Here are album by album excerpts from newspaper, magazine, and internet reviews
of Randy's FAMILY & CHILDRENS recordings and live performances...

(Please click HERE for reviews of Randy's not-REALLY-for-kids music.)


TRIPPIN' ROUND THE MITTEN (2017)

"MITTEN is full of Kaplan-esque wordplay and unique situations. ... There's the 1950s novelty "Mr. Bassman" with a science-oriented epilogue, "Mr. Spaceman," where he explains time/space travel dynamics to his car-trip-tired son. And the recent Maroon 5 tune "Sugar" gets a kid-centric rewrite about confectionary concoctions. ... Randy is entering the eleventeenth year of adolescence and we're all the better for it."

MrJeff2000


"Now that Kaplan’s a father, he’s got an even more constant stream of inspiration. Kaplan has excellent taste in cover songs [and] a sharp parodic ear, reworking “Mr. Bass Man” into "Mr. Spaceman" (hi, Elon Musk!) and turning Maroon 5’s "Sugar"'s inappropriate-for-a-four-year-old's lyrics into an ode to a four-year-old’s favorite ingredient. ... And in the case of Kaplan’s “On the Phone on the Toilet,” the salty and sweet are inextricably mixed. Kaplan doesn't change his formula here, but when the formula works well as it does again, I’m OK with that. Longtime fans will dig in; if you're new to Kaplan, this album is a fine place to start."

ZOOGLOBBLE


"[Trippin' Round the Mitten is] so classically Randy. The album encompasses several of the queries children can create and with which they pepper our days — so much more than "are we there yet?" Randy’s unique sound and witty interjections make it feel like your fun uncle has come along for the drive. "Supernude" was the hands-down favorite in our house; we have such a toddler right now and it is a source of endless entertainment for my older kids. I was drawn to "Mr. Spaceman," a take on "Mr. Bassman" and perfectly accessible to anyone who has ever known anyone interested in space. ... "On the Phone on the Toilet" was an unexpected surprise: it starts as a scathing critique of modern motherhood but instead teaches us all to not be so quick to judge and that things are never quite as they seem. Whether you're road tripping through Michigan (which I highly recommend!) or staying close to home, bring Randy along for the drive. You’ll be glad you did."

Cherry Blossoms


"An extremely well-educated, well-rounded man, who has lived in many places around this country, it easy to see (and hear) the many people Kaplan sites as influences to his music and mirth-making: people such as Steve Martin and the Marx Brothers, Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie. But as a fellow native Long Islander, I personally would say his biggest influence was hailing from Dix Hills, a mere half-hour or so as the crow flies from my home town of Port Washington--and I dare say that is where he must have first learned his art of kibitzing (so apparent throughout this CD in between and during the songs).... [W]ho else could work Dmitri Shostakovitch into a chat with kids? He invents words and incorporates them into his songs in a way that they sound right being there. I love his interaction with the kids with whom he kibitzes throughout the album. He talks and has fun with them without ever talking down to them. Make no mistake, there’s an art to kibitzing that all too many people fail to achieve, try as they might. One might say it’s a lost art.... Just about every song on this album owes itself to something or someone who influenced Randy’s life, and he possesses a gift that he coalesce the vapors of these influences in a way that entertains you from start to finish, all with a goal to make you just feel happy. I dare anyone who listens to this album (or any of Randy’s other albums) to not be just entertained by it, but happier afterwards.... It is so easy to pick up on the nuances as he sings and talks that he loves performing, he loves children, and he loves life. Do you really want to listen to music by someone who doesn’t have those attributes? Really? Even his 5-year-old son gets into the act with his own song! If he takes after dad, then the world will have happy music for generations to come."

Critical Blast


"[Trippin' Round the Mitten] incorporat[es] witty references and educational references into songs with familiar beats from a variety of musical genres. Mixing in comedic interludes to the songs, [Randy] provide[s] a family-friendly experience filled with intelligent retrospect, humorous moments, and toe-tapping tunes."

Geek Daddy


"Whether he sings, tells stories, or cracks jokes, the one thing that surfaces throughout is Randy's uncompromising respect for kids."

Baby Bookworms


"Children are invited – no, encouraged – to enjoy Randy Kaplan’s not-JUST-for-kids album Trippin’ Round the Mitten, but they’ll have to step up their game: He’s not pandering to them.... Trippin’ is loaded with big vocabulary words, literary references, mature slyness and downright eccentricity that will occasionally fly over the heads of young ones. Yet Kaplan presents it all with child-friendly glee and an impishness that works for boyish men and girlish women as well as juveniles. The roots rocker’s comedic turns and diverse musicianship drive the 18-track release through nearly an hour of joyful jaunts, from Kaplan’s turn as the Eminem of Family Music on opening hip-hop/funk track “Honk Honk” (where he raps a warning to anyone who intends to squeeze his nose) to the stream-of-consciousness musings of his 5-year-old son, Ryland Kaplan, on “Mommy Love Song.” He sings a breezy Americana ode to an ornery-but-lovable dog on “Comb Your Ears,” deals a bona fide astronomy lesson into the goofy-sounding “Mr. Spaceman” and reveals the secret kid-Dad shenanigans that go on when Mom isn’t around on the free-jazz “Cat & Mice.” Also, Kaplan’s wife, Julie May, billows in for two gracious covers of her own, singing Pete Townshend’s “Sleeping Dog” as well as “Bye Bye Baby” (which Marilyn Monroe sang in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)."

Chuck Campbell — Knoxville News Sentinel (USA Today Network)


"On the Phone on the Toilet" (MP3 single, 2016)

"It’s funny, and wildly uncomfortable, and melancholy, and funny again, and great. Without the way [Randy] resolve[s] it at the end, it would have been a completely different song walking a pretty sanctimonious line. Instead, [he] turn[s] the line into a straight up high-wire act, one where I couldn’t breathe until the final resolution. [This song] will speak to a lot of people, and I’m sure it will be polarizing in the way that only [Randy’s] songs are, but I think that’s a good thing! It’s the kind of song where people, both big and little will hang on every word. It will also make moms cry a little (myself included) but maybe that’s not a bad thing?"

Mindy Thomas (Program Director, Kids Place Live, SiriusXM ch. 78)


"The song is great and [Randy is] pretty much the only artist that could pull this off. This is a feeling felt by SO MANY kids these days and I appreciate [him] calling out parents from the point of view of their own kid who can’t articulate it the same way. Love it. I mean, it hits close to home for me too, because so much of my output is about my kids or my relationship with them as a dad, and I spend too much time on my phone too, but making parents feel uncomfortable is a good thing (from my alternative viewpoint, anyway). And while it resolves at the end, it doesn’t quite excuse all the phone usage either."

Jeff Bogle (Author/blogger at PBS, OWTK, Time Out New York, etc.)


"What a rollercoaster! I think so many of us need to hear what our kids feel when we are glued to our devices...and I don’t WANT to listen again but I will...I need to. I love the end and think this is a great conversation starter/maybe life changer for some families."

–Sharon Glusman Pennock (Kids Place Live listener, via KPL Facebook page)


"This song, in a way, is freeing because it’s like an acknowledgement that it’s going on and we all do it while at the same time I feel like I’ve been caught. The irony here is that we get so much from virtual connections, even when we are sending updates of our families—through text messages, photos, etc.,—it seems like we are connected with the people we are posting about and people/“friends”/friends of friends we are posting out to. Are we though? This song evokes a ton of emotion and I think many people will either be annoyed that another person is singing about how we are too connected to this world or it will immediately resonate with people, causing them to take a brief hiatus—even if it’s only for 1 day or 1 hour or 1 minute—to reach out and touch someone and then go back to their devices, hopefully more conscious of how long they are connected to a reality that actually isn’t. Or both."

Rebecca Alison (Blogger at Kids Can Groove, Booking Agent at Little Cloud Management)



JAM ON RYE (2014)

"Randy Kaplan’s Jam On Rye is an explosion of wacky, sometimes poignant, absolutely delightful songs that leave us gasping, "Did he just say that?!" Yes, he did. And these 16 winning songs are all put together with outstanding vocals and production that draw us right into the heart of each adventure. Some songs are kinda like plays, with rapid-fire, perfectly articulated lyrics that are so engagingly off-the-wall you look at your friends in disbelief and say, "This dude is crazy in the most wonderful way!" No subject is off limits. Not a shower door. Not a hockey puck. Most assuredly not bodily emissions. It’s so real, so vivid, so melodic and zany and surprising and, well, dare I say it, so genius. There’s nothing else like this 46-minute excursion into a world you and your kids will want to visit over and over. It will go down in history as one of the best CDs for kids and families ever."

-Dave Kinnoin


"How has parenthood changed Randy Kaplan? For starters, there's an increased emphasis on all things olfactory. Of the 16 tracks on JAM ON RYE, three deal directly with bodily functions ("Burpity Burp Burp Burp," "Everybody Farts," and "Follow Your Nose")...(But) Randy's milieu is the story song and he tells a bunch of amusing new stories on this collection...(all) filtered through his daddy lenses...There will always be a place in children's music for original thinkers and Randy is remarkably consistent and pleasingly off-center with his compositions. He sympathizes with the younger set and frequently takes their side in his songs, while casting a winking eye to their parents."

-Mr. Jeff 2000


"Though we’re already applying sunscreen, my hockey-loving husband reminds me that there’s still plenty of ice time to watch as the Stanley Cup playoffs continue this week. And whether you’re a fan of Kings or the Rangers (or the Bruins who, sadly, are not in the finals says this New England mama), we’ve got a cool tune from kindie favorite Randy Kaplan that will get you pumped up for these last few days in the hockey season. From his latest release Jam On Rye, 'Hockey Puck' is a fast-talking song with a galloping country beat. Randy humorously runs through every ball he can think of before asking, 'Hockey puck?' and then going over all the major points in hockey: hat tricks, slapshots, missing teeth, and the most exciting thing of all: The Zamboni. It’s not exactly going to make the game any easier for kids to follow, but it sure is fun to try to keep up with him. Plus, there’s a Don Rickles reference. That one’s just for us grownups."

-Cool Mom Tech


"Randy Kaplan certainly does know how to have fun and he knows exactly the kind of fun that kids like to have! He also knows how to make children’s music that the whole family can enjoy, even the adults. Jam on Rye features a variety of musical styles from this multi-talented artist. In addition to the bluegrass that he is known for, you’ll also hear calypso, blues and lullabies. The lyrics are humorous and easy to understand. The subject matter of the songs and his sense of humor are age appropriate for elementary school age kids who will giggle and they sing along. The CD is lots of fun and I think he would be even more fun to see live in concert!"

-Sweeps 4 Bloggers


"Randy Kaplan has once again created an album full of hits...the variety of musical genres and subjects on this album are amazing and fun...There are lots of different sounds, sound effects, and vocals (including kids), which adds lots of great touches to some already fun music. Randy sings about things that nearly everyone can relate to, and the music is perfect for singing along...I know that my kids loved it and therefore it will be added to the CDs we listen to while we are in the car. (That is high praise in our house!). JAM ON RYE is perfect for those long road trips."

-A Nation of Moms


"Randy Kaplan plays music for kids. But it’s not your typical "Itsy Bitsy Spider" fare. Throughout his 30-year career, Kaplan has enthralled, entertained and educated the younger set with his own songs as well as renditions of blues and country. With his great love of country, blues, ragtime, folk and Broadway show tunes, Randy Kaplan has successfully taken these genres and made them kid friendly. Originally an actor, Kaplan enjoyed some success in sitcoms and theater productions until playing music became his prime interest. He found his niche playing for the younger set quite by accident, and hasn’t looked back since."

-Digital Journal


"He talks, tells stories, cracks jokes, and borrows old songs to make them his own: this is the patented Randy Kaplan formula, and with every record his approach to making “not just for kids” music becomes more cohesive. No one else in the kid’s music game is as comfortable or capable of pivoting quickly from references to Sigmund Freud to songs about farting and then over to a talking Queen Bee and a hungry domesticated monkey. Kaplan’s latest, JAM ON RYE, is filled with quirky character voices, puns, laughs, witty smarts, expert jazz/rag/folk musicianship and terrific songs you’ll happily let bounce around your noggin all day long. Check out the sports hilarity of “Hockey Puck” which includes a sweet shout out to my beloved Detroit Red Wings and “Nagasaki,” a song showcasing Kaplan’s worldly self and his storytelling prowess that continues to delight kids of all ages."

-Cooper & Kid


"Without a doubt, Randy Kaplan is a raconteur, good at telling stories. He tells them through song rather than spoken word or on paper, but his characters and offbeat humor sometimes bordering on the absurd might remind you (in a very kid-friendly way) of, say, David Sedaris...From a memorable shower door ("Ode to a Shower Door," which features a guest appearance from a past Kaplan character), to parental frustrations with a visit to a Mexican restaurant ("Don't Fill Up on Chips"), the new songs let Kaplan play with voices and characters to good effect. One of my favorite tracks here is "Crew Cut," which wistfully recounts a series of different hairstyles. His songs range from scatological humor ("Burpity Burp Burp Burp") to tender ("Not Too Young for a Song") to tender scatological humor ("Everybody Farts") -- you can tell that Kaplan's new status as a parent has given him a brand new well of material to work with...You'll laugh, you'll cry -- OK, your kids won't cry, but you'll at least take a minute to appreciate the whirlwind of parenting. Definitely recommended."

-Zooglobble


"I'll vouch for this. Randy Kaplan is a wizard with words, and no slouch with a tune either. Yeah, you could say his songs are for kids. You could say Lewis Carroll is for kids. You could say Maurice Sendak is for kids. You could say Dr. Seuss or The Wizard of Oz or The Hobbit are just for kids. But like all those guys/creations, Randy's got wit, he's got verbal dexterity, he's inventive, clever, imaginative. He never talks or sings down to his audience. I flat out love his new CD JAM ON RYE. I listened to it over and over in my car for days. And I don't even have kids!"

-Jeff Rogers



MR. DIDDIE WAH DIDDIE (2012)

"What's old is new again with Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie. This is offbeat, smart and funny, funny, funny!"

-Mindy Thomas, Sirius-XM Radio


"Take your kids on a time warp with this collection of blues and ragtime numbers from the early 20th century."

-People (8/6/12 issue - included in the "8 Cool Kids' Albums Now!" piece, pg. 42)


"Randy Kaplan's Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie is wholesome perfection. This CD is about as great as it gets."

-Cherry Blossoms {the blog}


"Randy Kaplan is such a talented kids' rocker; the kind of performer who really engages his audience. He doesn't just sing, he tells stories. And we listen... We listened to (Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie) on a family road trip with hardly a peep out of the back seat the whole time. I know--this certainly sounds like an impossible task. But even my husband restrained from taking a phone call because he was enjoying the tunes and tales. This, my friends, never happens."

-Eva Glettner, Cool Mom Picks


"Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie is one of the most remarkable children’s music collections I’ve encountered. If you have to have the back-to-school blues, this is the best kind. This goes for teachers and parents, too!"

-Kate Karp, School News Roll Call


"Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie... is more powerful than a locomotive in the way it drives kids through a range of blues sounds – hearkening back to the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s — while it entertains them with (Randy's) trademark lyrical wit... Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie is ambitious in its effort to educate young listeners about some of the most significant indigenous music America has produced. It's also funny, insightful, and loving. Who would want to miss out on all of that?"

-Gregory Keer, Family Man Online


"Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie is Randy’s fourth not-JUST-for-kids release and probably our favorite to date. (It's) fantastic... On this album we are taken on a journey through the great musical heritage of country blues and ragtime from the 1920s, 30s and 40s and actually taught a thing or two about the masters who made up the genre... With his serious storytelling chops and musicianship, Randy is a pioneer (and) one of the most versatile and creative voices in kids music today... As the almost eponymous title track suggests, listening to this is good for your health and will put a spring in your step. Highly highly recommended."

-Rebecca Alison, Kids Can Groove


"It’s been more than a few years since Dan Zanes helped shake up the family music scene with his lively renditions of traditional tunes. Randy Kaplan has done his own take on this concept, and the result is just as wonderful."

-Michael Berick, L.A. Parent


"Although Randy has dabbled in this genre before, we now get to experience a full-length celebration of one of the greatest periods of music. And it’s fantastic... Additionally, kids play an integral part in bringing some of these songs to life, adding some serious laugh out loud moments as they interject, inquire, make irrational demands, shake their tushes and even yodel along with Randy... It’s basically an example of Randy’s approach to making kids music. He plays it straight, assuming kids are capable of understanding a lot more than we expect."

-Rebecca Alison, Kids Can Groove


"An hour-long history lesson... just as interesting for adults as it is for kids."

-James Zahn, The Rock Father


"Randy is an absolute ace guitarist, picker and ragtime player... There is everything you can imagine to keep a kid's interest... He sings about dogs, and old girlfriends, and ice cream, and bullies, and everything. There are horn sections, with tubas, piano, slide, ragtime, history lessons, banjos, harmonicas, and just fun stuff. Oh yes, and there’s Denise who lent him her hat and gave him lice... This is a great place to plant some roots of the blues in your kids' heads and start them out right!... A refreshing, innovative change of pace."

-Blue Barry, Smoky Mountain Blues Society


"The narrative blues style is well-suited to Kaplan's trademark story songs. Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie is an extension of his established performance persona... The CD is clearly a labor of love for Randy. They may be old songs but he doesn't let them feel old. Randy has kept the arrangements faithful, while updating the material for a savvy, youthful generation."

-Jeffrey Cohen, MrJeff2000


"When I tried out Randy Kaplan’s Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie (my kids) decided it was awesome! My 8-year-old was listening to the lyrics and thought they were hilarious! We haven’t listened to many Blues CDs so it was definitely something new for them. I liked that it was upbeat enough to not make me tired, but not crazy enough to get my kids all wound up. It was the perfect combination!... This Randy Kaplan album was a great fit for our whole family! I would recommend it to everyone who appreciates great music!"

-Ashleigh, A Mom's Take


"No blues album could ever be complete without some good scat music. "Ice Cream Man Rag," a rag about getting the Ice Cream Man’s attention in which Randy comes up with a plan to do a dance called the Pigeon Wing, not only features some tap dancing but we get to hear some mighty fine scat singing that made my ears perk up just a bit... The CD (also) contains 20 colorful pages of liner notes giving kids more information on what they are listening to... (and) the album is just as interesting for adults as it is for kids."

-Debbie McLoughlin, Africa's Blog


"You will love Randy Kaplan’s kid-friendly romp through American Blues history. If you want your kids to love the blues, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie is the perfect introduction. A good dose of history, a boatload of fun and a CD full of songs you will hear your kids singing around the house – this is not your average kids album. Both kids and parents can agree on this one!... Listen to the finger pickin’!... Shake whatever you have, however you can... A music teacher and music therapist’s dream... There is a huge variety of music on this album, making it a real treasure. But, the treasure comes with notes! The liner notes for this album are full of interesting bits of facts and information regarding the blues, ragtime, famous musicians and other song-specific tidbits. If you knew nothing about blues before, read the notes and learn!... Randy has a delightful sense of humor and a great deal of talent."

-A Nation of Moms (NoM)


"Randy Kaplan makes learning about the history of the blues a great experience for kids of all ages. Does your child love to sing, dance or just enjoy music? (Then) they will love hearing Randy’s unique style of introduction to the blues!... If you’re looking for music education mixed with fun, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie is perfect for you and your family. I highly recommend it for kids of all ages!"

-Pamela Maynard, Mom Does Reviews


"There always seems to be a way to surprise me. The latest was listening to Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie by Randy Kaplan. I'll be perfectly honest, this isn't something that would have ever hit my radar. It's been decades since I've listened to anything that is geared towards children. I was quite surprised when I was asked to review it simply because it is a children's album. I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard... Randy has found a way to engage a young audience and give them a bit of a musical history lesson without them probably even realizing it. With humor and topics that any child can relate to Randy opens the door to genres that you simply don't hear on the radio anymore. With clever little introductions to songs, he mentions some legendary musicians and even explains the origins of things like how Muddy Waters became Muddy. It's a great way to expose the next generation to genres like the Blues and Jazz without giving them topics that are just not going to make sense to them. Musically it's quite solid (and) it will appeal to parents on that level... For a parent of a young child this may be the perfect way to introduce them to musical styles that may seem just too far over their heads. There is a comfort that comes from knowing that there are still musicians out there that don't rely on four letter words and risqué themes to draw an audience."

-Melissa Martinez, Rock Over America


"Randy Kaplan is one of the nation's foremost children's entertainers... (He) has taken the music of the pre-WWII masters and introduced it to a brand new audience--our children and grandchildren. Clever re-workings of these classics done in the musical styles in which they were originally conceived, as well as extensive, historical liner notes makes Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie fun for the whole family!"

-Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society


"Kaplan hits the bullseye with Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie, supplying great ragtime and blues (and) giving the kids a good dose of fun without making a mockery of one of the greatest genres of music known to man... It’s a well rounded blues and ragtime album with lots of hilarity in its skits and great messages in each and every song. I highly recommend."

-AJ Garcia, Shakefire


"There is a 20-page colorfully illustrated liner notes (booklet) that will teach kids about their great American musical heritage. My older kids really enjoyed reading through the liner notes. This CD is one the whole family can enjoy. We listen to this and dance around, laughing and having a good time. I really like that this has songs that the children like so much it was hard to pick a favorite. There aren't a lot of CDs that my older children (ages 14 & 11) like to listen to as much as my younger children (ages 3 & 1). This is one of them! This is another great addition to our music collection. Our family really enjoys it!"

-Deanna's Bargains


"Kids will learn some American musical history as they listen to the CD... Older kids will enjoy reading the enclosed booklet that gives background information on the songs and artists who originally wrote and performed them. It is a children’s CD, but can be enjoyed by adults and kids."

-Sweeps4Bloggers


"This CD is absolutely fun and hilarious for the whole family... We moved the coffee table and my children danced till they dropped... (They) laughed up a storm while dancing and learning about their great American musical heritage."

-Curriculum Choice


"Kaplan is one of kids music's top storytellers... He draws from a deep well of pint-sized frustration and pique. And what better channel for expressing frustration and pique than the blues?... (His songs are) remarkably tender and sweet... Just enjoy with your kids a solid collection of bluesy stories from one of the best storytellers around."

-Stefan Shepherd, Zooglobble


"There are few people in the kid’s music biz I like more — both personally and musically — than Randy Kaplan. He is a sweet and funny dude on and off record, plus he’s a treasure trove of smarts... His not-JUST-for-kids albums to this point have been painted with equal parts of all those portions of his personality... They are each still an important part of my family’s musical life. Longtime fans of the L.A. singer-songwriter should know that there are no “No Nothings”, “Ladybugs Without Spots”, and not a single “Shampoo Me” on Kaplan’s newest CD, an ambitious re-interpretation of dusty country blues, folk, and ragtime songs. But you’d be remiss to dismiss this humorous and thoughtful album because it isn’t exactly like his previous discs. What you’ll discover is that by going back to the foundation of American music, you will hear the foundation of Randy Kaplan’s kindie classics. Randy Kaplan is no stranger to the material of the greats. He’s reworked Dylan, after all, as well as some legendary Broadway show tunes, each time making them his own whether playing it straight (“Over The Rainbow”) or Randy-izing them (“I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’”). But the troubadour’s greatest strength is his disarming, quick-witted charm sprinkled liberally into and in-between album tracks, and that once again proves true on Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie."

-Jeff Bogle, Out With The Kids (OWTK)


"Randy Kaplan (is) one of the finest children’s performers in the country... (On) Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie... (he) plays guitar and harmonica and leads a stellar band... it’s a great opportunity for young and old to learn about the blues."

-Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes


"Randy Kaplan has had a wide and varied career from acting in the theatre to prime time television, but he has undoubtedly found an extremely comfortable niche position, that of an accomplished child entertainer and an adult blues, country blues, folk and ragtime performer... (Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie has) seventeen numbers, each of them exquisitely performed with as much relevance and adherence to their original styles and arrangements as possible."

-Brian Harman, Blues in the Northwest (UK)


"This CD is simply put a joy to listen to. I love Randy Kaplan's take on the blues and so do the kids. He presents his own spin on classics in his quirky and kid friendly way. This CD is a superb way to introduce children to blues music and your own ears will thank you (really... they will!)."

-Reviewed By Mom (blog)


THE KIDS ARE ALL ID (2010)

"Parents will surely chuckle at the title of the guitarist and songwriter Randy Kaplan's latest album, "The Kids Are All Id." And those young ids love his music, too, which combines American roots, country blues and storytelling."

-NEW YORK TIMES


"Randy Kaplan's latest in what is now becoming his genre (the children's song that is subversively also meant for adults) is even more respectful of kids' wits than usual. Never one to talk down to tot, Kaplan, on "The Kids Are All Id," takes the title seriously and delivers an amiable but jaundiced set, infusing these seventeen songs with wit, sarcasm, whimsy and a kind of carefree bite that will certainly resonate with little ones and their parents.

"Kaplan's folk-based tunes are built on topics ranging from inoculations ("My Little Laugh") and species-ambiguity ("Is She a Girl or Is She a Monkey;" the monkey in question is Kqxhc, of XMRadio fame) to encounters with huge beasts in Ireland ("The Derby Ram") and Jewish forest denizens ("The Hebrew-Speaking Bear"). "Whistle for Willie," an ode to a loved dog, and gentle pleas for kids to keep their wonder, as on "Dream Hat," "Dreamin'" and a poignant cover of Dylan's "Forever Young," which round out the set.

"Randy Kaplan is slowly becoming a national treasure. "The Kids Are All Id" is a gentle barbed set of songs for kids that speaks to them at a level of respect and understanding that, in this age of screaming that passes for news, adults might wish to be spoken to as well."

-Mike Wood / MUSIC EMISSIONS


"I like getting press releases with the CDs I receive for review, but sometimes they'll hype the CD too much. In the case of family musician Randy Kaplan’s The Kids Are All Id, however, the press release is right on the mark. No, wait, I take that back. It should have gone on and on even more about what an awesomely fun-for-all-ages CD this really is.

"Awhile back, I reviewed Kaplan's Loquat Rooftop and immediately added it to my then 2-year-old son's CD collection. It became an instant favorite. The Kids Are All Id tops that CD and then some! Whimsical, rootsy, imaginative, and funny, Kaplan somehow crawls inside the minds of children and hones in on what they want to hear and what will make them laugh.

"The opening track, "My Little Laugh," is a bluegrassy tune with a simple message that all parents should take note of: If you laugh when your little one takes a tumble, there is a good chance he or she will laugh, too. Crisis averted!

"Kaplan also does a beautiful job on the three original songs based on or inspired by the picture books of Ezra Jack Keats, author and illustrator of The Snowy Day, among other classic children's books: "Whistle for Willie" (inspired by the book of the same name), "Dream Hat" (inspired by Jennie's Hat), and "I Like Cacti" (inspired by Clementina's Cactus).

"And Kaplan serenades and entertains listeners with classic songs as well, including covers of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" and the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis number "The Money Song."

"There are no weak spots on this CD or on any of Kaplan's past CDs nor will there be, I predict, on any of his future CDs. This guy is what makes children and family music listenable and cool."

-Charlotte Bohn / BALTIMORE'S CHILD


"What kid hasn't experienced the getting-left-with-the-babystitter blues? A story-song with humor, vivid imagery and a teenage girl’s voice so spot-on you’ll spit coffee the first time you hear it, “Don’t You Leave Me Here” may end up being as beloved a tune as “No Nothing” in Kaplan’s impressive all-ages oeuvre. Prepare to have the the song title’s melody and the accompanying ‘wah-wah-wah-wah’ of the trumpet stuck in your head for days.

"Sure, it’s the theme song for NBC’s Parenthood, and Pepsi adopted it for a recent (and pretty stellar) ad campaign, but Kaplan is still able to make Bob Dylan’s culturally saturated “Forever Young” shine (video proof below). His creative guitar arrangement provides for enough of a unique spark that this simple blessing can once again be sung to kids at bedtime or anytime, with or without a soda in hand.

"The “Loquat Rooftop” (the song, not the album) of this new disc is the banjo picked "Joe and Finn". It’s a sentimental tune meant more for the grown ups than the kiddos. “Joe and Finn” may get your emotions going as you think back to your own childhood or reflect on those gone-forever stages in your own kid’s adolescence. Written with a wink and a smile, this beautiful melancholy tune includes one of the best lines of the entire set in “Finn and Joe in case you didn’t know / were the best of friends that three year-olds could be / they’ll maybe even stay a sliver in each others memories”.

"A 5-year old who’d rather play outside then accumulate more plastic crap is at the center of Kaplan’s adaptation of “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’”, a George Gershwin number from Porgy & Bess. Kaplan seamlessly converts this 1930’s showtune into a kid’s song by sliding in the story of a wise-beyond-his-years child who excitedly tells Randy about getting zilch for his birthday.

"Fans of Kaplan’s “No Nothing” will be pleased to hear the return of KQXHC, Randy’s pet monkey, in “Is She A Girl Or Is She A Monkey”. Randy Kaplan’s finest vocal performance comes here, with the soulful “She’s got scrapes on her knees / from scaling trees / And brushing against those branches / Like a leaf in the wind / she shakes and dances”. After hearing this song performed live, I wish that Kaplan would’ve extended the conversation between he and KQXHC on the album. There was some funny left on the cutting room floor that would have enhanced the recorded version of “Is She A Girl Or Is She A Monkey”.

"Okay, Time to Wrap it Up with a Nice Little Bow: Always one to sprinkle in familiar covers (“Tomorrow”, Over the Rainbow”), Kaplan digs much deeper into the Great American songbook for “The Kids Are All Id” with cuts from Porgy & Bess, Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, and an 18th-century drinking song retro-fitted for the juice box crowd. Add the trio of Ezra Jack Keats inspired tunes, all of which shine, to the rest of his clever originals and “The Kids Are All Id” is a masterful work of family music that earns, and more than deserves, it’s ‘all-ages’ label; my 3-year old laughs, my 6-year old repeats the stories and my wife and I sing along. With ample imagery, storytelling, humor, grace and genuine emotion, “The Kids Are All Id” is about as close as a piece of polycarbonate plastic can come to being musical theater. It’s hard to imagine “The Kids Are All Id” being more superb. With his 3rd “not-just for kids” album, Kaplan has nailed it."

-Jeff Bogle / OWTK


"The fanciful stories sprung from the conjoined heads of Shel Silverstein and Bob Dylan are Kaplan's calling card, and he's very, very good at them. His third album for kids, The Kids Are All Id, is to my mind, his most story-intensive collection yet. From the get-go, Kaplan tells inventive stories in folk songs about characters you haven't heard from -- "The Hebrew-Speaking Bear," an Elizabeth II-aping queen bee on "Little Bee," or his monkey Kqxhc, who makes a return appearance on "Is She a Girl or Is She a Monkey."...

"The album is titled The Kids Are All Id on purpose -- there are lots of characters here who are somewhat exasperating -- Joe, of course, the title character in the folk-punk "The Kid Is All Id," Kaplan's younger self in his rreworking of "Don't You Leave Me Here," or the toddler who responds to every joke setup line with "This Guy." The first ten or so songs are, if not frenzied, at least active. As a result, the trio of Ezra Jack Keats-based songs about two-thirds of the way through the disk come like a soothing balm. "I Like Cacti" is a sweet, sweet song -- I can't get over the line "What attracts us / About a cactus?" Indeed, while I've been focusing on the words here, Kaplan writes some great musical bits (there's a part in "The Kid Is All Id," in which the adult supervisor breaks free with a plaintive, soaring chorus) and he and his producer Mike West give the album a natural, expansive sound... The Kids Are All Id is Randy Kaplan's best album yet, and shows Kaplan's greatest strength -- his ability to listen to and interact with the kids who are his audience and to turn that into stories in song."

-SA Shepherd / Zooglobble


"Randy Kaplan has a wonderful way of spinning a yarn that the kids just eat up, and then smoothly transitioning that story into a catchy song that sticks with you. His facial expressions are priceless, and as my 12 year old put it, "He wasn't just little kid funny. He was funny funny." The songs are like a cross between They Might Be Giants and early Bob Dylan, and friends, you know there is no higher praise coming from me. Quick digression: There is actually a Bob Dylan song on the album that Randy performed at the concert: "Forever Young." (NOT to be confused with the Rod Stewart song!) My senior year of high school, I printed out the lyrics of that song and pasted it into my friends' yearbooks. It has tremendous sentimental value for me and I will readily admit I teared up during that performance."

-eltonmom / Moms Like Me


"(This is) the smartest -- and possibly most hilarious -- children's music of the year. Songwriter Randy Kaplan has a wonderfully bizarre mind in just the sort of way that is perfect for what he does, at least part of the time: children's music. He calls his music (Not Just For) Kids' Music, and his latest effort, "The Kids Are All Id" fits that bill perfectly. My family has enjoyed plenty of road-trip music. While nothing is going to beat Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," Kaplan's weird, hilarious and sophisticated songs are the best we've heard this summer. Like the other good children's albums from this summer, he appeals to kids and adults -- but there is something more to his songs that take them to another level of brilliance. There's one about a mischievous bear that learns Hebrew and a boy who laughs when he should cry -- examples of how Kaplan creates a mixture of silly and stretching (the mind) for kids and a wealth of funny and even poignant thoughts for the parents. The title track is a rap of sorts that has me crying as much as laughing as it chronicles a parent whose kids constantly put him on the edge of sanity. At one point Sigmund Freud himself reminds the poor dad that that's just what kids are: all Id. My favorite line is "Please let him go to sleep now..." sung with such pleading and pathos -- it's exactly my sentiments at times putting kids to nap or to bed over the years..."Is She a Girl or Is She a Monkey" lays out the thought process of a young boy witnessing in disbelief a girl moving with ease over a playground set -- surely a girl can't do such difficult moves, she must be a monkey, he thinks. Later he debates with himself how hominids differ from monkeys -- really -- and somehow it is not overboard for a kids' album! Another example is "Whistle for Willie," based on the Ezra Jack Keats book. Here Kaplan as a performer captures so well the frustration of a young-un at learning how to whistle. It is not easy! The quirky songs on the album are a mixture of folk-rock and some hip-hop inspired bigger beats, as well as some excellent covers ("I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'" and "The Derby Ram"), and it is all superbly performed by Kaplan and his friends. If you have children, "The Kids Are All Id" is like a massage to the head, along with some belly laughs -- all the while being something your kiddos will think is fun and enjoyable. Heck, you might even find yourself turning it on when they aren't there."

-Andrew Druckenbrod / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


"Though New Times is typically not known for writing about things good for the under age 10 crowd, we do appreciate it when people who play "kids" music do an interesting job... Like, for example, Randy Kaplan, who is known for both his adult and his children's songs, and his sound has been described as, "Tin Pan Alley meets Shel Silverstein meets Dylan," by local children's music super-blogger Stefan Shepherd. He'll be playing on Sunday, June 13 at the much lauded Children's Museum of Phoenix. While he's got several fan favorites, I included his "I Like Cacti" for our desert-dwellers. (Plus, you've gotta respect any out of towner that refers to them as "cacti" rather than "cactuses.")"

-Sarah Ventre / Phoenix New Times


"Randy Kaplan has a new children’s CD! This is big news at our house... He’s obviously having a great time writing these hugely entertaining, goofy, offbeat, and truly wonderful songs. He’s an incomparable storyteller, and each song is its own little world... My only complaint about this new CD is that it is kind of driving me nuts. The grownups in this house want to hear the whole album over and over again, whereas (my son) wants to hear each song over and over again, so that it takes approximately 3 hours to finally hear them all!"

-Laura Lucanidae / Stag Beetle Power!


"Randy Kaplan’s quirky, whimsical repertoire enchants parents and kids alike. Given a typical CD of children’s music, many parents are ready to toss it, pull their hair out—or both—after just an hour or two. But roots rocker Randy Kaplan offers parents a welcome break from the monotony of so many children’s albums. Drawing inspiration from blues, folk, alternative and pop, Kaplan boasts a musical repertoire that adults will love as much their kids do... Kaplan’s latest album, “The Kids Are All Id,” (is) a fresh dose of brassy, folksy fun for moms, dads and kids alike."

-Brittany McNamara / New York Family


"I consider Kaplan a singularly unique voice in the kindie music community. The uniqueness comes not only from his layered, slightly complex tales that tend to work on multiple levels at the same time... He seems fully aware that to capture and keep an audience in the all-ages space, it helps to make the moms and dads smile a little bit along the way. He does not, however, pander to the grown ups at the expense of younger ears, which is why he is proving to be one of the truly great songwriters in the children’s music community... One of the ways Kaplan engages parents is by selecting eclectic covers for his albums. The songs that Kaplan turns into kiddie fodder may crumble in the hands of others, but on "The Kids Are All Id" alone he manages to pull off Bob Dylan's "Forever Young", "I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin'" from Porgy & Bess and a youthful adaptation of a centuries-old drinking song "The Derby Ram". Kaplan is once again giving the grown ups some meat with their mashed potatoes. For the kids, Kaplan is probably best appreciated for injecting hilarious voices into his story songs. On "The Kids Are All Id", he works in a British Queen bee and a Hebrew speaking bear, along with a monkey named Kqxhc (a returning character, from Loquat Rooftop's "No Nothin"). While the adults are nodding with significant approval, the kiddos will be chuckling mightily."

-Jeff Bogle / Out With The Kids (Preview)


"The Kids Are All Id is a family-friendly CD by Randy Kaplan, designed to appeal to listeners of all ages. Some of the tracks are timeless classics; others are original storytelling-songs; all blend delightful adventures with playful rhythms and flippant humor. Kids and adults alike are sure to enjoy the clever compositions. The Kids Are All Id is especially fun to listen to on car trips or other excursions with young ones."

-Midwest Book Review


"My five year old son was in a bad mood, upset that I wouldn’t let him wear dress shoes with shorts to go to the park. Then, he stopped to listen to the title track of Randy Kaplan’s The Kids Are Al Id CD. 'That’s a funny song,' he said as he laid down on his back to listen to more. A couple of minutes later, my middle child came in, just in time to hear Kaplan’s version of the traditional "The Derby Ram," and he commented (to me), 'Write this down. My son said that is really good music.'

"I must tell you that my kids product test a lot of the music I review, but this time was different because they floated in without invitations and had immediately positive reactions. Frankly, you shouldn’t need more convincing commentary from here on out, but I’ll deliver a little more because this album of original songs and cover tunes has the effect of a Sunday sidewalk performance that becomes an afternoon’s highlight for normally jaded pedestrians.

"Playing off the success of 2008’s Loquat Rooftop, the singer-songwriter culls 17 pieces of music from the various levels of his and his family’s consciousness (thus the reference to the “id”). From the folk friendliness of “My Little Laugh” to the wacky grooviness of “Is She a Girl or is She a Monkey,” Kaplan keeps the playful vibe going throughout. Much like his kid radio hit “No Nothing” from the Loquat recording, “Don’t You Leave Me Here” is a star track for the way Kaplan turns the traditional blues composition into a comedic play about a kid being left with the babysitter (complete with the character voices of a mom, babysitter, and child).

"The diverse treats on this album never end. Kaplan offers up a language lesson in a story song on “The Hebrew Speaking Bear,” brings the books of Ezra Jack Keats to life on three tracks, including the linguistically clever “Dream Hat,” and beautifully personalizes the Bob Dylan classic “Forever Young.”

"I often get carried away in calling albums one of the best of the year, but for all of its ability to capture children’s perspectives and parents’ experiences this one is one of the best I have ever heard. You need to hear it too."

-Gregory Keer / Family Man Online


"Super singer/storyteller Randy Kaplan is the thinking kids' musician. He is no ordinary kids' music performer. Oh, sure, he may sing about monkeys, bears and queen bees, but on his latest CD he also has my kids asking me to explain Freud, the definition of Hebrew terms, and even why someone might be happier with no money. In other words, if you've got a precocious, question-everything kid, meet the perfect CD to get them thinking while they sing along.

"Following up his much-beloved Loquat Rooftop, The Kids Are All Id kicks off with the bouncy banjo-y My Little Laugh about a kid who laughs at adversity and cries when happy. From there, the CD covers everything from The Herbrew-Speaking Bear who can kibbitz with the best of them, to Is She a Girl or Is She a Monkey, a smooth-as-silk song that describes my middle child to a T. Randy sings and talks his way through an hour-long potpourri of music and stories.

"My favorite song on the CD, The Kid is All Id, is a sort of parental rap for anyone who has lived through the toddler years. It includes the best, most-surprising reference to weaning that had me spit-laugh the first time I heard it.

"And I love his imaginative trio of songs Whistle for Willie, Dream Hat and I Like Cacti which are inspired by the lovely Ezra Jack Keats' picture books. It all ends with a wistful cover of Forever Young which is the perfect closing for a CD that appeals to the smart side of kids, as well as their parents."

-Christina / Cool Mom Picks


"Late 1960's hippies (mostly in their early-to-late sixties) will enjoy their grandchildren’s new Randy Kaplan CD, The Kids Are All Id. The first song¸ “My Little Laugh,” immediately brings Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” to mind, a fond reminder of a long-gone time and a fun lesson about being responsible for our own feelings. Randy Kaplan is not Arlo Guthrie, and doesn’t try to be. Folksy (“The Derby Ram”) and bluesy (“Dream Hat”) songs are sung, along with other influences, all performed with the sensibility of a Catskills comedian, if you can imagine that. Kaplan’s songs are stories, and he includes charming narrative with which kids can identify. Employing a variety of voices and clever lyrics, he thoroughly entertains throughout the CD's 17 songs.

"The Kids Are All Id (the title track could be the anthem of frustrated parents everywhere) includes songs inspired by books by Ezra Jack Keats. With a few minor lyric changes, it also contains the Gershwins' “I Got Plenty of Nothing,” Dave Van Ronk’s “Don’t You Leave Me Here” (bringing back Greenwich Village memories), Harold Rome’s “The Money Song,” and one of my favorites—Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.” George Washington’s favorite song, “The Derby Ram,” has undergone some modernization to appeal to twenty-first-century kids. Whether or not Kaplan has been influenced by “Weird Al” Yankovic, his “The Kid Is All Id” sounds like it could have been ripped from Yankovic's songbook (this is high praise).

"Known for his cover of the Rolling Stone’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which is a rambling story with a rock song thrown in to shake it up, Kaplan captivates with his not-quite-perfect voice and somewhat-off-center sense of humor... The Kids Are All Id hits the mark with a selection of songs that won’t drive parents to distraction. You won’t hear Barney singing them, but that’s a good thing... The Kids Are All Id (is) funky enough and just far enough out there that I can enjoy it without disturbing the kids with whom I’m supposed to share it."

-Miss Bob Etier / Kiddie Korner


"Kids who laugh at bee stings, a Hebrew-speaking bear who eats shoelaces, a monkey-like girl and George Washington’s favorite giant sheep inspire the songs on Randy Kaplan’s third not-just-for-kids music release, The Kids Are All Id. The Parent Picks poll on Nickelodeon’s Parentsconnect just named it as one of five Best Kids’ Music CDs of 2010. From the first song, “My Little Laugh,” in which a kid’s emotional responses are all topsy turvy, it’s apparent that Randy Kaplan’s slant on life is a little different. Offering a Woody Guthrie-esque style that blends a chatty kind of storytelling with an eclectic range of rootsy music, Kaplan paints a humorous and poignant picture with every track. Highlights include his takes on all-time classics: “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’” from the Gershwin musical Porgy & Bess, “The Money Song” (a Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis gem), “The Derby Ram,” an old British folk song which was supposedly George Washington’s favorite. The CD ends with “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan, which Kaplan says “is as much of a blessing as a song.” Other original songs demonstrate Kaplan’s empathy with the plights of childhood. “The Kid Is All Id” explores the psychology of tantrum-throwing, self-absorbed kids, and their maniacal genius. Any kid with a babysitter will relate to “Don’t You Leave Me Here.” Kaplan’s interview with a toddler named Julian (after they watch the entirety of Wagner’s Das Rheingold together) becomes “This Guy.” And “Joe and Finn” celebrates the simple playtime joys of a friendship between 3 year olds."

-Andrea / Mommy PR


"Randy Kaplan goes about (kids' music) in a slightly different way and I'm a big fan of this. The songs may be written with kids in mind, but there's a little kid in all of us and that's who it's aimed us. Not little kids, but all kids. So there's no real concession to age. Take 'the Hebrew Speaking Bear (Heave Ho)' which I'm sure I've heard on a Tom Waits album. Sort of an Eastern European Praguean device. 'Little Bee' has comedy Bee voices set against a jazz pavement cafe orchestra and a tall tale about the Queen Bee who can sting more than once. 'The Kid is all ID' goes all Freudian on a toddler and ends up Emineming on the kid... The lovely 'Whistle for Willie' is a one-man-and-his-dachshund song which will have your kids whistling all over the place (or laugh trying)... The last track is a lovely take on Dylan's 'Forever Young'. Sometimes context is key. The song doesn't normally float my boat but here, as a closer to an album aimed at kids, it finaly makes sense to me... Americanisations put aside - I like this a lot - and so does my boy Bear, and that's the important part."

-Andrew Williams / Americana-UK


"Part rockin' jams, part comedy act, Randy Kaplan is hilarious! The title track of this CD will make you LOL with lyrics like "You've been a little tyrant since you've been off of the boob." It's a song every parent of a toddler (and beyond!) can relate to! (Oh, and the kids dig him, too!)"

-Nickelodeon Parents' Pick CD Review


LOQUAT ROOFTOP (2008)

"Roots rocker Randy Kaplan is one of those happy-they-exist people you can't quite tell is playing kids' music. And yet he is... He is absolutely worth a listen when he shows up at Symphony Space... He'll introduce kids to authentic-sounding originals as well as Tin Pan Alley numbers, Broadway showstoppers, and Delta blues."

-New York Magazine


"What's a loquat? It turns out that it's an Asian fruit, but it's also the subject of a song by Randy Kaplan... whose music combines rock, blues and stories."

-The New York Times


"Singer/storyteller Randy Kaplan crafts a brassy, old-timey collection with subjects from "The Fire Engine" ("It's big, it’s red / It's metal with water") to laundry camp ("Clothes Dryer"). "The Ladybug Without Spots" showcases Kaplan's bluesy storytelling. (Top 10 Children's CDs of 2008)"

-National Public Radio (NPR)


"Kaplan returns with more of the half-singing, half-storytelling style that made his first kids' CD, Five Cent Piece, such fun. His musical tales—which follow such interesting characters as a cat named Nothing and a ladybug with no spots—slip into more varied genres this time around, with elements of Spanish guitar and New Orleans–style jazz trumpets added in along the way."

-Christopher Healy / COOKIE MAGAZINE


"This has been a banner year for family music, with all kinds of unusual choices, sometimes from already famous artists and often from artists who should be famous. Randy Kaplan is of the latter variety, as his second children's album, Loquat Rooftop attests. A singer-songwriter who bounces between New York and California, Kaplan carries his eclectic interests in roots rock, folk, blues, standards, and theater onto this CD. Listening to this recording feels like hanging out with a guy who's playing what he loves and making it completely his own, especially on classics such as country legend Hank Williams's "Move It On Over" and Annie's Broadway chesnut, "Tomorrow." Although I hesitate to do much comparing, Kaplan shares a subtly subversive playfulness in his original compositions with Peter Himmelman, as evidenced by story-songs of "The Sour Song" and "No Nothing." Then, when you get to the footstomping revelry of "Boogie Woogie Washer Woman" and the elegantly starry title tune, it's easy to conclude that this is a musician bravely taking kids to a textured world of music history and contemporary inventiveness."

-Gregory Keer / FAMILYMANONLINE.com


"Randy Kaplan is another artist taking elements of folk, blues and rock and delivering an amazing collection of songs. Loquat Rooftop, his second release for children, gets the kids up and ready with the bluesy, twangy "Good Morning Blues." "Clothes Dryer" carries you away to a lazy summer day in the Louisiana bayou, as Kaplan sings the story of how he learned how to wash his clothes. And if you’ve wondered what it would sound like if someone sang "Charlie Brown" at the Grand Ole Opry, you can hear it here. There’s even a great rendition (with kids singing along) of "Move It On Over." Stick around for the end of the disc as he offers up a slow and lovely mandolin and horn version of "Tomorrow." Loquat Rooftop wraps up very nicely with the slide guitar- and harmonica-heavy song "Gotta Get Gone." Randy Kaplan has a gift of performing songs with lyrics kids will enjoy and music their parents will really dig."

-CHATTANOOGAPARENTMAGAZINE.com


"Randy Kaplan is a very clever singer, mostly from Brooklyn though he's recently apparently hit the road and is wandering between Brooklyn, Colorado, and California. His first record, Five Cent Piece, had some very funny songs, most notably the tale of the shark who appeared in Randy's tub, demanding, "Shampoo Me," which invariably causes intense giggling in our house. Loquat Rooftop is similarly funny, with "No Nothing" (about a cat named Nothing and some other oddly-monikered critters) and "Clothes Dryer" (in which he reminisces about laundry camp), along with some cool covers (Charlie Brown, Move It On Over). The CD has some sweet moments, too, most notably with the title track evoking a summer evening in the city enjoying the Asian fruit called a loquat. The music ranges from fairly straight-up folk to something with a more bluesy vibe, but, even in those familiar genres, nobody really sounds like him."

-LITTLEROCKFAMILY.com via Bill Childs / SPARETHEROCK.com


"Some of the best music ever composed is often thought of as such because of its ability to, either with it's rich lyrical content (i.e., "Bob Dylan") or passionate instrumentation (i.e., Miles Davis), conjure up vivid images in the listener's mind. While a kiddie rock songwriter may trade visions of Johanna for those of a cinnamon gum ladybug, this same measuring stick of quality is true of music written for the single digit crowd.

"Much like the greats who can be referred to simply by one name (Woody, Seeger, Dylan, Cher - ha!) Randy Kaplan is a dude who knows how to use words as brushstrokes. The picturesque songs of "Loquat Rooftop" radiate warmth, thanks in large part to his uniquely familiar voice and his front porch style of music. His is the musical equivalent of comfort food. Kaplan's tunes are humorous yet sincere with characters who dance happily in your imagination. He is the John Prine of the children's music scene with lyrics as sharp as an aged cheddar, wit to spare and a delivery that's the perfect marriage of singing and speaking.

"Loquat Rooftop" is his second (not just for) kid's record, and is filled with an eclectic mix of traditional tunes, famous covers ("Charlie Brown", "Tomorrow" from Broadway's Annie, Hank Williams' "Move it on Over"), and fabulous folky-jazzy-bluesy originals yet remains centered around the terrific, sentimental title track. With its gentle, finger-picked acoustic guitar, breezy harmonica and hot summer's day imagery, "Loquat Rooftop" is one of the best kid's songs released this year (I would've sworn Kaplan was singing about a fictitious fruit but it turns out that loquats are real!).

"Mike West, Kaplan's producer, penned the 2nd best cut on the record in "Clothes Dryer". The track features street festival horns that pop and includes the best sing along chorus on the disc in "...Clothes Dryer, ain't we got a line, ain't we got a yard full of sunshine". Spot OWTK on the road this month and you'll likely see us all silently screaming out those words.

"Kaplan is only two records into his kid's music career, yet I already feel comfortable placing him on the top shelf alongside Justin Roberts and Frances England. I'm stoked to hear what he has in store on future (not just for) kid's releases.

"Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Loquat Rooftop, either physically or digitally, right now."

-Jeff / OUTWITHTHEKIDS.com


"Randy Kaplan's debut kids' album, Five Cent Piece, was one of the coolest totally out-of-left-field things I've discovered since doing this blog... Randy always adds much of his own originality and personality and style and humor...and I can't imagine anyone else doing that kind of thing as well as Randy does for a kids audience... Like its predecessor, Loquat Rooftop includes some originals and some covers...but a significant thing about this new album is that the originals are the real standouts this time around... The feeling of enjoyment is always first and foremost with these originals...And some of the new originals are more straightforward sounding and are quite beautiful, like the title track (the melody of which reminds me a lot of a song that I'm not sure I've ever heard before), "(Don't Say) Anything At All" (I love how he demonstrates what he's talking about with his little kid voices between the verses) and "Gotta Get Gone", the bluesy closing number.

"A great thing about Randy is that he is not afraid to be downright silly with his voices and jokes when he knows that will serve the material and the intended audience. And by the intended audience, I don't just mean kids... adults eat up well-crafted goofiness, too (Monty Python, Steve Martin during his standup career, the Airplane!/Naked Gun movies, etc.). Certainly, this adult and his wife have laughed out loud many times while listening to this album. Some things like "The Sour Song" are kind of one-time laughs, as brilliant as they are, but other things are funny again and again, and Randy's eloquently witty wordplay and vocal phrasing is always a joy to listen to. He has a real knack for comedy and entertaining through his music, and I can't wait to hear what he'll come up with next."

-Eric Herman / COOLTUNESFORKIDS.com


"It is possible that Brooklyn-based Randy Kaplan could become, if he wanted to, the next Dan Zanes, playing for the moms and dads a mixture of blues and rock that works well for both the kids and adults. But on Loquat Rooftop, his second album for kids, Kaplan continues to follow his own idiosyncratic path that...shows off both his musical and storytelling chops...Loquat Rooftop's mixture of blues and folk-rock, laced with good humor and heart, will appeal to many kids and their adults. Definitely recommended."

-S.A. Shepherd / ZOOGLOBBLE.com


"Randy Kaplan brings a twangy, southern feel to several classic songs (including Tomorrow, which I played again and again, reliving Annie dreams, and Charlie Brown) and lots of originals (No Nothing was a huge favorite in our car and has been referred to and resung often.) With a mix of folk and alternative, and a little bit of pop ("Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow...") this is a CD I'm certain will be played for quite some time. Buy it or download the album."

-MOMMIESWITHSTYLE.com


"I've never thought of the Blues as particularly cheerful until I heard Brooklyn's Randy Kaplan sing Good Morning Blues, the first song on Loquat Rooftop. Amidst the amazingly nimble-fingered guitar work, I heard him ask, Good morning blues....blues How do you do? to which a little voice shouted back, Good...hungry!

"It's that happy-go-lucky feel throughout that had me wishing that Randy was sitting in our living room telling his stories directly to the kids. Songs like the hilariously odd No Nothing has a catchy chorus which makes me croon, I know nothing, you know nothing all day long. And, there is a whole funky orchestra of instruments on this CD, from harmonica to trombone to banjo which crank out music that is so darned good you won't care that this is a kids' CD. The tempo goes from the fast-and-furious Mazal Mazal, the little girl with a "laugh so loud it bounces off the moon", to the smooth and mellow title song. There are even a few covers which Randy makes into his own, like the bad-boy Charlie Brown, which, interestingly, is my son's favorite.

"With a unique ability to create great songs out of such everyday matter as laundry and ladybugs, I'm hopeful that Randy will be putting out CD's as long as my kids like to hear stories. And then some."

-Christina / COOLMOMPICKS.com

"Ed note: This is absolutely one of my top ten favorite new kids albums of the year. So worth a listen."

-Liz / COOLMOMPICKS.com


"Randy Kaplan's highly acclaimed first children's CD, Five Cent Piece, firmly established him in the kids' music scene with glowing reviews from children, parents, and critics alike. His second (not just for) kids' CD, Loquat Rooftop, is filled with twangy, good-natured songs that blend American roots, folk, alternative and pop. Randy's playful lyrics, skillful composition, and inviting vocals assure us that he's delighted to set the stage for a perfect all-ages listening session."

-POKEYPUP.com


"Though family-friendly, Randy Kaplan's music CD album Loquat Rooftop is not just for kids. Featuring vibrant, original blues/folk-rock songs that flirt with whimsical lyrics and toe-tapping rhythms, Loquat Rooftop makes a most delightful holiday gift. The tracks are "Good Morning Blues", "Clothes Dryer", "Mazal Mazal", "No Nothing", "Charlie Brown", "Move It On Over", "The Fire Engine", "Sweetie Pie Honeycake", "The Ladybug Without Spots", "Boogie Woogie Washer Woman", "Loquat Rooftop", "The Sour Song", "Go Tell Aunt Rhody", "(Don't Say) Anything at All", "Tomorrow", and "Gotta Get Gone". Highly recommended for all ages.

-MIDWESTBOOKREVIEW.com


"Some people go into a kids' album project with the idea that they have to become this goofy alter ego in order to appease the "children's music" preconception. Not so Randy Kaplan. No, Kaplan has a unique style, musically and lyrically, that translates smoothly to the kids' music world without having to change a thing... Randy is a storyteller at heart, and it really shows on Loquat Rooftop.

"As with "Over the Rainbow" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want" on last year's Five Cent Piece, Kaplan knows how to pick just the right cover songs, tunes that you think would be too hokey to make the cut on a kids' record, but are somehow transformed into classic singalongs. This time 'round, "Tomorrow", from Annie, is given the sweetest treatment you'll ever hear, while versions of Leadbelly's "Good Morning Blues", Leiber & Stoller's "Charlie Brown" and Hank Williams' "Move It On Over" rock enough to make yer kids wanna explore the originals...

"Loquat Rooftop is Kaplan at his best: Memories; images, figurative and literal; sights, sounds, smells, flavors, textures; humor and fun ... all in the form of a song. Randy is one of Brooklyn's hidden gems in the world of kids' music. Get to know him before he breaks out bigtime."

-Warren Truitt / KIDSMUSICTHATROCKS.com


"The songs of Randy Kaplan are surreal, familiar and fun. Deceptively folk and blues based children's songs, the tunes on "Loquat Rooftop" feature both adept finger-picking as well as lyrics that do not dumb down to his audience. That respect for storytelling and of kid's ability to "get it" is what makes Kaplan's music powerful and fun. It is in the tradition of folkies like Guthrie and Seeger, who spoke truth to power but also wrote songs for kids that let them in on the truth too...

"Throughout the sixteen song set, Kaplan's playing shows he has absorbed American folk, blues and country styles, and delivers his own history lessons with depth and passion. Loquat Rooftop is a fun summer record that the whole family can enjoy, one with wit and bite, and enough wisdom and daring to appease even the most jaded listener."

-Mike Wood / MUSICEMISSIONS.com


"As a proud parent of a 21-month old son, I can definitely appreciate wanting to write and compose tracks for children. Kaplan’s second children’s CD, “Loquat Rooftop” is once again produced by Kansas bluegrass legend Mike West (he also helped out on his ’06 gem, “Five Cent Piece”). Ranging from tales about ladybugs without polka dots to deploring the fact that our children have to inherit our mess... my kid loves it!

-J-Sin / SMOTHER.net


"Randy Kaplan may come from Brooklyn, but his music radiates with warm, Midwestern Americana. Kaplan's humorous story-songs "Clothes Dryer" and "The Ladybug Without Spots" suggest a family-style Arlo Guthrie. His charming original tunes like "Loquat Rooftop" and the revved-up "Mazal Mazal" combine with inspired covers (from Leadbelly's "Good Morning Blues" to the Leiber-Stoller classic "Charlie Brown" and Annie's "Tomorrow") to make Kaplan's sophomore disc a pure pleasure for kids and parents."

-PARENTHOOD.com


"A mixture of blues and folk-rock. Humorous stories and lyrics from "The Ladybug Without Spots" to a punk style "Mazal Mazal". A variety of classic singalongs: a sweet "Tomorrow" from Annie, Leadbelly's "Good Morning Blues", Hank Williams' "Move It On Over", and "Charlie Brown". With interesting originals that shine. They combine a raspy voice with a strangeness that captivates and entertains. A joy to listen to."

-ATOZKIDSSTUFF.com


FIVE CENT PIECE (2006)

"Brooklyn's Randy Kaplan hits the mark with his first release for kids, Five Cent Piece, which combines a gloriously wacky collection of oldies (and originals)."

-Susan Avery / NEW YORK MAGAZINE


"One of the most exciting newcomers to kids' music since Dan Zanes, Kaplan's debut is full of rollicking folk tunes."

-E.M. / PARENTING MAGAZINE


"With a bunch of groupies under the age of five... Kaplan, who released five CDs for grown ups before putting out his first kids' album, is continuing to celebrate with performances that all of his fans can enjoy. Five Cent Piece, a mix of Kaplan's own original work as well as covers of Mom and Dad's favorites, will have ears of all ages perking up. Parents will appreciate classic Stones with "You Can't Always Get What You Want," while their offspring may lean more towards songs about city apartment inhabitants - namely mosquitoes and roaches. The lyrics are silly - "they're tryin' on your underwear, checkin' out your grocery list, reading your copy of Metamorphosis" - and parents will laugh too, getting the joke that's years over their kids' heads."

-Sophie Friedman / TIME OUT NEW YORK KIDS


"Randy has one of the most interesting voices I've ever heard... He shares some of the nasal twang as singers like Michael Stipe and Arlo Guthrie, and there's also just a bit of grit in there, as if his vocal chords forgot to shake their shoes out after a day at the beach... "Over the Rainbow" is one of those songs like "Unchained Melody" or "O Holy Night", where I thought it would need a particularly virtuoso vocalist to pull it off, but Randy's version is one of the most beautiful I've ever heard. The earthy twang of his voice along with the gently rolling guitar may not be in perfect pitch or perfect intonation, and yet it is so "just right" in every deeply soulful sense that really matters... "Roaches" is very pleasant musically, but a bit disturbing as it describes an apartment where roaches are everywhere, even on the bookshelf reading Kafka (of course). The song ends with the roaches singing in a way that sounds almost like vocal slide guitar... It's the little details during his song commentary, the warm and welcoming feeling of the music, and the instantly engaging and friendly nature of Randy's voice and character that makes this such a winning recording."

-Eric Herman / CoolTunesForKids.blogspot.com


"(Kaplan's) debut (kids') CD is a mix of well-chosen (and often reworked) covers and skewed originals... With his mixture of somewhat different arrangements, traditional bluegrass and folk instrumentation, affinity for storytelling, and wide choice of covers... Kaplan has fashioned one of the more unusual kids and family albums of the year, good for chilly winter afternoons or late summer days. Recommended."

-S.A. Shepherd / ZOOGLOBBLE.com


"Straight outta Park Slope, Brooklyn, Randy Kaplan presents an eclectic collection of covers and originals on one of his newest CDs, Five Cent Piece. Released on his own Yellow Thing Records & Books label, Five Cent Piece runs the musical gamut from Judy Garland to the Stones, from Woody Guthrie to Jonathan Richman. Now, remember, kids' albums aren't meant to be the only source of musical history, so the fact that Kaplan includes a song made famous by the Rev. Gary Davis, two songs by legendary lyricist Yip Harburg, and another from the Bye Bye Birdie soundtrack doesn't mean he meant for you to ONLY listen to his version. It's an invitation to explore, to find out more about music and it's history and sources.

"Kaplan's performance and style could most easily be compared to Arlo Guthrie; and, coincidentally or no, he covers songs by Woody and by Arlo, plus his 10-minute "You Can't Always Get What You Want" resembles Arlo's album side-long "Alice's Restaurant". The bohemian bluegrass/dixieland played by Kaplan and his extremely cohesive and talented band tie together the varying song sources into a unified package, so that Jonathan Richman's "I'm a Little Dinosaur", Elizabeth Cotton's "Freight Train", and "We're In the Same Boat, Brother" (made popular by Leadbelly), all sound like they were performed at the same sitting. Plus, his rendition of "Over the Rainbow" has to be THE sweetest you'll ever hear.

"His originals are wildly original, showcasing Kaplan's love of the narrated song: a shark interrupts bathtime with a request to "Shampoo Me", the "Mosquito Song" details a conversation with a certain bloodsucker, and the "Roaches" that occupy Kaplan's apartment are into Kafka's "The Metamorphosis". And kids'll get a big laff out of his original lyrics to "Donut Song".

"Dig the packaging and layout: Kaplan's profile graces the giant nickel design on the CD itself, while several street signs and storefronts in the foldout will be recognizable to Brooklynites. Lots of time and effort by Kaplan and fellow musician Tom Johnson went into the cover, which almost always means great music waits inside...

"Kaplan's first kids' CD... after releasing five for grownups will no doubt be equally loved by tots and their adults."

-Warren Truitt / KIDSMUSICTHATROCKS.com


"Randy Kaplan once again reminds us of the difference between childish and childlike. His folk songs for children are honest and ring true, and retain a childlike wonder at the ways of the world. To remain in awe even in the dark times is a sign of someone on the right road... Kaplan covers some children's classics, and his originals have the same sense of wonder and directness of the best songs for kids. Never talking down to them, singing to them in a raspy voice as a friend, as if they are in on the story, not just waiting to be taught. Kaplan covers "You Cant Always Get What You Want," with altered lyrics of course, since kids want slightly different things than did Mick and Keith. Even "Over The Rainbow" is given new life here... Kaplan is as trustworthy a guide through childhood as you'll find, at least musically. Everyone needs this record."

-Mike Wood / MUSICEMISSIONS.com


"One of my favorite things about Five Cent Piece is that the CD itself looks like a giant nickel. But it sounds even better than it looks... Kaplan's original songs, including "Mosquito Song" and "Shampoo Me," are as imaginative and rambling as a pre-schooler, and musically brilliant. The folksy acoustic sound throughout Five Cent Piece is beautifully mixed. Again, this is an amazing album."

-Amy Davis / LOVELYDAVIS.blogspot.com


"Following up his stupendous "Perfect Gentleman" album with an album that's for children and adults who still like their music fun and sing-along-able Kaplan covers such children's classics as "Over the Rainbow", "Kids" of 'Bye Bye Birdie' fame, "I'm a Little Dinosaur", and "You Can't Always Get What You Want". His own originals are just as entertaining and fun for both adult and child. My own 5-month-old son really loved this album. Thanks Randy!"

-J-Sin / SMOTHER.net


"Guitarist Randy Kaplan knows something about kids -- to the toddlers of Park Slope, Brooklyn, he's as recognizable as Elmo from his coffee house morning shows and pre-K gigs. But as his first record for children shows, he's also an excellent musician and songwriter. Kaplan combines refreshingly straightforward takes on traditional folk songs... It's territory familiar to Dan Zanes fans, but wittier, with less of the folk-music-is-good-for-you attitude. Then there are Kaplan's own compositions, like "Mosquito Song" and "Roaches", with menacing man-bug dialogues to make parents squirm and kids cackle... The real surprise is the sensitivity of the arrangements, as on Bridget Law's plaintive violin solo for "Over the Rainbow." Thankfully, unlike Ralph Covert, Kaplan goes easy on background singing from kids; here, less is more. "Five Cent Piece" is a welcome release for parents who've had enough Laurie Berkner for one lifetime. "

-M.J. Wilson / WORDPRESS.com


"Five Cent Piece combines twangy pop covers and Kaplan's own endearing tunes in a 17-track set both four-year-olds and their parents can relate to. In Kaplan's hands, the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" becomes a lesson in kiddie compromise, and the popular ditty "Roaches" slips in references to Kafka's Metamorphosis... He doesn't dumb it down for the kids... He just expects them to come along for the ride. And they do."

-Irene Bradish / TIME OUT NEW YORK KIDS


"I beg you, dear parents: This album is as vital a part of your child’s proper development as milk, sunshine and challenging established orthodoxies... a masterwork."

-Thurston Dooley III / THE BROOKLYN PAPER

 

LIVE PERFORMANCES

"If there is a more challenging artist working the seamy birthday party and Park Slope Parents hootenanny circuit than Randy Kaplan, I have not met his acquaintance. Kaplan’s great gift for kid-centric blues-rock was on display yet again at Park Slope’s Southpaw during a happy hour gig on Sunday afternoon (it was happy hour for the adults; the target audience limited itself to sippy cups and juiceboxes).

"I found myself, as always, unable to adequately praise Kaplan, who, in just a few years, he has established himself as the premiere act on the circuit. Where other saccharine-set stars sing about space ships and moon-shaped pizzas, Kaplan plumbs the truth of today’s childhood experience. He sings of roaches scurrying behind your walls. He sings of mosquitoes. He sings of having the blues (albeit for grape juice).

"Kaplan is a modern-day Leadbelly crossed with just enough Laurie Berkner to maintain the childish merriment. Indeed, one of his biggest sing-along numbers is his pre-teen version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” In Kaplan’s version, the “want” is no Jagger-esque masculine longing, but a just-as-passionate wish for pancakes and Halloween candy. The kids in the audience must relate, because the number never fails to inspire the 6-year-olds to sing along. If you can get 50 6-year-olds to sing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” the treats they crave, you know you’re hitting kids where they live.

"Kaplan may never become a kids music ambassador like the lovable Dan Zanes. And he won’t sell records like the Wiggles. But his is the true voice of discord and subversion. Where other singers pull out “This Land is Your Land,” Kaplan is more likely to sing about a shark slithering up though the sewer system and demanding, “Shampoo me!” Where other songwriters limit their lyrics to circuses or taxi rides, Kaplan has a new song in which he bemoans an unruly cat because its claws are too close to a “Chagall lithograph I inherited from my grandma.” We all know such animals, but only Randy Kaplan writes about them."

Thurston Dooley III / THE BROOKLYN PAPER


"The event’s finale (featured) the incredibly witty and talented Randy Kaplan. Randy’s act can only be described as the height of cool, as he sang in humorous voices and used turns of phrases with an ease that totally enchanted the audience."

-Christine Peake / LA Charity Examiner


"Have you ever had one of those amazing experiences that you're pretty sure will play a part in how your kid chooses to live the rest of his/her life? Today was one of those days for me. The best analogy I can come up is that Randy Kaplan is the Arrested Development of children's music--brilliant, laugh-out-loud funny, and way ahead of his time.
-Melissa Skabich / Fits N Giggles


"Randy Kaplan is the current king of the storysong, and his magic is best witnessed live. Great example of grownup music for kids, kids' music for grownups."

-Warren Truitt / KIDSMUSICTHATROCKS.com


"Absolutely enjoyable... Kaplan has a knack for communicating directly with his audience... playing with his phrasing and reelin' 'em in."

-MUSICIANS' EXCHANGE; New York City


"(Kaplan) also performs songs penned by his grandfather in the 20's. (He) has gone on to become a familiar face on the West Coast circuit and his Delta blues/country/folk blend of styles is the perfect medium for his John Prine-like sense of humor... downright refreshing."

-THE MUSIC PAPER; New York City


"Little adoring fans sat around performer Randy Kaplan yesterday, listening intently to all of the lyrics of his songs. Some swayed gently back and forth, others danced side by side with a friend. Everyone seemed extremely happy to be with Randy in the park... After the concert, Randy was surrounded by quite a crowd of little ones, all wanting to get close to their idol. It was actually super sweet to watch."

-PARDONMEFORASKING


"If there is another recording artist who is mining the dark recesses of the child’s imagination — that nether nether land betwixt reason and madness — as well as Randy Kaplan, I have certainly not had the pleasure of his acquaintance. Kaplan is a national treasure who brings a sly wink to the art of kid’s music. I was reminded of that during Kaplan’s packed concert in Carroll Park on Wednesday afternoon. At the show, he played track after track from his master work “Five Cent Piece,” the 2006 album that established him as the black sheep of that irritatingly large flock of Raffi wannabes.

—Thurston Dooley III / THE BROOKLYN PAPER



 
   
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