KidTunes: Dog on Fleas is Doggone Good
Do you pick out the musical influences when you listen to a new album? Good luck with The Bestest of the Best from Dog on Fleas. Sounds like jazz, blues…bluegrass? Keep going. Sort of Randy Newmanish, but is that John Sebastian? Elvis? Rudy Vallee? Wait…I hear zydeco. When you take all those things and put them together what is it? A mess? Nope. It’s fun—not quiet-time music, definitely not lullabies—songs that kids can enjoy for the words, the wordplay, and the rhythms just made for movement.
Dean Jones (vocals, guitars, trombone, keyboards, percussion, drums, autoharp, conch shells, flutes, etc.), John Hughes (vocals, bass, guitar, conch shell), and Chris Cullo (drums, percussions, vocals) are Dog on Fleas. The group has been around for ten years and have a half dozen CDs to their credit. Some of the songs on The Bestest of the Best are from their early albums that are no longer in print, some are favorites from their others CDs, and others are rerecorded versions of the originals.
The important thing to understand about Dog on Fleas is that they really seem to enjoy making music. That enjoyment translates to songs with humorous lyrics and clever arrangements. There are songs about bathtime (“Rub a Dub”), math (“Twistification”), bedtime (“Goodnight, Fudge”), animals, fruit and vegetables, and one that moms (in particular) will love, “Crawl to Your Mother.” Adults will appreciate the silly wordplay of “The Moon Song,” in which song titles and moon-related phrases run together, and “Dig,” a song that expounds on the meaning to dig, as in like.
Playing on The Bestest of the Best with Dog on Fleas are Debbie Lan (vocals, piano), David Levine (vocals, fiddle, mandolin, banjo) and Shane Kirsch (saxes, flute, vocals), as well as two dozen other artists, including Elizabeth Mitchell. The result of all these musicians working together is a collection of 20 kidtunes that will have the kids (and some adults) singing along.
Bottom Line: Would I buy The Bestest of the Best of Dog on Fleas? You don’t think I would resist an album with a song about a dog from New Jersey, do you? (That’s a "yes, I'd buy." I’m just not gonna try to categorize ‘em.)