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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‘Backyard Bop’ Will Have Any Listener Dancing Along

Courtesy: Red Yarn Productions

The wait is officially over for family music act Red Yarn’s new album.  Red Yarn (a.k.a. Andy Furgeson) is scheduled to release his new album Backyard Bop Friday through his own independent label Red Yarn Productions.  The 12-song album – his sixth album – is yet another presentation that the whole family will enjoy.  That is due to its musical and lyrical content, each of which will receive its own attention in examining the album.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed.  All three noted items are important in their own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Backyard Bop yet another successful offering from Red Yarn that is also an easy contender for its own spot on this year’s list of new family music albums.

Red Yarn’s sixth full-length studio recording Backyard Bop is a fun musical celebration that listeners of all ages will enjoy.  That is thanks in part to the record’s collective musical arrangements.  The album continues to present the country music sounds exhibited in his 2018 album Old Barn, but adds more to the mix this time out.  The up-tempo, guitar-driven arrangement at the center of the album’s opener is one of those songs that shows that growth.  It throws back to the rockabilly sounds that were so popular during the 1950s with that guitar line, and equally infectious piano line.  The whole lends itself to comparisons to works from the likes of Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis.  ‘Jump For Joy,’ the album’s second song, continues the noted Americana/rockabilly sense with its guitar-centered arrangement.  What’s interesting here is that the arrangement is more of a modern sound, though the vintage influence is just as audible.  ‘Lazy Tonight,’ the album’s midpoint entry, immediately lends itself to a comparison to works from the late great Dr. John through its laid back Cajun-infused arrangement.  The use of the organ (likely a Hammond organ) and the drums builds the arrangement’s foundation.  It’s just one more enjoyable way in which this album’s musical side shows the noted growth this time out.  Keeping its impact in mind along with that of the other songs noted here and those in the rest of the album’s arrangements, the musical side of Red Yarn’s new album proves to be its own clear positive to the record.  It is just one of the album’s most notable elements.  The album’s lyrical themes add their own share of appeal to the LP’s presentation.

The lyrical themes that are featured throughout Backyard Bop are even more varied than the album’s musical arrangements.  From approaching the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic in ‘My Own Backyard’ and ‘Outside My Window’ to promoting community involvement and unity in ‘Town Hall’ to celebrating the joy of community and play in ‘Neighborhood Park’ and more, the lyrical themes featured throughout this album offer plenty for listeners to appreciate.  Considering the impact of the COVID-19 impact on people’s mental health, the noted songs are crucial additions to the album.  Furgeson sings in ‘Outside My Window’ about the pleasures of just watching nature and of being with one’s loved ones.  He never comes out and directly mentions the virus, but it has previously been stated that the song does focus on the topic.  That the song is about the virus, but never comes out and makes mention of the matter makes it all the more appealing.  In the same vein, ‘My Own Backyard’ encourages kids to go outside and use their imaginations as they play in their own backyards.  Once again, Furgeson never comes out and makes any mention of COVID-19, which is wonderful.  That lack of mention means that children won’t have to think about it.  Rather, they will think he is just promoting a familiar topic – that of play and using one’s imagination.  Furgeson and his fellow musicians are to be highly commended again for taking this approach.

On a slightly similar note, the lyrical theme at the center of ‘Lazy Tonight’ will uplift listeners of all ages in its own right.  This song is about the joy of just having a movie night in, rather than going out and spending money at the theater.  He sings about watching a movie, enjoying snacks like candy and cookies, and putting off responsibilities until the next day.  The lighthearted lyrics work with the song’s equally relaxed musical arrangement to make the song that much more enjoyable for the whole family.  It also serves to show why the song’s lyrical content is another prime example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content, but certainly not the last.  ‘Town Hall Meeting’ is one more example of that importance.

‘Town Hall Meeting’ is set against the backdrop of, as the title notes, a town hall meeting.  The citizens are there as are town officials of an unnamed town.  Everybody has a concern to voice, but it is all done politely.  He even sings, “You can have your own opinion/Just let me have mine/It ain’t always ‘bout winnin’/But it’s all about tryin’, yeah/So keep on trying ya’ll.”  He stresses in the song’s final lines, “We may be disagreein’/But our hearts are beating/At the town hall meeting.”  Simply put, this is a song that encourages people to try to be kind even despite our different views on things.  Considering that so much discussion at meetings (and online) has become little more than a war of words with, this is a message that adults need just as much as children if not more so.  Considering that here is another example of who this album will connect with grown-ups just as much as children.  When it is considered with the other lyrical themes discussed here and the rest of the album’s lyrical themes, that aspect of the album in whole proves why the album’s lyrical content is just as important as its musical content.

The overall content featured in Red Yarn’s new album is undeniably important separately and collectively.  That has already been pointed out here.  For all that the overall content does for the album’s presentation, it is just one overall part of what makes the album work as well as it does.  Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  As has already been noted, Backyard Bop opens on an energetic note in its rockabilly style opener/title track.  Throughout the course of its 38-minute run time, the album rises and falls at all of the right points in terms of its energy.  The record’s first four songs exhibit a relatively stable energy.  ‘Outside My Window’ and ‘Lazy Tonight’ serve well in breaking up the album, keeping things interesting before giving way to the more slightly up-tempo ‘Critters in my Garden.’  The record pulls back again immediately after in ‘Around This Town.’  The ups and downs continue from that point before finishing out gently in ‘Someone To Love.’  The end result of all of the clearly thought out changes in the album’s energy is a presentation that succeeds just as much for this aspect as for its overall content.  When all three elements are considered together ,the end result is an overall presentation that earns its own place among the year’s top new family music albums just as much as the year’s other top albums in said genre.

Red Yarn’s sixth full-length studio recording is yet another success for the seasoned family entertainer.  That is proven in part through its musical arrangements.  The arrangements build on those featured in the album’s predecessor, Old Barn, giving listeners a little of what is in that album while also presenting something more unique.  The album’s lyrical themes are even more diverse than its musical arrangements.  They cover topics, such as community engagement and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that is accessible to children and adults alike.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make this record another positive offering from Red Yarn and another candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family music albums.

More information on Red Yarn’s new single and album is available along with all of Red Yarn’s latest news at:






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Red Yarn Debuts New LP’s Lead Single, ‘Jump For Joy’

Courtesy: Red Yarn Productions

Family music entertainer Red Yarn debuted the lead single from his new album this week.

The singer-songwriter (a.k.a. Andy Furgeson) debuted his new single ‘Jump For Joy’ through Zooglobble.  The song is the lead single from Furgeson’s new album Backyard Bop, which is scheduled for release Aug. 7.

The song’s debut follows weeks of Facebook live concerts that Furgeson started holding in March.  it is just one of the album’s notable works.  ‘Town Hall Meeting’ is meant to try and unite, rather than divide audiences.Outside My Window’ and ‘My Own Backyard’ help young listeners (and their parents) navigate the difficulties raised by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Other songs featured in the album, such as ‘Critters in My Garden’ and ‘Cats & Dogs’ are meant to offer listeners some laughs.  The record also features something softer and more moving in the form of ‘Someone To Love.’

More information on Red Yarn’s new single and album is available along with all of Red Yarn’s latest news at:






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The Not-Its Are “It” In Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Family Music Albums List

Courtesy: Burnside Distribution/Sugar Mountain PR

Family music is one of the most surprisingly entertaining genres that exists today across the musical universe.  That statement is just as true today as it ever has been thanks to this year’s crop of new albums.  Between the arrangements, which will entertain listeners of all ages and the lyrical themes, to which young listeners especially will connect, family music albums prove that they are just as viable as those of their mainstream counterparts.

That is why this year, just as in years past, Phil’s Picks is making sure to give those albums their own time in the light.  This year’s list features new releases from acts such as Mister G, The Not-Its, The Okee Dokee Brothers and plenty of others who might not be so well-known.

Topping this year’s list is the new album from Seattle’s own The Not-Its.  As noted in a previous review of that album, it is a full-on celebration of childhood and the innocence connected to that time in life.

The Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest album Winterland was a risk for the duo because of the success of the group’s “adventure albums” that preceded the record.  Yet, it was a risk that proved to pay off thanks to its musical and lyrical content, which uses winter themes to delve into some very deep and very grown-up topics.

Cheri Magill’s new indie-pop styled record Tour Guide takes third place in this year’s list thanks to its arrangements and its own celebration of childhood (and even parenthood).

The records noted here are just part of this year’s list.  The other 12 records featured in the list are noted with these records below.  As always, the list features 15 total albums, with the Top 10 being the top albums and the following five being honorable mentions. without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 New Family Music Albums.


  1. The Not-Its — Ready or Not
  2. Cheri Magill — Tour Guide
  3. The Okee Dokee Brothers — Winterland
  4. Mister G — Fireflies
  5. Red Yarn — Red Yarn’s Old Barn
  6. Hullabaloo — 20 Songs in 20 Days
  7. Splash and Bubbles — Rhythms of the Reef
  8. Steve Elci and Friends — Jump in the Puddle
  9. Ants, Ants, Ants — Why, Why Why
  10. Mi Amigo Hamlet — Happy Land is Tierra Feliz
  11. Suzi Shelton — Hand in Hand
  12. Sara Lovell — Wild is Everywhere
  13. Animal Farm — We Are One
  14. Liz Beebe — Hush NowLullabies For Sleepy People
  15. The Green Orbs — thumb Wrestling Champions

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‘Red Yarn’s Old Barn’ Is A Win For Country Music Fans Of All Ages

Courtesy: Red Yarn Productions

Late last month, veteran children’s act Red Yarn released its latest full-length studio recording to the masses.  Red Yarn’s Old Barn, the group’s fifth full-length studio recording, is yet another work from the Portland, Oregon-based act hat will appeal to country and bluegrass fans of all ages through its catchy country and bluegrass musical arrangements and its equally deep lyrical themes.  This is proven in throughout the 12-song, 40-minute record.  The record’s lead single, ‘Old Barn’ makes this wholly clear, as does the more subtle socially aware ‘Old Hen Cackled.’  ‘Till The Cows Come Home’ is yet another way in which this record proves to be such an enjoyable new offering for the whole family, but certainly not the last that could.  Every one of the songs featured in the album could easily be cited in that statement.  To that end, Red Yarn’s Old Barn proves in the end to be a record that is a family album in every sense of the word, and one that will appeal to the whole family.

Red Yarn’s new full-length album Red Yarn’s Old Barn is a family album that is certain to appeal to the whole family.  That is especially the case for families that are fans of country and bluegrass music.  This is due both to the record’s musical arrangements and its lyrical themes, which promote very positive ideals.  ‘Old Barn,’ the record’s title track and opener – which the album’s companion booklet notes is based on an anonymous poem from the 1800s — is one prime way in which this statement is supported.  Some changes are made lyrically between that poem and this work, but even with those changes, which will be discussed momentarily, the song becomes even more enjoyable than its source material.  The song’s musical arrangement is a wonderful musical trip back in time to the old days of bluegrass and country western songs, complete with piano, banjo and guitar.  Vocalist Andy Ferguson’s delivery conjures thoughts (interestingly enough) of Hank III, who pays his own tribute to the old days of country music.  Between his vocal tonality and the whole of the instrumentation here, the whole makes this composition that will put a smile not only on children’s faces, but on the faces of the most seasoned purist country music aficionado.  Lyrically, it will put just as much of a smile on the faces of more open-minded listeners as it promotes a positive message of inclusion.  That’s made fully clear in the description of the song’s companion video.  The video illustrates that message quite well complete with a U.S. flag hanging adjacent to a gay pride flag and animals of all kinds coming to the barn dance.  Of course, country music and gay pride typically don’t go hand-in-hand, but it is nice to see someone bring the two together, and show that it’s possible to be a country music fan and open-minded.  Lyrically, the song does a good job of presenting that message of inclusion as Furgeson sings, “It don’t matter whether/You got fur or you got feathers/If you walk on four legs or you walk on two/We’ll all feel better if we could all just be together/’Cause there’s room here in my old barn for you.”  He drives his message of full societal inclusion as he sings, “The new sheriff from the town/Just tried to shut us down/Sayin’ who could stay and who must leave/But if you’re askin’ me/Well the only place to be/Is wherever/With whomever/You feel free.”  Considering the day and age in which we live today and with people showing their hatred-filled souls so much, this message is one from which so many people could learn.  Attacking others because of their language, religious beliefs, etc. is just wrong. Period.  Considering this, it’s nice to see Red Yarn present this message right from the album’s outset.  It’s just the start of the album’s positives, too and by connection, just one of the ways in which this record proves to be such a joy for the whole family.  ‘Old Hen Cackled’ is another key entry to this record.

‘Old Hen Cackled’ is another key addition to Red Yarn’s Barn in part because of its musical arrangement, which changes things up from ‘Old Barn.’  This time, listeners get a song that is more of a bluesy composition that easily lends itself to comparisons to works from Derek Trucks Band, The Allman Brothers Band and other similar acts.  That is meant in the most complimentary fashion possible.  It should be noted here that this song, as clearly noted in the album’s companion booklet, is based on an African-American folk song that was especially made popular by Pete Seeger.  Of course there are some additions and changes made here to adapt the song to the current state of affairs in America.  It’s a simple work through its instrumentation and overall composition that is certain to have listeners tapping their feet.  Lyrically, it’s just as important to discuss because once again, it uses its farm references to discuss a much bigger issue – that of racial equality and standing up for that right.  This is inferred as Furgeson sings about the old hen’s cackling starting small, but eventually reaching The White House.  It started with the hen “cackling” on the farm, then on the street, then the board room and then the court room before going as high as the White House.  What he is saying here (or at least seems to be saying) is that even though some people call those calls for social change little more than “cackling,” they are in fact much more.  They are important messages that can and do grow with those who are determined to be heard.  As Furgeson sings to his young listeners, “Open up yours eyes and let yourself see that/All my little chickies got a right to be free.”  Again, this is clearly a message promoting social and racial equality.  Kudos are in order for yet again having such a deep and powerful message presented on a level that is accessible to young listeners, and in turn a starting point for parents to start discussions on the importance of standing up for change, yet another important issue.  It’s just one more way in which Red Yarn’s Old Barn proves to be such an enjoyable album for the whole family, especially now in this nation’s current day and age.  It still is not the last song that can be cited in supporting that statement. ‘Till The Cows Come Home’ is yet another example of that impressiveness.

‘Till The Cows Come Home is a moving composition that musically takes listeners once again back to the old days of country music, complete with slide guitar and gentle piano and drums.  It’s an arrangement that conjures thoughts of those old smoky country dives in which the country bands of yesteryear would perform.  Interestingly, there are moments in the arrangement that lend themselves to thoughts of John Denver’s hit ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads.’  Odds are that those comparisons were not intentional, but they are there.  All things considered, this song’s arrangement is a beautiful piece that will certainly appeal to the most devout country music purists if only for its musical arrangement.  Of course that arrangement is only one part of what makes this song stand out.  Its lyrical theme plays its own importance in its whole.  In regards to its lyrical content, the song seems to be centered on the story of the prodigal son (I.E. familial love).  It does this by telling the story of a farmer who let his animals free to do their own things and experience life.  In the end, the animals came back, and were welcome with arms wide open.  It’s an original way to present a familiar story, and one that reminds listeners of all ages the importance of a parent being there while allowing young people to  grow and learn.  That is, in essence, what the story of the prodigal son is about.  It’s an allegory about a parent showing his/her love and support for children.  All that Red Yarn has done here is update that allegory and make it accessible for this generation.  Once again, it’s a wonderful way in which this record proves to be so enjoyable for listeners of all ages.  It also is hardly the last way in which the album proves to be such a success.  between it, the other directly noted songs and even those not noted here, the album in whole proves to be a work that country music purists of all ages will appreciate.

Red Yarn’s fifth full-length studio recording Red Yarn’s Old Barn is a record that is certain to appeal to country music purists of all ages.  As has been pointed out, that is because of the record’s musical arrangements and to the variety of lyrical material presented throughout the album.  The songs noted here do plenty to support that statement.  They are hardly the only songs that could be cited in supporting that statement, too.  ‘To Raise A Barn,’ presents the message of social unity and working together while also hinting at a former first lady’s message of it taking a village to raise a child.  The inclusion of a cover of songwriter Bob Morris’ song ‘I’m Gonna Feed You Now’ – which was popularized by country legend Porter Wagoner – adds even more enjoyment to the record.  It stays true to its source material, which will certainly please – again – any country music purist.  ‘Go Little Gator’ is an original by Red Yarn that seems to pay tribute to Furgeson’s father and his (Furgeson’s) own childhood.  There’s even a cover of the classic Appalachian folksong ‘Sally Anne’ included in the whole of the record.  Between those songs and the pieces more directly discussed here, it becomes clear in examining the whole of the album that it will most certainly appeal to a wide range of listeners.  From the newest to the most seasoned of country fans, this record offers something for everyone, both musically and lyrically.  That being the case, Red Yarn’s Old Barn proves to be a true family music album and justifiably one of the best of the year in that category, too.  It is available now.  More information on Red Yarn’s Old Barn is available online now along with all of Red Yarn’s latest news at:









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