The Okee Dokee Brothers Tops This Year’s Phil’s Picks Best New Family Music Albums List

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

Family music entertainers have, like acts in every other genre across the music universe, been adversely impacted this year by the global COVID-19 pandemic.  Their live plans have been put on hold for the foreseeable future.  In the same vein, while the pandemic has put a (hopefully) temporary hold on live music, it has not prevented acts within the realm to release new albums.  That means that a list of the year’s top new Family Music albums is just as qualified as that for any other genre.  This year’s list of top new Family Music albums features new titles from some of the most well-known names within the realm, including but not limited to this year’s list topper The Okee Dokee Brothers, Paul Winter, and Justin Roberts.  It also features some younger acts, such as Roger Day, Greg Lato, and Lindsay Munroe.  Between them and others, this year produced many enjoyable albums within the Family Music world. 

The list of this year’s best new records, offers the Top 10 new albums in the genre and five honorable mention titles, for a total of 15 albums.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Family Music Albums.


  1. The Okee Dokee Brothers – Songs For Singin’
  2. Alastair Mook & Friends – Be A Pain: An Album For Youn (And Old) Leaders
  3. Justin Roberts – Wild Life
  4. Red Yarn – Backyard Bop
  5. David Gibb & Brady Rymer – Songs Across The Pond
  6. Paul Winter – Light of the Sun
  7. Flor Bromley – Fiesta Global
  8. Lindsay Munroe – I Am Kind
  9. Joanie Leeds – All The Ladies
  10. 123 Andres – Hola Amigo
  11. Rolie Polie Guacamole – Avocado
  12. Roger Day – Invincible
  13. Sara Lovell – Night Life
  14. Greg Lato – Create My Own World
  15. Ants Ants Ants – Colors All Around

Next up from Phil’s Picks is the list of 2020’s Top 10 New Country/Bluegrass/Folk/Americana Albums.  Stay tuned for that.

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Recording Academy Announces “Best Children’s Music Album” Nominees

Courtesy: Sugar Mountain PR

The nominees for this year’s Best Children’s Album were announced this week.

The announcement for the Grammys category was made Tuesday. This year’s nominees for the “Best Children’s Music Album” are:

All The Ladies — Joanie Leeds

Be A Pain: An Album for Young (and Old) LeadersAlastair Mook and Friends

I’m An OptomistDog On Fleas

Songs For Signin’The Okee Dokee Brothers

Wild LifeJustin Roberts

Audiences can listen to a selection of songs from each nominee on a playlist culled on Spotify.

The 63rd annual Grammy Awards ceremony is scheduled to take place Jan. 31 on CBS. The winner of the “Best Children’s Music Album will be announced during a pre-show telecast, which will stream online here.

The full list of the nominees for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards ceremony is available along with all of the latest Grammy news at:




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Parents Will Appreciate Roberts’ New Album Just As Much As Children If Not More

Courtesy: Carpet Square/Sugar Mountain PR

Family entertainer Justin Roberts released his latest full-length studio recording late last month.  Wild Life, Roberts’ 14th solo recording, the album is a work that parents will appreciate just as much as their younger counterparts.  That is due in part to the album’s overall musical content, which will be discussed shortly.  The song’s lyrical content is just as admirable as its musical content.  The LP’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  When it is considered alongside the album’s other noted elements, the record’s presentation in whole makes it easily one of this year’s top new family music albums.

Justin Roberts’ new album Wild Life is one of this year’s most enjoyable new family music offering.  Released Feb. 28, the 10-song, 32-minute record offers plenty for audiences to appreciate, not the least of which being its musical content.  From the deeply emotional, to the light and uplifting, this celebration of parenthood presents nothing but enjoyment in its musical content.  That noted light, uplifting sound opens the album in ‘Heart Like A Door,’ the LP’s opener.  Roberts plays what sounds like either a ukulele or a mandolin as he sings about that love that a parent feels when holding a newborn baby.  What’s important to note here is that never once does Roberts allow the song’s arrangement to get so schmaltzy and saccharine sweet, that it becomes something cheesy.  Rather, the emotion is well-balanced, mirroring so well, what any parent feels in those early days of parenthood.  It is just one of the prime examples of how this album’s lyrical content makes it so appealing.  The arrangement at the center of ‘When You First Let Go’ is another example of the importance of the album’s musical content.  The song, finds its subject remembering the first time that his/her parent let go and let him/her ride a bicycle alone for the first time.  The deeper meaning in the song’s lyrical content will be addressed a little later, but in terms of its musical arrangement, this is one of the album’s more emotional moments.  It is so simple, with just Roberts, a guitar and what sounds like a flute.  Yet, even in that simplicity, Roberts and whomever else recorded the song alongside him crafted a song that creates so much emotion just in the arrangement.  It wastes no time tugging at the heartstrings, reaching deep into listeners’ hearts and minds.  The arrangement at the heart of ‘Hide and Seek’ mixes the album’s lighter and more emotional for one whole that will entertain and engage listeners just as much as any of the album’s any other works.  The addition of the harmonica to the arrangement conjures thoughts of Bob Dylan, especially considering the subtle use of the guitar throughout the song.  The whole of the song is just one more example of why this record’s arrangements are so important to its whole.  When it is considered alongside the rest of the album’s arrangements, the whole of that content does more than enough to make the album notable in whole.  That content is only one part of what makes the record so engaging and entertaining.  Its lyrical content adds to its appeal.

The lyrical content featured throughout this album is so important to note because of its ability to connect with every parent.  ‘Heart Like A Door’ centers on a parent’s heart being always open and welcoming.  This is something to which any parent will relate without doubt.  ‘Maybe She’ll Have Curly Hair’ finds the song’s subject dreaming about what his/her daughter will look like after she is born.  It also talks about the kind of person that she will be as she grows up.  If this and the song’s companion arrangement doesn’t draw a tear from a parent, that parent is either hard –hearted or just not human.  ‘When You First Let Go,’ as addressed earlier, is one of the album’s most notable entries in part because of its deeply emotional musical arrangement.  Its lyrical content adds even more depth to its presentation.  The song centers on a parent recalling the first time that his/her own parent(s) let him/her take off on a bicycle alone, after so much time with training wheels and parental help.  The reflection comes as that parent watches his/her own child go off on a bicycle alone, too.  What is important here is that on the surface is about letting that child ride alone.  However on a deeper level, Roberts makes those hints that this is about much more; letting go in general and letting the child grow up and develop a certain sense of independence.  The manner in which Roberts does this is impressive in its own right.  When it is coupled with the song’s arrangement, the whole of the song becomes one of the album’s highest peaks.  ‘Hide and Seek’ is another key example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  The song is a gentle reminder to children that “there ain’t nobody don’t want to be found.”  It’s him saying that everyone wants to be found and to be wanted.  The addition of the biblical reference of Moses adds even more depth to the song.  It really brings the song together and makes the song stand out even more.  When this is considered along with the engaging, that of the other songs noted here and that of the rest of the album’s songs, the content couples with the album’s musical content to show without doubt, why this record’s overall content more than makes the record in whole impressive.  The collective musical and lyrical content that makes up the body of Wild Life goes a long way toward making the album an enjoyable, memorable work.  The sequencing of that content puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation, cementing its place in this year’s pantheon of new family music lists.

The sequencing of Wild Life’s songs is so important because of the impact that the songs’ energies have in the bigger picture of the album’s appeal.  As already noted, the album opens gently with ‘Heart Like A Door,’ which creates the image of a parent holding a child for the very first time in the hospital, only hours after birth.  It starts so soft and gentle, but gradually picks up, with the parent feeling so happily overwhelmed with that love for his/her child.  The album’s energy pulls back from there in the almost dreamy ‘Maybe She’ll Have Curly Hair’ before picking back up at least a little bit in ‘I’ve Got The World (for You).’  Things pick up a little more as the album progresses into the light, bouncy ‘Glad You’re Here’ before pulling back yet again in ‘You Grew,’ which presents a parent looking back at his/her child growing up.  That deeply emotional pull continues into ‘When You First Let Go’ and ‘Ain’t No Way.’  Though, the energy in ‘Ain’t No Way’ isn’t as over the top emotional as that in its predecessor.  ‘Be Not Afraid’ is another reserved work, but it too gives way for something slightly more upbeat as the album makes its way into ‘Hide and Seek,’ albeit only slightly.  Roberts keeps the energy pulled back on the album’s closer, finishing things off just as lightly as they started.  Throughout the course of Wild Life’s body, the energy rises and falls just enough, illustrating expertly, the different thoughts and emotions that parents feel when they become parents.  That well-balanced energy joins with the positives of the songs’ musical and lyrical content to make the album in whole a work that new and longtime parents alike will enjoy just as much as their children.

Justin Roberts’ latest full-length studio recording Wild Life is a wonderful new offering from the veteran family entertainer that parents will appreciate just as much as children.  It is a work that in a time when families are so separated, will hopefully unite families with its songs about the love of parents for their children.  That lyrical content couples with the album’s musical content to make for an enjoyable, impressive whole.  The record’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation, rounding out the record’s whole.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this album.  All things considered, they make Wild Life an enjoyable new offering that will indeed appeal to parents as much as their children.  The album is available now.  More information on Wild Life is available online along with all of Justin Roberts’ latest news and more at:










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Justin Roberts Debuts ‘Glad You’re Here’ Video

Courtesy: Carpet Square/Sugar Mountain PR

Family entertainer Justin Roberts debuted the video for his latest single over the weekend.

Roberts debuted the video for his new single ‘Glad You’re Here‘ Friday.  The song is featured on Roberts’ latest album Wild Life, which is scheduled for release Feb. 28 through Carpet Square.

The video finds a young man talking to his unborn baby sibling as the baby grows in the mother’s womb, telling the child how excited everyone is about the baby’s pending arrival.  The song’s musical arrangement is a stable, mid-tempo work whose positive sounds illustrate the positive emotions presented in the song’s lyrical content.

‘Glad You’re Here’ is the second single from Wild Life.  Roberts debuted the album’s lead single ‘Heart Like A Door‘ last month.

Much like ‘Glad You’re Here,’ ‘Heart Like A Door’ also takes on the topic of parenthood with a new child.  It is a reflection of Roberts’ own recent experience of becoming a parent for the first time.

Roberts is joined on his forthcoming 15th full-length studio recording by Baroque cellist Anna Steinhoff, pianist Lisa Kaplan, percussionist Gerald Dowd and vocalist Nora O’Connor.

More information on Wild Life is available along with all of Roberts’ latest news at:






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Justin Roberts Debuts Lead Single From Forthcoming LP

Courtesy: Carpet Square/Sugar Mountain PR

Justin Roberts will release his new album Wild Life next month, and in anticipation, he debuted the album’s lead single this week.

Roberts debuted the song ‘Heart Like A Door‘ Friday.  The song, which clocks in at two minutes, 45 seconds, is featured in Roberts’ 15th full-length studio recording Wild Life.  The album is scheduled for release Feb. 28 through Carpet Square.

‘Heart Like A Door’ features a simple arrangement including Roberts on vocals and accompanied by a mandolin, violin and gentle tap of a drumstick on the rim of a snare drum.  The song’s chorus steps things up slightly, but not too much.  What sounds like a cello comes into play in the chorus to add to the arrangement’s impact.

Lyrically, the song is one of many about Roberts taking on parenthood with his newborn son.

Roberts is joined on his forthcoming 15th full-length studio recording by Baroque cellist Anna Steinhoff, pianist Lisa Kaplan, percussionist Gerald Dowd and vocalist Nora O’Connor.

More information on Wild Life is available along with all of Roberts’ latest news at:






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The Okee Dokee Brothers Lead The Herd In Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Children’s Albums List

Courtesy:  Okee Dokee Music

Courtesy: Okee Dokee Music

Children’s music has a terrible reputation in America.  The cause of that reputation is pretty easy to figure out.  Certain children’s shows such as *coughs* Barney and others have created that stereotype.  The reality of children’s music however, is that it is anything but what people believe it to be.  If anything, the world of Children’s music is one of the most diverse within the larger musical universe.  This year’s field of new children’s offerings is proof of that.  New offerings from the likes of the Okee Dokee Brothers, Niss Nina and the Jumping Jacks, Dr. Noize and others is proof of that.  Speaking of all of those artists, they are all on this year’s Phil’s Picks top new children’s albums.  They and so many others have made this list another tough one to compile.  But it has been done.

The Okee Dokee Brothers top this year’s list of top new Children’s albums with their new album Saddle Up.  Also included in the list are those new titles from Dr. Noize, and Miss Nina. Also on this year’s list are The Holow Trees, The Sugar Free All Stars, and The Not-Its among others.  As a reminder, Phil’s Picks lists feature the year’s Top 10 new albums plus five honorable mention titles for a total of 15 albums.  So without any further ado, here are the Phil’s Picks Top 10 New Children’s Albums.


1) The Okee Dokee Brothers – Saddle Up


2) The Not Its – Are You Listening


3) Dr. Noize – Phineas McBoof Crashes The Symphony


4) The Deedle Deedle Dees – Sing-a-Long History Volume 2


5) Vanessa Trien & The Jumping Monkeys – Wonderful You


6) The Whizpops – Ranger Rick’s Trail Mix


7) Sugar Free All Stars – Sugar Free All Stars


8) Liz De Roche – Club Called Awesome


9) Eric Herman & The Thunderpuppies – Bubble Wrap


10) Miss Nina & The Jumping Jacks – Every Day’s Your Birthday


11) Hulaballoo – I Chew


12) The Hollow Trees – Hello Friends


13) Recess Monkey – Novelties


14) Nathalia – When I Was Your Age


15) Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could – Press Play



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Oh My, The Ohmies’ New LP Is A Fun Family Record

Courtesy:  Ohmazing Tunes

Courtesy: Ohmazing Tunes

The world of children’s music is one of the most intriguing in the overall scheme of the music industry.  That is because of just how many truly original acts exist in the realm of children’s music today.  2013 alone has seen quite a few examples of that with new releases from the likes of Recess Monkey, Justin Roberts, and others.  Now, another children’s act by the name of The Ohmies (pronounced Oh-Meez) has broadened that field even more with its debut record, Morning Wish Garden.  The sextet’s new release is a fun and smart record that will impress listeners of every age.  The reason for that it is a multi-purpose record.  Not only does it entertain young listeners, but it also teaches healthy living.  These two factors taken into account, The Ohmies’ debut record is sure to be a hit with any parent of young children and said children.

Morning Wish Garden is another enjoyable addition to the already vast array of children’s albums that have been released so far this year.  It is so enjoyable first and foremost because of its entertainment factor.  This album is the first for the band.  It has largely come to fame via word of mouth and its live shows.  So trying to translate its live show to disc was a calculated risk.  It’s a risk that has definitely paid off.  Even listeners that are new to the group’s material will agree that somehow, its members have managed to paint a vivid picture of its show through this record.  It’s difficult to put a finger on how exactly the band managed it.  But it in fact managed it and quite well at that.  Maybe it was the energy of songs such as ‘Wag Your Tail’, ‘Shake ‘Em Off Shuffle’, and ‘Ohmies Jamboree’ that helped the translation.  Maybe it was the musical variety presented throughout the record’s ten songs.  Maybe it was both of these elements plus more.  Regardless, every moment of this record makes it no less fun with each listen.  Even more to the group’s credit, the ability of the group to translate its live show so clearly to CD, it could even encourage young audiences to want to see the group live.  To that extent, it makes this record that much more praise-worthy.

The ability of the band to translate its live show to CD and successfully so at that is a big part of the album’s enjoyment.  What the group managed to do was make a live release album on a studio record.  That is an accomplishment to say the least.  Also to the record’s credit (and the group’s credit) is that the group’s members have also crafted a record that teaches healthy living.  And they have done so without being preachy, either.  This is an obstacle that so many children’s acts face today.  That’s because kids today are underestimated in terms of their intelligence.  Kids are very smart.  The members of The Ohmies have not underestimated that intelligence.  By getting kids to dance and move like snakes, dogs, grasshoppers, and even butterflies, the band’s members have found slick ways to encourage kids to get moving.  This is extremely important especially considering the battle currently being fought against childhood obesity.  It’s one more salvo in that battle for the health of the nation’s children.  It’s one more reason that The Ohmies are deserving of commendation.  It’s one more reason that The Ohmies’ new record is sure to be a hit with listeners of any age.

The Ohmies just finished up a three-day stint at the Austin City Limits Festival in Austin, TX.  It also has a performance scheduled for Wednesday, January 8th at the West Side YMCA at New York City’s APAP Festival.  Parents can find out about The Ohmies’ latest tour dates, news and more online at and   To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Roberts Releases Another Fun, Family Friendly Album In Recess

Courtesy:  Carpet Square Records

Courtesy: Carpet Square Records

Singer songwriter Justin Roberts’ latest full length studio release, Recess is another enjoyable album from the beloved children’s artist.  His new album comes less than a year after the release of his most recent album, LullabyLullaby was a departure of sorts for Roberts, who is more known for his indie-pop style songs than the much softer material on that release.  That’s not to say it was a bad album by any means; quite the opposite.  Rather, it was interesting in its own right because it was such a departure for him.  Now having returned to style on this latest release, parents and children that have come to know his more standard indie-pop style songs have twelve more songs to enjoy.  And they collectively could not have come at a better time, considering that kids and parents across the country have begun counting down the days to a new school year.

Recess could not have come at a better time, as parents and children across the country have officially begun the countdown of the last month of Summer vacation once again.  The album fittingly opens with its title song, which celebrates the one thing about school that any young child loves more than anything.  And he does quite the impressive job on the song, too.  Somehow, through his interpretation of the song’s lyrics, Roberts is able to put himself into the shoes and mind of a child.  He is able to so vividly express the mix of emotions that a child feels, watching the clock and dreaming of being able to get out on the blacktop and play, expending his or her energy.  The energy that builds through different spots in the song is spot on.  It reflects the energy and anticipation that builds to that magical moment when the recess bell rings.  The song’s joyful culmination is just as wonderfully interpreted.  Listeners can so easily close their eyes and see in their minds, every single bit of what Mr. Roberts sings both here and throughout the song.  It makes for such a wonderful musical movie of the mind so to speak.  It’s just part of what parents and children will enjoy on this new release.

The title track to Justin Roberts’ new album is a fun way to open the album.  And it’s just one of so many fun songs for the whole family on this album.  Roberts does a great job of expressing the joys of childhood throughout this album, not just on its opener.  ‘Hopscotch’, ‘Check me out, I’m at the Checkout’, and ‘We got Two’ so expertly capture a child’s joy at the little things in life that adults take for granted every day.  For all of the joys of childhood expressed in this song (and others), Roberts does something interesting at one point on the album.  He takes listeners into the mind of a dog–believe it or not–in ‘Every Little Step.’  This is one of the highest of high points on this album.  Interestingly enough, it’s just as easy here to close one’s eyes and take in the song from the subject’s point of view.  One can actually see a young puppy waiting at the door for his young human friend, telling listeners of his happy thoughts of his friend.  The dog in question sings happily in this song, “I’m with you every single step of the way.”  Along the way he outlines various situations and declares his loyalty to his friend.  It’s just a happy, poppy song that again, will have both parents and children smiling and singing along.

For all of the upbeat peppiness that dominates Recess, it isn’t all high energy.  That’s not a bad thing.  It does sport a pair of more mellow pieces in ‘Looking For Trains’ and the album’s closer, ‘Red Bird.’  The placement of both of these tracks is spot on.  ‘Looking for Trains’ comes in halfway through the album, allowing listeners to catch their breath.  ‘Red Bird’ closes the album.  The string that connects the pair to the rest of the album is that while they are both far mellower than their companions, they still celebrate the simple things that any youth enjoys and that far too many adults take for granted.  Roberts reminds audiences in the prior of the joy in the simplicity of listening for the sound of a train off in the distance.  One could argue to a point that the train is used here as a central point for an allegory not about trains, but about looking for life’s positives.  This could be a stretch.  But there is some truth in this statement as he sings, “It seems like you’re always looking for trains.”  The album’s closer is written and performed with much the same sincerity and gentility. 

‘Red Bird’ is a perfect counterpoint to the album’s high energy opener.  It would be interesting to know the story behind this moving work.  Roberts sings in the song’s opening verse, “I don’t wanna cry no more/The wolves headed down to my door/I don’t wanna live like I did before/There was you.”  This single line paints something of such a bittersweet back story.  By contrast, the more calming and happier refrain of “I just wanna cry some more/Watch all these wolves run away from my door/Cause I don’t even know who I was before/There was you” presents a beautifully moving picture of someone that has overcome great pain and found happiness despite that earlier pain within the song. The gentle strains of the strings and piano together make this song such a wonderfully emotional work, as does the picture painted through Roberts’ lyrics.  His equally subtle vocal style adds even more joy to the song.  The combination of all of these elements is certain to evoke some very powerful emotions in some listeners.  It’s such a bold, yet gentle reminder that through all the bad, there is good.  And it makes for the perfect way to close out such a wonderful new release from Justin Roberts.

Recess is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online from Justin Roberts’ official website at  Fans can also go to Roberts’ official website and his official Facebook page, to keep up with all of the latest news, tour information and more from the man himself.  He will be touring the Midwest through the first half of August before taking a break and then heading to the West Coast and back up the East Coast in September.

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