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A brilliant bridge to the blues

CD: Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie, Randy Kaplan

Randy Kaplan’s best CD yet, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie, is a brilliant bridge to the past, making historical blues accessible to contemporary kids. His kid-friendly language and themes maintain the integrity of the blues form, while softening the adult lyrics of the originals.

Spoken word tracks set historical context by namedropping blues greats. Robert Johnson’s “They’re Red Hot” gets a spicy Dixieland treatment. Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Jackson Blues” softens into “Runaway Blues” with no loss of edge.

My favorite cut reimagines Jimmie Rodgers’ “In the Jailhouse Now” as the tale of a Long Island treehouse (“on the ground for insurance purposes”) and a bully “In a Timeout Now.”

It’s complete with yodeling breaks. Kaplan’s adept musicianship and easy delivery make this a blues album for everyone. It just happens to be aimed at kids.


"Ice Cream Man Rag," from Diddie Wah Diddie


SONG: “Trick or Treat” by Justin Roberts (from the CD Jungle Gym)

Justin Roberts’ “Trick or Treat” is a non-scary Halloween song. It captures the anticipation, fun and (ultimately) candy that mark Oct. 31 with lines like, “My brother stands on a chair ‘cause he’s shorter…puts every piece in alphabetical order.”


“Trick or Treat,” performed at Kindiefest in 2010


EVENT: Drumline Live

Kids ages 10 and up might check out Drumline Live at the Merriam Theater, Phila., Oct. 17 and 18. It’s a noisy, rhythmic two nights promising “a showdown of rhythm and speed featuring the best of historically black college and university marching bands” as  students march, drum and dazzle.


Scene from a 2011 performance of Drumline Live


Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of Kids Corner, weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.

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