The Banana Plant Expertly Mixes Music, Environmentalism On New LP

Courtesy: The Banana Plant, LLC

Typically, when one thinks of children’s music, one doesn’t generally think of the likes of The Banana Plant.  This Grammy nominated company recently released its sophomore release, Treasure Swamp:  A Pop Opera.  And for anyone that is looking for something away from the typical sing-a-long songs records that so many kids’ records are known for being, this new release is exactly that.

Treasure Swamp:  A Pop Opera is a kids’ record.  But it’s also a record that promotes environmental awareness without being preachy.  This record boasts music from across the pop spectrum.  There’s some pop, rock, blues, and even a touch of Zydeco, too.  The different musical genres aren’t just tossed across the record, either.  Each one is used to help identify the story’s different characters.  It’s a musical style somewhat along the lines of the famed opus, Peter and The Wolf.  For instance, the evil pirate and his monkey sidekick are identified with some really “mean” sounding guitars whenever he comes in.  Not only does the music help to identify certain characters, they expertly set each scene, letting audiences know the emotion of the characters.  One of the best examples of that is in the song , ‘Swamp Land.’  Petey and Pattie Possum solemnly sing of their pledge to defend the swamp against the evil, greedy pirate.  The response by Petey and Pattie’s friends in ‘Plan A’ gives an immediate sense of urgency and optimism at the same time.  By comparison, ‘Running Out of Ideas Blues’ does the job complete with an alligator that sounds strangely like jazz legend Louis Armstrong.  This balance of music and lyrics will keep both kids and adults alike listening to find out what happens with the swamp and its inhabitants throughout the course of the near hour long story.  The whole thing has a happy ending.  And audiences will laugh when they discover what happens to the evil pirate.

Treasure Swamp:  A Pop Opera is a wonderful piece of music both for kids and adults due to its overall construction.  That it ties in a message of conservation without being preachy makes the record all the better.  Far too often kids’ records are made with a very obvious intent.  In the case of this release, audiences aren’t being preached to.  Rather, they are being given an important message and being entertained at the same time.  Neither the entertainment nor the message of ecological preservation outweighs the other, making it out to be one fun record for the whole family.

The balance of music with an environmental message is expertly executed with this album.  The combination makes it a family friendly release.  What makes it even better is that as expertly as it is executed, it could just as easily be translated into a visual format.  It would be interesting to see this piece turned into a short, straight-to-DVD animated feature.  That makes Treasure Swamp:  A Pop Orchestra even better and more enjoyable.  One can only see if an animated companion piece will be made from it.  In the meantime, audiences can pick up the album in stores and online at  Audiences can also follow all the latest from The Banana Plant at and

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Disney’s Pocahontas Teaches Valuable Lessons To The World

Courtesy: Disney Studios/Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Disney’s Pocahontas has never enjoyed the success of the company’s other princess movies.  It’s given that the story takes great liberties with the actual story of Pocahontas and John Smith.  But there are many positives that come from those liberties being taken.  Those messages can be summed up in one sentence.  Despite the liberties taken with the original history of Pocahontas, this story is one that teaches lessons of love both for environment and for one another. 

The message of love for environment is one that has rung true for generations.  America has grown not just as a country over its two hundred plus years, but also in its population.  Urban sprawl has destroyed this country.  It has wiped out animals’ land.  And as shown in Pocahontas, this behavior has been happening ever since the introduction of Europeans to America.  Human greed for wealth and for land has destroyed mother Earth.  The movie’s hit song ‘Colors of The Wind’ tries to serve as a reminder of nature’s importance.  It makes reference to the sycamore tree, and the impact of cutting it down.  This theme of taking care of the planet comes throughout Walt Disney’s body of work during his life.  This work simply serves to continue that theme.

Pocahontas reminds viewers not only of love for the environment, but also for one another.  That message is one that rings true even today.  When the Europeans first came to the New World, a lack of understanding and acceptance on BOTH sides nearly led to all out war.  To this day, racial intolerance and inequality continues to scar the world’s populations terribly.  Pocahontas reminds viewers in its own way that we are all more alike than we are different.  We all have the same human needs.  Yet despite those needs and concerns, we continue to let our few differences cloud our better judgment, leading to so many potentially unnecessary conflicts.

Pocahontas may never be as fully respected as Disney’s other princess movies.  Unlike the company’s other princess movies, it isn’t a fairy tale.  It’s a reminder to the world of one of history’s most important figures.  It serves as a good starting point to get young audiences interested in history.  It’s also a reminder to the world of the positive differences love for one another and for the land can make.   Pocahontas is available along with its sequel Pocahontas II on a triple disc blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  It’s available in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct through Disney online at

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Documentarian’s latest release is a powerful reminder to the world

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

The latest release in documentarian and author Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s “Earth From Above” series–Food and Wildlife Conservation–is a powerful call to arms for viewers.  It’s one more warning and reminder of the problems being caused by increases in the world’s population, and the potential long-term impacts caused by mankind’ imbalance with Earth.

This latest installment of Bertrand’s series opens with the two part documentary, “6 Billion People to Feed.”  Audiences should be warined right off the bat that despite the “G” rating given to this documentary overall, the images shown during at least the first portion of “6 Billion People to Feed” may not be something that parents would want their children to see.  The images of what industrial farming involves are disturbing.  But they do hit home.  Bertrand discusses the mistreatment of animals in industrial farming operations, and how many of them are pumped with chemicals to help them grow faster.  There are also images of what is done to pigs in these operations. These images are especially disturbing.  Parents should be warned of this so as to protect their children from these images.

Of course, after that, the images are less graphic.  Yet the message sent is still as powerful.  Bertrand interviews a variety of individuals and reveals the use of chemicals (including pesticides) has caused an increase in birth defects in children, along with long-term health issues in adults, as well as miscarriages.  For example, pesticides used on banana plantations in one country have damaged the land so much that farming has become limited.  As a result of the limited farming availability, the people maintaining those lands are going bankrupt.  That’s because they can make no profit from crops.

A similar problem is seen on farmland in India.  Farmers have gone bankrupt because of the use of chemical pesticides and overuse of modern farming techniques.  The end result is that many farmers in this part of the world have actually taken their own lives under the strain of the financial prssure of bankruptcy.  This isn’t all that Bertrand notes in this new installment.  He also talks to citizens in another country whose water supply has allegedly become polluted with chemicals.  While both the people and the government of said country are both given their time, the allegation is made that the government is covering up the effect of pollutants in the nation’s water supply.  Similar cases are still going on right here in certain parts of the United States, as well.

The effects of man’s lack of balance with nature has an effect on more than just himself.  As Bertrand points out in the second part of his new documentary, “Do Wild Animals Still Exist.”  He goes into detail about how large groups of animals the world over are being wiped out and endangered as a result of practices that eliminate forest land and land in general.  It serves as a warning that mankind must make a change, and make it soon.  Otherwise, the scenarios pointed out could become far more commonplace.  There is still hope, of course.  But that hope must be reached for in the most concerted means possible.

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