follows two childhood friends as they grow up together and help each other overcome their own shyness and become who they always knew they could be underneath. That is another part of what makes this album such a great addition to this year’s crop of children’s albums. It will be discussed later. Getting back to the album’s overall story and format, the story itself is original. One could almost see this story playing out in its entirety in short form on screen. It almost begs to be made into a full story put to video. It would be an interesting story to see happen should anyone consider making it.

The story presented in Shy Kid Blues and the story’s format are together the foundation of this outstanding album. Sitting atop that solid foundation is another reason for this album’s ease of enjoyment. That reason is the album’s collective positive messages. Shy Kid Blues boasts at least two positive messages over the course of its two dozen songs. The positive messages embedded in the album’s story are messages of friendship and of self-confidence. The message of friendship is presented through the story of Steve and Brendan. The two boys were born mere weeks apart from one another. And while they were born so close together in time, they turned out to be two entirely different people.   One was really shy. The other was the total opposite. Interestingly enough, despite their differences, the two became fast friends when they got older. And they stayed friends well into their adult lives. They stayed friends because they didn’t let their differences keep them from being friends. Instead it made them stronger because they supported the other emotionally. This is a wonderful message for young listeners to take in. It shows true friendships can weather anything as long as friends don’t’ let their differences tear one another apart.

The second message presented in Shy Kid Blues is one of self-confidence. As the story progresses, listeners learn that as extroverted as he was, Brendan turned out to be very shy in his own way. He was afraid of singing in front of everyone . So Steve supported Brendan much the same way Brendan supported him. He told Brendan how great a singer Brendan was. Together, the two built each other. They helped one another believe more in themselves. This in turn helped their friendship to remain strong even into their adult years. It is yet another positive message presented by the real life Steve and Brendan. Together with the wonderful message of friendship, it proves once more why Shy Kid Blues is such a great addition to this year’s crop of new children’s albums.

The positive messages shared through Shy Kid Blues make this album all the more solid for listeners of all ages. Together with the story and its presentation style, it makes Shy Kid Blues all the more solid an album. There is still one more factor in this album that makes it such a great addition to this year’s crop of new children’s albums. That final factor is the album’s musical styling. Shy Kid Blues largely boasts a country/rockabilly sound throughout the course of its two dozen total tracks. There are some tracks that move a bit more to the left of center. But by and large, the album’s sound is more centered in country and rockabilly. Making the sound even more enjoyable is that the songs that boast a more country vibe are more along the lines of classic country. Listeners more familiar with the world of classic country can hear influences from the likes of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and even Hank Williams, Sr. to a lesser extent. Put simply, it is a great introduction to the world of country music for those wanting to initiate their young listeners into that world. So not only is it a way to entertain listeners, but it also serves as an introduction potentially to a whole new musical world. It is the last part of the whole that is Shy Kid Blues, proving once and for all why this album is not only another great addition to this year’s crop of new children’s albums, but also a potential candidate for this critic’s final year-end list of the year’s best new children’s albums.

Shy Kid Blues will be available Tuesday, May 27th. Audiences can order the duo’s new album via its website, http://www.hullabalooband.com and through CD Baby at http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/Hullabaloo. While there, audiences can check in on the band and get all of the latest news, tour updates and more from Hullabaloo, too. Audiences can also keep up with Hullabaloo via Facebook and Twitter at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hullabaloo/220028144692974 and http://twitter.com/hullabaloosteve. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.