Farmer Jason and Buddies. Nature Jams
Farmer Jason is of course Jason Ringenberg of Scorchers fame. Over the past few years he’s carved out this sideline as a children’s entertainer playing live gigs for the little ones and releasing several albums in this guise although this is the first one to have come to our attention. For anyone who’s seen the Scorchers the energy and sheer enjoyment Ringenberg brings will be familiar and its to his credit that the songs musically don’t make any concessions to what one might expect of kiddie music. Turbo charged country rockers are the order of the day with regular foil Warner E. Hodges adding his whirlwind guitar to several of the songs. With a stellar cast of characters including Mike Mills (REM), Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick), Steve Gorman (Black Crowes), Iris Dement, Suzy Bogguss, Tommy Ramone and The Saw Doctors Farmer Jason sings about the great outdoors and the many sights, activities and fauna one can engage with.
As an adult the hokum introductions and the frequent admonitions to ensure the parent or care giver is involved does interfere with the enjoyment although the rousing Prairie Riddles with Iris Dement could easily fit on a Scorchers album. Guest Tod Snider however joins in with particular relish relating the tale of his lost Moose. But after all this is an album for kids and the rollicking tale of Dison The Bison , the galumphing country thump of Manatee with Hank Williams 111 or the banjo driven Can You Canoe should delight the discerning tot. The disc comes with a DVD of four of the songs where Farmer Jason goofs around with a bunch of kids canoeing, spelunking, hiking and being chased by Dison. Buy this and you need never watch Barney The Dinosaur again.
For copyright reasons we can’t post a song here but you can listen here
Suzy Bogguss American Folk Songbook.
Bogguss, who appears on the Farmer Jason album is another artist with kids on her mind. The genesis of this album was when she toured with Garrison Keillor and was impressed by the audience participation on songs like Red River Valley that everyone there seemed to know. Recalling her own experience of learning such songs in school she decided to produce an album and associated songbook in the hope that listeners and in particular younger generations would continue to learn how to play and sing cherished songs that have graced campfires, choirs and family gatherings for years.
The album in itself is a delight with superb renditions of songs familiar to all such as Froggy Went A-Courting, Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Shenandoah. Perhaps less familiar to the general public but well known in folk circles songs such as Wayfaring Stranger, Shady Grove, Careless Love and Wildwood Flower all turn up.
Bogguss as always sings beautifully and the arrangements and playing are tasteful and uncluttered. The acoustic ensemble led by Pat Bergeson (guitar, harmonica, Jews harp) play fiddle, mandolin, accordion, concertina, banjo and hammer dulcimer can be as delicate or as invigorating as required. As a result all 17 songs are impressive whether it be the rollicking Ol’ Dan Tucker, the yodelling cowboy song Get Along Little Dogie or the powerful Erie Canal. Special mention must be made of Bogguss’s very impressive vocal acrobatics on the sprightly Froggy Went A-Courtin’ while Wildwood Flower with its hammer dulcimer is a wonderful rendition of this old Carter family song.
An impressive album overall, the companion book is well worth investigating. With charts for piano and guitar plus lyrics Bogguss write a short introduction to each song which demonstrate her obvious love and respect for the songs and the tradition. As a package this would be a fine introduction for any youngster hankering to learn how to begin to delve into Americana music.