Gordie MacKeeman’s Latest LP Is A Hit For The Whole Family

Courtesy: MAPL/innovationpei/MUSICPEI

Family music entertainer and veteran daycare worker Gordie “Crazylegs” MacKeeman writes in the liner notes for his forthcoming album, Folk for Little Folk Volume 1, “My vision for this project is to create something that will please all members of the family and allow families to listen together, dance together, and enjoy each other.”  It goes without saying that in listening to the 17-song record, he achieved that goal.  This is proven throughout the course of the album’s 40 minute record in the covers and originals.  One of the most notable of the covers comes early in the cover of ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain.’  It will be discussed shortly.  MacKeeman’s album closing lullabye, ‘Dreamland’ is another example of what makes this album so enjoyable.  It will be discussed a little later.  His cover of Wade Hemsworth’s ‘Log Driver’s Waltz’ is another example of how much this record has to offer audiences and will also be discussed later.  Each song noted here does its own share to make this record enjoyable.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole proves itself a presentation that lives up to MacKeeman’s expectations and those of his audiences.

Folk for Little Folk Volume 1 is an impressive new offering from family music entertainer and veteran daycare worker Gordie “Crazylegs” MacKeeman.  Its success is evident from beginning to end in each song, cover and original.  His take on the traditional ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain is just one example of that success.  MacKeeman is joined by famed performer Dom Flemmons (Carolina Chocolate Drops) on the bones for this song, which offers an upbeat arrangement that is even fuller than the original composed by Harry McClintock.  Where McClintock’s rendition is a simple presentation with just vocals and guitar, MacKeeman’s version is much more involved and more upbeat.  A close listen reveals that McKeeman’s wife is also featured here, offering some nice, subtle backing vocals.  The duo’s harmony works so well with the overall instrumentation to make this rendition just as good as the original if not better.  This is only a part of what makes the song work so well.  MacKeeman also updates the lyrics to a point for the 21st century, making mention of solid WiFi service, optional naptime and nonstop cartoons.  That addition, although minor, is a welcome touch to the song that will make it even more entertaining.  It is just one of the songs that shows how much this record has to offer audiences.  ‘Dreamland’ the album’s finale, is another notable addition to the record.

‘Dreamland’ is one of only three originals that MacKeeman features in his new album.  That aside, it is still enjoyable in its own right.  The nearly four-and-a-half minute composition (four minutes, 17 seconds to be exact) opens with a gentle piano line alongside an equally gentle, flowing fiddle line.  Almost immediately, the melody presented through the pairing lends itself to Kermit the Frog’s timeless ‘Rainbow Connection.’  This should not be misconstrued to mean that the songs are exactly the same.  It is just that they sound similar in their sound and stylistic approach.  To that end, it is certain to put a smile on any listener’s face.  Even more interesting is the eventual addition of Mr. and Mrs. MacKeeman’s vocals to the mix.  Jillian’s gentle operatic presentation gives the song a special, magical touch while Gordie’s vocals meanwhile lend themselves to comparison to that of Willie Nelson as he sings Kermit’s famous song.

In terms of the song’s lyrics, the gentle statement that “It’s time for bed/my little one” from Mr. MacKeeman is so relaxing.  Additionally, his statement of the child being in “a happy place” That added spiritual message of loved ones coming to visit the child from heaven in his/her dreams is another unsuspectingly powerful statement even in its simplicity.  When all of this is considered collectively, there should be not a single dry eye.  It is that moving.  Anyone who is not moved by this powerful finale is either not human or has no emotions.  It is just that enjoyable.  Even with all of this in mind, it is not the last of the album’s standout songs.  MacKeeman’s cover of Wade Hemsworth’s ‘Log Driver’s Waltz’ is another example of how much this record has to offer audiences.

MacKeeman’s rendition of ‘Log Driver’s Waltz’ is unique in the changes that he, his wife and fellow musicians make to the original.  The original composition is a simple presentation, driven by vocals and guitar.  In the case of this song, the layered vocals pair with the richness in the accordion and guitar to give the song an enjoyable update.  Interestingly, the use of the accordion and guitar collectively gives the song more of a Celtic sense than anything Canadian (which it is at its roots).  Keeping that in mind, MacKeeman and company’s rendition becomes even more unique and no less enjoyable.  As a matter of fact, it can be argued that it is even better than the original.  That is not to say that Hemsworth’s original is bad.  Rather it is quite enjoyable.  This version just steps things up and gives the song a whole new identity.  It is definitely a memorable addition to the album, regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the song.  When this song is considered with the others examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album one of the best of this year’s new family music albums and new bluegrass/country/folk/Americana offerings.

Gordie “Crazylegs” MacKeeman’s forthcoming album Folk for Little Folk Vol. 1 is an impressive new offering from the family music entertainer and daycare teacher.  It is a presentation that easily meets his expectations and will meet those of audiences.  That is proven from the album’s opener to its gentle finale.  The originals and covers alike fully display the talents of MacKeeman, his wife, and their fellow musicians and their respect for the music.  All things considered, the record proves itself to be among the best of this year’s family music albums and bluegrass/country/folk/Americana records.

Folk for Little Folk Volume 1 is scheduled for release Friday through MAPL/innovationpei/MUSICPEI.  More information on the album is available along with all of Gordie McKeeman’s latest news at:

Website: https://gordiemckeeman.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rhythmboys

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gordiemackeeman

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

Through The Woods Is Another Grand Musical Journey From The Okee Dokee Brothers

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

The Okee Dokee Brothers are not technically brothers. But the duo (Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander) may as well be brothers after having spent as much time together as they did for their latest album Through The Woods and its predecessor Can You Canoe? Lansing and Mailander actually hiked the Appalachian Trail for Through The Woods, the duo’s second “adventure album” and fifth album overall. This after the men had already paddled their way down the Mississippi River together for their 2012 album Can You Canoe? All of that time together has led to some of the best music that The Okee Dokee Brothers have crafted to date in this new record. Through The Woods is an album that celebrates what North Carolina musician David Holt calls “Mountain Music” in his interview included in the bonus DVD included with the album. That DVD will be discussed at length later. The music itself is the key point of success to the album’s enjoyment. Anyone that is a fan of bluegrass and Appalachian music will thoroughly enjoy every song on this record. Also making the whole experience more enjoyable for audiences is the booklet included with the double-disc album. Together with the music and bonus DVD, it rounds out an album that has not only taken the top spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums, but also the year’s best new albums overall.

The Okee Dokee Brothers’ second adventure album is also a double winner in the eyes (and ears) of this critic. It has currently taken the top spot on this critic’s list of both the year’s best new children’s albums and the year’s best new albums overall. What’s truly interesting about such status is that in listening to Through The Woods, audiences wouldn’t even think of The Okee Dokee Brothers to be children’s entertainers. That’s because the “mountain music” that makes up the album will appeal both to parents and children alike. It’s not just the standard children’s album. It really is a family album and an album for anyone that is a fan of Appalachian/mountain music (as guest musician David Holt calls it). Some of the songs included on the album are originals while others are more familiar such as the classic ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain.’ In other cases such as ‘Jamboree’ and ‘Fiddlestick Joe’, Lansing and Mailander took ‘Swing and turn Jamboree’ ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ and used them as the basis for their own semi-new pieces. If the songs themselves aren’t enough to entice listeners to check out this record, maybe the guest spots will help convince said audiences to give it a chance.

Through The Woods is a wonderful album not just for children but for adults, too. That’s first and foremost because of its music. It is clear that it isn’t aimed just at children. In the same vein, older audiences will recognize the likes of David Holt, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, and Hubby Jenkins of the Carolina Chocolate Drops on this record. The inclusion of older musicians, music, and lyrical themes that are aimed more at general audiences than specifically at children goes even farther to prove just how enjoyable this record is for listeners of all ages. It serves to show that Lansing and Mailander are perhaps branching out of their niche realm without alienating the parents and children that they entertained early on. It’s even more reason to applaud this album.

The music and special guest appearances on the album’s songs collectively create a solid foundation for Through The Woods. That foundation having been established, Lansing and Mailander make their latest album even more enjoyable for audiences thanks to the inclusion of a bonus companion DVD that comes with the CD. The album’s bonus DVD documents the journey undertaken by Lansing and Mailander. Along the course of their trip, the men interview a number of individuals who share the history of Appalachian/Mountain Music in their given region. As noted previously, well-known North Carolina musician David Holt is one of those individuals. He makes the interesting statement that he prefers to call Appalachian music “Mountain Music.” That’s because as he puts it, it encompasses the music of every region along the Appalachian Trail. It makes sense. The other interviews featured through the pair’s journey are just as interesting as they come from ordinary people that live along the trail. Audiences will be able to relate to these average, every day figures. And because of that ability to relate, audiences will enjoy the presentation even more.

The documentary following the Okee Dokee Brothers included on the album’s bonus DVD is a wonderful addition to the disc. It’s not all that the bonus DVD offers audiences. The Okee Dokee Brothers sweeten the deal even more by including their album in its entirety on the DVD, too. So not only do listeners get to hear Through The Woods on CD, they also get to hear it on DVD. It makes the bonus DVD that much more of a true bonus and welcome companion to the album. It seals the deal for this album that justifiably deserves to be called the best children’s album of the year so far and the best new album overall so far this year.

The album and its companion DVD presented to audiences in this set go a long way toward making Through The Woods a wonderfully grand musical journey for audiences.  There is still one more aspect of the album that deserves to be noted that plays a positive role in the grand scheme of things.  That last aspect is the album’s companion booklet.  The booklet includes specific thoughts on each of the album’s songs from Lansing and Mailander and little doodles that accompany each one.  Their thoughts are both enlightening and entertaining.  They playfully comment about an 11-year old musician that in the liner notes for ‘Out Of Tune’, joking that he could eat his own body weight in banana pudding.  They actually interview the boy and his siblings in the companion DVD.  So audiences will get to hear from each of them, too.  It’s not all that audiences will get from the album’s liner notes.  Audiences will also be surprised to learn that one member of the Okee Dokee Brothers actually grew up learning how to play banjo thanks to instructional videos from North Carolina’s own David Holt.  These are but a pair of examples of what makes the liner notes to this album a rare treat.  And together with everything else mentioned, audiences will see more clearly than ever just why Through The Woods more than deserves to be on any critic’s annual “Best Of” lists.

Through The Woods will be available Tuesday, May 20th. The Okee Dokee Brothers are currently touring in support of the album. The duo is scheduled to perform live next Saturday, May 17th at Black Bear Crossings in St. Paul, Minnesota. That show is sold out. However, tickets are still available for the duo’s other upcoming shows. The Okee Dokee Brothers’ current tour schedule is available online at http://www.okeedokee.org. Audiences can also go to http://www.okeedokee.org to keep up with all the latest news from The Okee Dokee Brothers. Fans can also follow the duo on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/okeedokeebros. 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.

The Okee Dokee Brothers Release Details For New Album

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music/Redeye

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music/Redeye

Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander (a.k.a. The Okee Dokee Brothers) return this Summer with their brand new album.

Through The Woods, the duo’s second adventure album, will be released Tuesday, May 20th. It will be released in a special CD/DVD combo pack for SRP of $19.99. The album follows the duo’s journey along the Appalachian Trail and reflects the music that dominates the regions through which Lansing and Mailander crossed along their journey. It features guest appearances by some of the biggest names in  Americana and folk music including: Hubby Jenkins (Carolina Chocolate Drops), four-time Grammy award winner David Holt (Doc Watson/O Brother, Where Art Thou?), Rosie Newton, and two-time Grammy award winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer.

The companion DVD that comes with Through The Woods includes a forty-minute film that documents Lansing and Mailander’s trek. It includes educational segments, bloopers from the duo’s trip, music videos, and interviews with local mountain musicians that the duo met along the course of its journey. All hiking, songwriting, and camping footage was filmed on location along the Appalachian Mountains. It features the music of David Holt, Elizabeth LaPrelle, and Sparky and Rhonda Rucker.

More information on Through The Woods and other Okee Dokee Brothers albums, along with tour news and more on The Okee Dokee Brothers is available online now at http://www.facebook.com/okeedokeebros and http://www.okeedokee.org. Through The Woods can be pre-ordered now through the Okee Dokee Brothers’ official online store at http://www.okeedokee.org and via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Through-Woods-Appalachian-Adventure-Album/dp/B00IKCLHPW/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1397260142&sr=1-2&keywords=The+Okee+Dokee+Brothers. 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.