Awards

Boston Children's Music A Frog Named Sam
Boston Children's Music
Favorite Kids Albums 2009
www.bostonchildrensmusic.com

Boston Children's Music Award Ben Rudnick & Friends
Boston Children's Music
Favorite Live Performance 2009
www.bostonchildrensmusic.com

Parents' Choice
Foundation

A Frog Named Sam
Parents' Choice Winner
Recommended Fall 2009
www.parents-choice.org




Creative Child
Awards

A Frog Named Sam
2009 Preferred Choice Award



A Frog Named Sam
Mr. Dad Seal of Approval
Father's Day 2009
Mr. Dad Website

Clever, fun, entertaining songs that kids will love to sing along with. Best of all, they're musically interesting enough for adults to keep you from tearing your hair out after the 300th time through.

iParenting Media

A Frog Named Sam
2009 Excellent Product
www.iparentingmedia.com
IMA Vox Populi Grace's Bell
The POPULAR VOTE is in... Grace's Bell has WON the best Children's Music ALBUM category of the 7th Annual IMA Vox Populi contest. Now that's cool!
More info on Indy Award
T-Shirt Award!

BR&F T-Shirts
Kids Pick Award
www.hilltownfamilies.org

We sent them a T-Shirt, they sent us an award! Check out their site full of radio shows, reviews and see all the other shirts that were entered in their contest.

"Without a doubt, Ben Rudnick & Friends design was one of the top three designs amongst our "Official Reviewers," getting the most positive comments out of all submitted t-shirts. This design pulled off the blend of color and graphic design that appealed most to the kids. "I like the pink in the middle and red in a circle," commented Antonia (age 5) of Florence, MA. "I like the cool guitar and the three eyes!" shared Jaden (age 5)."

Check out our t-shirts!

Grace's Bell
Parent's Choice Approved Winner 2007
www.parents-choice.org

Ben Rudnick mixes up a happy batch of old songs ("Mama Don't 'Low," "Route 66") and originals ("Cowgirl Song," "Chet's Fabulous Diner).
Lynne Hefley - Parents' Choice

NAPPA Honors Grace's Bell
Grace's Bell
NAPPA Honors 2007
National Parenting Publications Awards
www.kidzmusic.com
Blast Off!
Children's Music Web Award: Winner 2005
Best Recording for Preschoolers ages 3 to 5
Best Recording for Younger Children ages 5 to 8
www.childrensmusic.org
Blast Off!
NAPPA Honors 2004
National Parenting Publications Awards
www.kidzmusic.com


Parents' Choice
Foundation

Blast Off!
Recommended by the Parents' Choice Foundation
in the Fall 2004 competition.
www.parents-choice.org

"The subjects of Ben Rudnick’s feel-good songs range from a trip to the stars ("Rocket Ship Man") and alien playmates ("I Got a New Friend") to a frisky fly ("Juicy Black Fly") and a celebration of the goofy and nifty things that kids love about fathers ("Dads Can Dance"). The songs themselves are pleasant and playful; the country and pop instrumentals are outstanding."
Lynne Heffley, Parents' Choice

Fun and Games
Silver Honors by the Parent's Choice Foundation,
in the Fall 2002 competition.
www.parents-choice.org

"Wheels, washing machines, hula hoops and the Earth itself "Spin" with exuberance in this happy smile of an album from Ben Rudnick. Tears turn to "Sun Showers," palm trees sway while a breezy tropical island night passes in "Twisting Low" and "Hopscotch" chases the blues away.

Rudnick's bouncy, colorful story songs, sung with neighborly warmth, are complemented by a smashing, multi-instrumental band of musicians."
- Lynne Heffley,
Parents' Choice

Emily Songs
Approved by Parents Choice, Fall 2001

Emily Songs was been Approved by The Parents Choice Foundation, (www.parents-choice.org), in the Fall 2001 competition.

The country's oldest and most respected nonprofit guide to children's media, Parent's Choice strives to impart solid information about children's media products and toys that are on the market; helping parents and caregivers make informed decisions about which new products are right for their children.

THIS IS COOL! We really liked "Emily Songs" but being Approved by Parent's Choice makes us feel pretty good. October 25, 2001

 

John Lennon Songwriting Contest

"I Need A Hand", from Emily Songs was awarded an Honorable Mention in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest! June 30, 2001

Dr. Toy: Best of Vacation Products Awards for 2001

June 8, 2001 - "Emily Songs" was awarded one of Dr Toy's (www.drtoy.com) Best of Vacation Products Awards for 2001!

Dr. Toy, Stevanne Auerbach, phD, runs a non-profit organization which awards children's products she feels "offer children something extra for optimal learning, play and creativity and, of course fun".

This is like getting two thumbs up from your favorite movie critic!

 

Children's Music Web Award 2003: Fun & Games

Best Recording for Younger Children (Category 9)

Best Recording for Preschoolers (Category 3)

 

DiscoverySchool.Com, October 2002

Ben Rudnick & Friends: Fun and Games
Music Review Rating:

The Bottom Line:
This good-natured and unpretentious children's recording marries kid-pleasing lyrics with sophisticated musical stylings that will appeal to the entire family.

"Fun and Games is Ben Rudnick and Friends' second children's recording, and it's a real winner. Supporting the fun and sweet lyrics is a wonderful range of musical instruments that produce some very pleasing sounds. The twelve tracks on this recording offer kids a perfect backdrop for dancing, playing, and even winding down.

"Spin" is an easy favorite with its dance-along and spin-along rhythm--it's a celebration of everything that spins, including the Sun, Moon, bowling balls, and hula hoops!

A kid-favorite comfort food is the main focus in "Macaroni and Cheese"; and "Jessica's Song" is a tender and loving tune dedicated to a special young girl ("so wild a smile, you can't hide your love").

We were especially charmed by the lovely instrumentals in Fun and Games. In fact, the recording includes more instrumental interludes than can be found in most children's albums. This helps make the recording ideal for playtime.

"Sailor's Hornpipe", for example, is a playful and rich instrumental version--featuring the mandolin, accordion, and banjo--of a seagoing classic. The range of instruments on the recording adds richness to the story-songs and the quality of the album as a whole helps draw in parents. In fact, Fun and Games is as easy on adults' ears as it is on those of its target audience.

Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies plays the harmonica, bobby whistle, cowbell, and wood blocks on the recording, and Margo Timmins, also from the band, sings the outstanding lullaby, "Everything is Alright"--an enormously soothing song that parents will happily add to their children's bedtime routines."


 

 

Quotes From The Press

"...he and the band are so musically gifted that they almost create their own style of music. "
~ Dave Loftin, Chattanooga Parent Paper

“Ben Rudnick has a conversational singing style that's instantly engaging, an ear for an infectious tune (and beat), and an affinity for fun-to-sing lyrics."
~ Disney's Family Fun Magazine

“The words catchy and irrepressible just begin to describe the string-band music uncorked by a quintet of gifted instrumentalists.” ~ Downbeat Magazine

“Sophisticated melodies, precise instrumentation and witty lyrics that delight the entire family."
~ Washington Post

“Musical twists and jazzy tempos to get the whole family dancing – even Dad.” ~ Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine

“Ben’s positive spirit comes across very well… his lyrics and topics are engaging without being cloying or sappy.”
~ Big Apple Parent Magazine

“The band just sounds GOOD.” ~ Zooglobble.com

“Bouncy and upbeat.” ~ New York Post

“Rudnick's songs are clever and appealing, making the most of kids' imaginations.” ~ Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

“A good dose of fun.” — Boston Herald Online

"Listening enjoyment for the whole family.”
~ Publishers Weekly

"If Ben Rudnick says he's ready to 'Blast Off!', you had better hold onto something tight. This disc should have
a fuse!"
~ Buzz McClain, Washington Post

“A distinct personality, far from the slick, polished anonymity found on some popular recordings for this age group.” ~ American Library Association Booklist Magazine

“The lyrics are fun, the music catchy, and Rudnick’s vocals are perfectly quirky.” ~ Los Angeles Daily News

“In other words, this is real music.” ~ Boston Globe

 “…I love the sound of these guys (and my kids did too, but whatever.) These are some mega-musically-talented dudes, and their style is really their own. It’s a fabulous addition to your kiddie music collection for sure." ~ theopinionatedparent.com


Reviews

School Library Journal : January 2012

Live in Lexington, Under the Copper Beech

By – Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library, IL

PreS-Gr 4

star.Ben Rudnick & Friends have been entertaining families for over a decade. Recorded live at the Town Green in Lexington, MA, in July 2008, this wonderful blend of 22 original, traditional, and cover songs will have listeners tapping their toes and singing along. The collection includes traditional numbers like “Skip to My Lou,” “Hava Nagila,” and “When the Saints Come Marching In,” as well as cover songs such as Hank Williams, Sr.’s “Hey Good Lookin’” and Johnny Cash’s “Big River.” The original songs are fun, silly tunes about things like macaroni and cheese, making a new friend, and Sally salamander. Getting up and moving around are definitely required while listening. The musicianship and production values are top-notch, making this an album the whole family will want to listen to over and over again.


Midwest Book Review : September 2011

Live in Lexington, Under the Copper Beech

Five-time Parent's Choice award-winners Ben Rudnick & Friends present Live in Lexington: Under the Copper Beech, a family-friendly music CD of their public performance in Lexington. Songs from their first six recordings, popular favorite cover tunes, and an amazing undercurrent of energy and vigor, Live in Lexington is a guitar-and-vocals performance to remember, further enhanced with additional instruments ranging from the mandolin and drums to the accordion and even the saxophone. An enthusiastic and energetic performance, especially recommended for playing during long family car trips or children's parties.


Booklist : November 2011

Live in Lexington, Under the Copper Beech

Ben Rudnick’s crackerjack band (Ben Rudnick & Friends) performs 23 songs in this album recorded at a July 11, 2008 concert at the Town Green in Lexington, MA. Such staples as “Mama Don’t ‘Low,” “Skip to My Lou,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and “Hava Nagila” mix with spirited covers of tunes made famous by Johnny Cash, Mark Knopfler, and Hank Williams. In original songs, “Sally Salamander” and “Juicy Black Fly,” Rudnick sees animals through a comically realistic lens; “Rocket Ship Man,” “Cowgirl Song,” and “Macaroni and Cheese” honor favorite childhood themes. Another original, “Spin,” seamlessly connects whirling wheels and orbits. The tunes stride through many genres as they move all over the musical map. For Rudnick friends, new and old.   - PAUL SHACKMAN


Simple-MomReviews.com : August 2011

Live in Lexington, Under the Copper Beech

This live performance album made us feel like we were actually at the concert while eating our dinner in our own backyard!  It made me sway my hips and tap my toes while singing along to the familiar cover songs.  The original songs are sure to become family favorites as well.  Ben & Friends have a very unique and versatile sound covering many genres of music, which is a perfect way to expose children to various styles of music.  This is a very awesome and fun album!

Live in Lexington: Under the Copper Beech is essential for anyone who likes to shake their booty and have a good time!  It is a must have for any family-oriented occasion, especially outdoor get togethers!  We have been listening to it every time we eat in the backyard, which is at least 3 times a week, and every time we feel like the concert is happening in our yard.  We are still loving every song!  I wish Ben Rudnick & Friends toured the West Coast – I am jealous of our East Coast readers who have the opportunity to see him live!


Parents' Choice Recommended : Fall 2009

A Frog Named Sam

By Lynne Heffley

Fall 2009 Music
Ages: 3 & Up

Quirky lyrics and the swing and bounce of American roots music are singer-songwriter Ben Rudnick's trademark and he combines them to winning effect in his latest musical potpourri. The title track traces the saga of a water-loathing frog whose move to the big city leads to the conclusion that there's no place like home. "Race Car" is an exhilarating ride and "Drink It Up" is a sunny celebration ("It's like a milkshake when I see your face, I wanna drink it up and take it with me"). A couple of exuberant instrumentals, "Ben's Jig" (by Rudnick) and "John's Jig" (by mandolin master John Zevos) nearly steal the show, featuring Mark Yacovone's gorgeous accordion work. Enjoyable versions of some traditional tunes-- "Erie Canal," "Old Joe Clark," "Greensleeves"--make the mix, too. Among Rudnick's other terrific string band mates are Cowboy Junkies' Jeff Bird on harmonica and bass player Johnny Sciascia of indie country band The Coachmen.


 

KIDZMUSIC.COM : January 2009

A Frog Named Sam

By John Wood

This is one of the most fun listening albums that have crossed my desk in a long time. The players are smokin’ (meaning really good!), the original tunes are…well, truly original (meaning really good!) and the re-tooled traditional songs are hyper-charged for maximum fun (meaning really fun!). A Frog Named Sam is the lucky 7th release for Ben Rudnick & Friends and you’ll be listening to this album 8 days a week.


Chattanooga Parents Paper : September, 2009

A Frog Named Sam

By Dave Loftin

Trying to pinpoint exactly what style of music Ben Rudnick performs is almost impossible. That’s not to say that he’s trying multiple genres, but rather that he and the band are so musically gifted that they almost create their own style of music. Ben Rudnick & Friends are pushing 10 years in the family music industry, and they show no signs of slowing down. A Frog Named Sam opens with what sounds to me like jam music for the tots. (I can picture small children across the country swaying like trees in their living rooms.) I’m not a jam band fan, but the title track is pretty darn catchy.  The disc keeps going with the folksy, hoedown sound of “Race Car” and “Old Joe Clark.” If you’d like to get your entire family dancing and just having an overall great time together, pop in this CD.


School Library Journal : July 1 , 2009

A Frog Named Sam

"This exceptional album should be purchased for every library's music collection."

By Beverly Bixler, San Antonio Public Library, TX

PreS-Gr 4—Award-winning Ben Rudnick and his band members (Arnie Ashford, Jared Steer, Mark Yaconvone, and John Stevos) excel once again with their latest album. Their superior, versatile musicianship is evident in the quality picking of ukulele, mandolin, and guitar; the winsome sounds of saxophone and harmonica; and their close harmonies. The 11 tunes are a mix of original and traditional melodies, in musical styles ranging from rock to bluegrass to doo wop. "A Frog Named Sam" so dislikes the water that he starts a rock band in the city. The other original songs are "Race Car," "Ben's Jig" (instrumental), "Drink It Up," "I Need a Hand" (about crossing the street), "The Santa Fe (train)," and "John's Jig" (instrumental). Wonderful new arrangements for "Erie Canal," "Old Joe Clark," and "Greensleeves" add zest to these traditional songs. And their doo wop arrangement of the classic "Three Little Fishes" (by Saxie Dowell) is fabulous. This exceptional album should be purchased for every library's music collection.


Grandparents.com : June, 2009

A Frog Named Sam

By Mike Ayers

Put A Frog Named Sam in the CD player and the title track will instantly remind you of the Grateful Dead. The psychedelic, swirling guitars might not immediately sound like something a toddler would like, but the rhythmic croaking of Sam (a frog who doesn’t like water and is heading for the big city) is genuinely lovable. And that’s how Ben Rudnick, an award winning, New England-based musician, has always made children’s records. Rudnick melds highly skilled musicianship with fun spins on kids’ interests like milk shakes and race cars, and adds a youthful slant to traditional songs.


Baltimore's Child : May, 2009

"... a genuine gem."

When It's Good, It's Really Good
Musical Notes - A Frog Named Sam
By Charlotte Bohn


First of all, if your child has a friend named Sam, you must get this CD for his —or her—birthday. I gave it to a friend for her son Sam’s first birthday, and I think little Sammy got a kick out of it. Well, at least his parents did.

The CD was released March 24, and it’s sure to be a hit among the 4 and older age group. Ben Rudnick is no stranger to the kids’ music scene. His four previous family music CDs received national acclaim, including awards from Parents’ Choice, the Children’s Music Web, the iParenting Media Awards, and the John Lennon Songwriting Competition.

Rudnick has a real knack for writing catchy toe-tapping songs, and A Frog Named Sam delivers some real winners. The title track tells the story of a frog with an itty-bitty problem—he doesn’t like the water. So, he does what all frogs do when they don’t like the water—he moves to the city to start a rock band.

Rudnick’s quirky and imaginative lyrics are what I think make him stand out among other children’s music artists. Kids will laugh at the words and jump around to the high-energy music that accompanies the fantastical tales.
In the style of American roots music, Rudnick delivers a tremendous sound with the help of fellow musicians and their drums, accordion, guitar, ukulele, mandolin, harmonica, dobro, baritone and tenor sax, and double bass. All these instruments make songs such as the doo-wop “Three Little Fishies” really rock. The two instrumentals, “Ben’s Jig” and “John’s Jig,” are perfect for an impromptu dance around the living room. Arrangements of the classic folk tunes “Erie Canal,” “Old Joe Clark,” and “Greensleeves” are refreshingly hip and current.

It’s always an absolute treat to get a CD such as A Frog Named Sam sent to me for review. I may love to rip a CD to shreds, but it's even more fun to come across a genuine gem.


Metro Agusta Parent : May, 2009

"...you’d be hard pressed to find a more danceable, enjoyable collection of songs."

A Frog Named Sam

AUGUSTA ,GA - The best kids’ stories start with the ordinary and add something just a little silly, out of place or unusual. The titular frog of this album, for example, doesn’t like the water so he moves to the big city and starts a rock band.

Ben Rudnick started playing children’s music with his own rock band nine years ago for his daughter’s birthday party, and while his songs are kid-friendly, they’re also more sophisticated than the average music made just for children. There are jam bands out there that would love to be as tight as Rudnick and friends on songs such as his version of “Three Little Fishes,” or the traditional folk song “Erie Canal.” Those same bands would probably write a much different song with the title “Drink it Up” — here, it’s a bouncy tune that catalogues the different kinds of beverages kids love, from slushies to milkshakes, and compares that with the feeling seeing a friend brings.

The educational content here is virtually nonexistent, but for kids of all ages you’d be hard pressed to find a more danceable, enjoyable collection of songs. Put it on the next time you’re cooped up with the kids on a rainy day, or on a long trip in the car, and they’ll wear themselves out bouncing around to the music.


DADLABS.com : March 31, 2009

A Frog Named Sam - One of the HOTTEST KIDS TUNES of 2009 and winner of the "I've heard this a billion times and I still like it" category.

"very Widespread Panic-ish or like Phish! I have heard this a billion times and still like it."

- Daddy Brad

Editor's Note - This is a great video review. Follow the link: The BR&F segment starts at 2:19.


CommonSenseMedia.com : March, 2009

A Frog Named Sam - Reviewed by Jacqueline Rupp

What's the Story?

The Americana roots-infused family music band Ben Rudnick & Friends is back with its fifth release, A FROG NAMED SAM. The CD offers a mix of original tunes, instrumentals, and some old favorites. The title track is about a frog that moves to the big city to start a rock band but then misses his old pond friends. Classics like “Old Joe” and “Erie Canal” round things out.

Is it Any Good? - 4 out of 5 stars

Eschewing typical cartoony kids' music, Ben Rudnick & Friends' offer up a mix Allman Brothers Band-style southern rock with the groovy eclecticism of a band like Phish. The silly and singable lyrics are addictive, and the band's musicianship is outstanding. Young ears will get to know the sounds of the saxophone, ukulele, dobro and mandolin and will find it easy to dance, sing-along, and bang some pots and pans to these high-energy tracks.

Parents Need To Know

Parents need to know that this is a retro, swingin’ CD that draws from lots of traditional American music styles to make a kid-friendly compilation perfect for the toddler and preschool crew. Kids will get an intro to bluegrass, roots, and doo-wop music while listening to stories about fish, frogs, and racecars as sung by the fatherly Ben Rudnick and his musical friends.

Families can talk about how different instruments sound. There are at least 15 instruments used to create the music you hear on this CD. Can you identify any of the instruments being played? What instruments sound deep and booming and what instruments sound high-pitched like a bird singing? Do you hear any instruments you would like to try to play?


MUSTAPHA : April, 2009
DJ at WHUS in Storrs, CT

"If I was allowed only one CD to bring on a 3 hour road trip this would be the one."

"Ben Rudnick and Friends has a complete winner with A Frog Named Sam that anyone with a good ear for music and kids will appreciate.  With such a tangible discography as they have they don't disappoint with this 2009 release.  If I was allowed only one CD to bring on a 3 hour road trip this would be the one."


Tanya Donnelly : March, 2009

A Frog Named Sam - "This is by far the CD most requested by our 3-yr old daughter, who (in her words) "can't stop dancing to this music."  It's a great mix of original songs and classics  --   eclectic, rootsy, funky, fun, and smart."

- Tanya Donelly - singer/songwriter

(Tanya was a founding member of the Throwing Muses and was a member of Belly and the Breeders.)


John Wood - Kidzmusic.com : January, 2009

A Frog Named Sam - This is one of the most fun listening albums that have crossed my desk in a long time. The players are smokin’ (meaning really good!), the original tunes are…well, truly original (meaning really good!) and the re-tooled traditional songs are hyper-charged for maximum fun (meaning really fun!). A Frog Named Sam is the lucky 7th release for Ben Rudnick & Friends and you’ll be listening to this album 8 days a week.


ChildrensMusic.com : February 25, 2009

Ben Rudnick & Friends are releasing their newest album, A Frog Named Sam, on March 24th! We’ve had the special opportunity to listen to an advance copy of the CD, and I have to say that this is one you aren’t going to want to miss.

Picking up on their characteristic bluegrass sounds, BR&F have put together a fun collection of both original and traditional songs. The title song, “A Frog Named Sam,” is really good with a fun beat that got my son bopping immediately.

The classic folk songs “Erie Canal,” “Old Joe,” and “Greensleeves” are wonderful takes on old favorites and sit along side the new original songs very well. “Santa Fe,” a classic-sounding folksy song, is actually a wonderful original written by John Zevos who wrote it when he was spending some time out in Flagstaff, Arizona and the train, The Santa Fe, woke him up one too many times.

My two favorite songs on the CD are “Drink It Up” and “I Need a Hand.” “Drink It Up” is just so sweet with lines like “It’s like a milkshake when I see your face, I want to drink it up and take it with me.” Cute! “I Need a Hand” is a new take on a song BR&F wrote a few years ago. We’ve seen it performed live and the kids in the audience really love it!


TIMEOUT New York : April 1, 2009

A Frog Named Sam: This amphibian has a problem: He doesn’t like the water. He does like to sing though—on the title track alone, the funky vocal breakdown is worth the price of admission, and the old outsider-seeking-acceptance trope doesn’t weigh down the light-as-a-lily-pad CD. “Race Car” in particular is a joyful bluegrass hootenanny of a bootstomper.

- Brian Braiker


WERS.ORG : March 23, 2007

On Grace’s Bell, Ben Rudnick & Friends bring cheerful and happy music to the ears of children.  With a good combination of covers and original songs, the band has produced a happy-go-lucky batch of songs that are ideal to share with any young one.

The album begins with the cute and happy “My Name Is Ben,” where he introduces himself and then every member of his band and their instrument between chimes of “eee-iii-eee-iii-oh.”  The song has an almost country twang feel to it, with the guitars and bouncy sounds reverberating about.

Bassist Arnie Ashford's rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful Word” is perhaps the most soothing melody on the album, as it primarily uses acoustic guitar, mandolin, and then the bouncy beats of accordion.  The song is almost reminiscent of a Hawaiian song with the way he uses his vocal melodies against the tropical feeling of the instruments.

“Vowels” is a joyful track about how there is necessity for vowels, with lyrics like "but I need vowels/ without vowels, it's just gibberish to me" arranged with Rudnick’s particularly cartoony voice.  The rodeo feel continues along on songs such as “Route 66,” an admirable cover because it is simplified down to acoustic elements while still maintaining the transportation feel of the original.

As much as their music is geared towards kids, they do expose substantial musical talent on their songs, like on instrumental tracks like “Coming Of Spring.”  The fact is, the optimistic and peaceful nature of these songs is energizing and acts as a fresh breath of air, and is exactly why the album is ideal for any child who is drawn to  high and fun melodies.

- Kailani Koenig-Muenster


ZOOGLOBBLE.COM about Grace's Bell :

With Grace's Bell, Ben Rudnick and Friends have recorded an album of traditional and band favorites in their rootsy Americana style. If you have any interest in these more traditional styles performed with vigor and energy, you'll definitely want to check this album out, and even those weaned on a more rock/pop diet will probably find enough tracks worth singing along or dancing to. Recommended.



NAPPA Honors Award : 2007

"Grace's Bell " was chosen for a NAPPA Honors Award

"Definitely pack this album for a road trip! Great tunes and solid musicians makes it feel like the band's playing right in your living room.



Downbeat Magazine
April 2005
4 out of 5 Stars!

 

.

"Finding children's music albums for the preschool to 6th grade set is easy as ABC. The challenge comes figuring out what releases have the stuff to please children and young-at-heart grownups.

On Ben Rudnick's Blast Off!, the words catchy and irrepressible just begin to describe the string-band music uncorked by a quintet of gifted instrumentalists whose idea of a rollicking good time runs from "Martian Hoedown" through "Juicy Black Fly" to "Dads Can Dance." Rudnick's active musical imagination is central to his charm, his music having a country rock base with bluegrass, polka, Tex-Mex, jazz, blues or folk colorants. His lead singing is more than adequate to his zany, smart tunes."

– Frank-John Hadley, Downbeat Magazine


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel : Dec. 7, 2004

"Blast Off!" was chosen as one of the Top 5 choices for children's/family releases of 2004 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Best Bets for Your Music-Lovin' Kids
By MARY-LIZ SHAW

Below are five top choices from the many children's/family CDs released this year. Each ranking includes an age-range suggestion because children's music is no different from children's clothing - no matter what the stores tell you, one size does not fit all.

Here's (Blast Off) a more traditional folk-style children's album but with quality storytelling and a tight sound. Rudnick's songs are clever and appealing, making the most of kids' imaginations. There are songs about playing with balloons with aliens, dancing with Martians and dancing with dads. The collection includes peppy updates of old favorites "M.T.A.," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and "The Fox."

Ben Rudnick and Friends may well be on their way to becoming the Grateful Dead of the tot scene. The act plays several live shows a year on the East Coast.

Rudnick is hoping to take the act farther afield soon. Our songs "are people songs. We aren't talking down to kids," he said, adding that, in live shows, "we don't make nice because we're playing for kids with families. We play hard." And, Rudnick said, "we're having a ball playing that stuff."


Scholastic Teachers Pick - Best of 2004

Blast Off! Explore the universe, find out what Martians are really like, and convince your dad to dance.

Ben Rudnick's energetic new CD adds new musical twists to old favorites and includes jazzy originals to get the whole family up and moving around.


Parents Choice Foundation : November 2004

"The subjects of Ben Rudnick’s feel-good songs range from a trip to the stars ("Rocket Ship Man") and alien playmates ("I Got a New Friend") to a frisky fly ("Juicy Black Fly") and a celebration of the goofy and nifty things that kids love about fathers ("Dads Can Dance").

The songs themselves are pleasant and playful; the country and pop instrumentals are outstanding."

- Lynne Heffley, Parents' Choice


Audio of the Week, School Library Journal

Blast Off! - October 4, 2004

Ben Rudnick's talented band returns for another bouncy, fun album with superb instrumentation. While the space theme is only carried through several songs, there seems to be a natural progression from topic to topic.

"I Got a New Friend" is a great, silly song about a kid with several friends who just happen to be aliens. "Juicy Black Fly" is sung from the fly's perspective with lots of humor and a chorus consisting entirely of the singing of the word "buzz" over and over again.

"Reading a Book" exhorts kids to read, giving examples of all the places they'll be able to visit via books. "Why'd the Chicken Cross the Road" features an amusing homage to Dr. Seuss and is sung at an increasingly fast pace. "Sons & Daughters" closes the set in a lovely way, with beautiful sentiments and music.

The songs mostly have a bluegrass feel, and the band is uniformly excellent. There's a blend of traditional and new songs that is sure to please most audiences. The lyrics are humorous, touching, or just plain silly.

Jeff Bird from the Cowboy Junkies continues his involvement with Rudnick's recordings, amongst many other fine musicians. It is a pleasant change to have fathers' perspectives represented in children's music, as Rudnick manages to do so skillfully.

– B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Memorial Library,
Sag Harbor, NY


From Disney Publication's Family Fun Magazine February 2003

"Ben Rudnick has a conversational singing style that's instantly engaging, an ear for an infectious tune (and beat), and an affinity for fun-to-sing lyrics. He conjures up Bo Diddley in "Spin," encourages optimism in "Sun Showers," and offers an earnest tribute to the favorite food of children everywhere in "Macaroni and Cheese." All ages. – Moira McCormick


San Diego Union Tribune January 4, 2003

Ben Rudnick and Friends made their first blip on the kids entertainment radar two years ago with "Emily's Songs." And what a blip it was – the album won a Parent's Choice award and a John Lennon Songwriting Contest award, among other accolades.

Now Ben and Friends are back with "Fun and Games," featuring veteran songwriter and guitarist Rudnick, as well as the supporting talent of Cowboy Junkies band members Jeff Bird and Margo Timmins. With influences ranging from bluegrass to Caribbean beats and a wide variety of instruments (harmonica, bobby whistle, wood blocks), this is a CD packed with lots of silly fun, and great musicianship to boot.

- Tiffany Lee-Youngren
(Ed. Note: The review continues with a portion written by a child.)

By ABBEY GRACE HOWE
Review: The songs on "Fun and Games" are very exciting. They are upbeat and fun. There are funny songs like "Macaroni & Cheese" and "Spin."

I like "Spin" because part of the song sounds like my brother's name. We like to replace "Spin-ster" with "Spencer" and tease him. These songs are for little kids, but I think they're fun for the whole family. (And to all the busy, hardworking mothers out there who live in the car: It makes the younger ones quiet down and listen!)

This lively CD is a MUST listen! I definitely liked this (so did my siblings), and I hope you do, too!


Booklist Magazine January 2003

“This eclectic collection covers a lot of territory, from commonplace to fanciful. Performer Ben Rudnick sticks pretty close to everyday concerns and activities in tunes about salamanders, hopscotch, macaroni and cheese, and spinning things. The venerable standard “Swinging on a Star” fits right in, as does the jaunty instrumental “Sailor’s Hornpipe.”

Rudnick’s pleasing down-home style infuses the mostly original songs, which are fun, and in a curious way, mellow. What comes through is a distinct personality, far from the slick, polished anonymity found on some popular recordings for this age group.

– Paul Shackman


Middlesex Beat December 2002

Read the article, "Ben Rudnick and Friends Make Family Music With Substance" written by Allen Pratt in the December 2002 Middlesex Beat.


Copley News Service December 9, 2002

CDs In The Stocking, Keep Kids Rocking

“Good 'ol songs for any occasion, Rudnick and pals, incluing Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies, play happy tunes "Sally Salamander," "Blackberry Blossom," "Sailor's Hornpipe" and "Macaroni & Cheese." Imaginative and sunny, "Fun and Games" is the perfect background music for exactly that.

- Lee Littlewood


School Library Journal November 2002

Fans of Ben Rudnick and Friends award-winning Emily Songs will be thrilled with his latest release. This upbeat recording is chock-full of bouncy, fun, original and familiar songs.

Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies lends his talent with a myriad of percussion and harmonica accompaniment, as does fellow Cowboy Junkie Margo Timmins with vocals on one track. Gary Kehoe of the Banana String Band also joins in the fun.

There are three particularly pleasing instrumental songs all featuring the banjo – “Sailor’s Hornpipe,” “Blackberry Blossom” (both traditional), and “Sheik Scruggs.” The latter is performed by the composer, Adam DeLong.

The sounds of the accordion and guitar are prevalent throughout the recording, but a closer listen reveals many different percussion instruments; a TV tray even makes the credits! Vocal tracks are just as enjoyable.

“Twisting Low” blends positive lyrics with unique relaxed Caribbean sounds. Kids will eat up Rudnick’s “Macaroni and Cheese,” a celebration of this childhood favorite. A total of a dozen songs round out the recording providing as the title says, fun and games. Consider this purchase essential, even if the budget is limited.”

Kirsten Martindale, Buford Academy, GA



DiscoverySchool.Com October 2002

Ben Rudnick & Friends: Fun and Games

Music Review Rating:

The Bottom Line: This good-natured and unpretentious children's recording marries kid-pleasing lyrics with sophisticated musical stylings that will appeal to the entire family.

Fun and Games is Ben Rudnick and Friends' second children's recording, and it's a real winner. Supporting the fun and sweet lyrics is a wonderful range of musical instruments that produce some very pleasing sounds.

The twelve tracks on this recording offer kids a perfect backdrop for dancing, playing, and even winding down. "Spin" is an easy favorite with its dance-along and spin-along rhythm--it's a celebration of everything that spins, including the Sun, Moon, bowling balls, and hula hoops!

A kid-favorite comfort food is the main focus in "Macaroni and Cheese"; and "Jessica's Song" is a tender and loving tune dedicated to a special young girl ("so wild a smile, you can't hide your love").

We were especially charmed by the lovely instrumentals in Fun and Games. In fact, the recording includes more instrumental interludes than can be found in most children's albums. This helps make the recording ideal for playtime. "Sailor's Hornpipe", for example, is a playful and rich instrumental version--featuring the mandolin, accordion, and banjo--of a seagoing classic. The range of instruments on the recording adds richness to the story-songs and the quality of the album as a whole helps draw in parents. In fact, Fun and Games is as easy on adults' ears as it is on those of its target audience.

Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies plays the harmonica, bobby whistle, cowbell, and wood blocks on the recording, and Margo Timmins, also from the band, sings the outstanding lullaby, "Everything is Alright"--an enormously soothing song that parents will happily add to their children's bedtime routines.


EdutainingKids.com October 2002

Ben Rudnick and Friends' latest children's recording, appropriately titled Fun and Games, is fun from the catchy opening tune, Sally Salamander, to the lullaby, Everything is Alright.

This recording is, quite simply, outstanding.

Margo Timmins and Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies are some of Bed Rudnick's musical friends on the album. We love this one! It's fun and warm, though it never becomes "too much". There's even an ode to macaroni and cheese -- a food that is comforting to many young children (I even know of one child who wishes he could record the swishing sound macaroni and cheese makes when it's stirred in a pot for bedtime!). Easy-going sounds and delightful story-songs are featured.


Baltimore's Child October 2002

Once in awhile, I am able to say that a CD reaches not only the children but the parents as well. In that spirit, I am delighted to recommend Fun and Games with its amazing range of bluegrass instruments to all the parents out there.

Children won’t know it, but they will be jumping and dancing around to the guitar, banjo, steel drum, mandolin, harmonica, bobby whistle, cowbell, wooden blocks and many other percussive instruments. With excellent musicianship, Ben Rudnick and Friends, take listeners on a musical trip through the tale of “Sally Salamander,” to the blood pumping beat of “Spin,” to the soothing sounds of “Everything is Alright.”

With positive lyrics to accompany the catchy melodies, you really can’t help having fun with Fun and Games. No doubt the title is the only suitable name for this highly energetic collection of songs.”

– Charlotte Rose Giza


Los Angeles Daily News October 12, 2002

They Might Be Parents

This is an excellent follow-up to the Ben Rudnick and Friends’ 200 release, “Emily Songs.” The lyrics are fun, the music catchy, and Rudnick’s vocals – honed by 20-plus years of bluegrass performances – are perfectly quirky.

The strength of this CD is the humorous lyrics, sure to make any kid giggle who’s old enough to follow along. Rudnick – and his friends – sing about everyday life with the enthusiasm of a kid on summer vacation. In “Macaroni and Cheese,” for example, he can’t wait for dinner. “My stomach’s growling like a bear in a fight. My mother’s telling me what I might like. I’ve heard it all, but I haven’t heard it right. Nothing can please me like that gooey, cheesy sight.”

– Chris J. Parker


Metro Kids, Sound Off! October, 2002
Solid Musicianship

Some fine offerings from solid musicians finish off this month. It’s no criticism to say that I can’t find much difference between them. In fact, finding either of these will fill your hunger for good music just fine.

Ben Rudnick & Friends’ Fun and Games sings about “Macaroni and Cheese” and “Sun Showers.” It’s in the fine tradition of his previous Emily Songs.

Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the Peabody-award-winning “Kid’s Corner,” weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.


Publishers Weekly Reviews September 2002

As they did on Emily Songs, Rudnick and friends (including Jeff Bird and Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies) serve up some snazzy bluegrass-flavored entertainment.

With all the bounce befitting the album's title, Rudnick sails through such happy original numbers as "Spin,” about all sorts of circular motion - including kids twirling, "Macaroni & Cheese,” an ode to the kid-friendly entree, and "Hopscotch,” a groovy tribute to this favorite sidewalk/schoolyard game.

Stellar banjo and mandolin accompaniment lend a distinct flavor, especially on three instrumental tracks, but bluegrass is not the only game on this recording. Calypso ("Twisting Low"), rock, and a gentle, untraditional lullaby ("Everything Is Alright,” featuring vocals by Timmins) all get their due. The variety offered here spells listening enjoyment for the whole family. All ages.”


Midwest Book Review October 2002

With the musical support of Jeff Bird and Margo Timmins (members of the Cowboy Junkies band), Fun And Games wonderfully showcases the lively musical performances of Ben Rudnick is this outstanding CD collection of music for children.

The original lyrics and melodies comprising this highly recommended addition to personal, school, and community library music shelves includes: Sally Salamander (3:12); Swinging on a Star (2:12); Spin (4:14); Sailor's Hornpipe (3:11); Twisting Low (4:41); Blackberry Blossom (2:23); Macaroni & Cheese (3:36); Hopscotch (3:07); Jessica's Song (4:22); Sheik Scruggs (2:33); Sun Showers (3:17); and Everything is Alright (4:52)."


South Florida Parenting Magazine
reviewed Fun and Games, October 1, 2002

Ben Rudnick sounds a little like Jimmy Buffet playing Tennessee bluegrass. And then he brings the Cowboy Junkies' etheral-voiced Margo Timmins along for the ride. The result, as the title of Rudnick's second children's album suggests, is a whole lot of fun.

Banjo player Adam DeLong recalls the good ole days of bluegrass on Blackberry Blossom and Sheik Scruggs, a bluegrass song with some Middle Eastern overtones that actually work. Timmins haunting voice loses its edgy Cowboy Junkies' sound and rings true and soft on the lullaby "Everything Is Alright."

Not that your kids might not notice the musicianship and mix of musical sounds, but they'll like the wild variety of chirps, whistles, cowbells and other strange percussion instruments that (Cowboy Junkie) Jeff Bird brings into the music. And they'll certainly be singing and dancing along with this fresh, original album.


This is what Lynne Heffley of the Parents' Choice Foundation had to say about Fun and Games:

"Wheels, washing machines, hula hoops and the Earth itself "Spin" with exuberance in this happy smile of an album from Ben Rudnick.

Tears turn to "Sun Showers," palm trees sway while a breezy tropical island night passes in "Twisting Low" and "Hopscotch" chases the blues away. Rudnick's bouncy, colorful story songs, sung with neighborly warmth, are complemented by a smashing, multi-instrumental band of musicians."

- Lynne Heffley ©2002 Parents' Choice


Quote from Buzz McClain of the Washington Post about Fun and Games:

"Ben Rudnick refuses to pander by making "children's music," with the result being a disc of sophisticated melodies, precise instrumentation and witty lyrics that delight the entire family. As evidence that he's aiming high, there are two instrumentals that showcase his playing. And he knows his audience: Anyone who can sing an ode to macaroni and cheese -- the substance upon which most of our kids voluntarily subsist on -- is paying attention.


Nashville Parent Magazine reviewed Fun and Games, August 1, 2002:
Listen Up Records. All ages.

Fun and Games is a lighthearted celebration of what kids do best -- play! "Spin" extolls the virtues of dizziness, while the upbeat "Hopscotch" will make you want to start skipping right then and there. "Macaroni and Cheese" is as close to a love song as a kid can get. The soothing "Everything is Alright" (with vocals by the Cowboy Junkies' Margo Timmins) marks the end of another eventful day as a child.

With this happy collection of songs, Rudnick explores the moments in a child's life that belong especially to children -- but that we can share if we want to.

- Ashley R. Crownover


School Library Journal reviewed Emily Songs in the March, 2002 issue:

Four of the 11 songs on this album were written by Ben Rudnick for his daughter Emily. Two of them are traditional, with arrangements by Rudnick. Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies contributes by playing harmonica, cymbal, tambourine, shakers, bells, wood blocks, guiro, key chime, glockenspiel, bird chirps, triangle and more.

These are mostly happy, bouncy, bluegrassy and other country-style songs for children and their parents. "I Like Silver, I Like Gold" celebrates colors; "I Need a Hand" says a child when crossing the street; "Cowgirl Song" has a very catchy tune and is about wishing to be a cowboy, mustang, coyote and cowgirl; "Rainy Day" has the sound of raindrops in the background; and in "Monkey and the Engineer," the monkey decides to operate the locomotive.

"Skip to My Lou" and "The Window" are traditional songs with new musical arrangements by Rudnick. "DaDaLaDa," "Salt Creek," "El Cumbanchero," and "Brad's Polka" are all instrumental tunes. With high-quality vocals and instrumentals, this is an excellent album for all those who love bluegrass and country music.

- Beverly Bixler, San Antonio Public Library, TX


Los Angeles Times reviewed Emily Songs, November 22, 2001

Look and Listen
By Lynne Heffley, Times Staff Writer

Brash and sunny rhythms, with some fine musicians doing the plucking and strumming, are the strength of singer-guitarist Ben Rudnick's collection of playful songs. Instrumental tracks ("DaDaLaDa," "Salt Creek," "El Cumbanchero") are stand-out toe-tappers, while Rudnick, infuses his songs, and arrangements of a few traditional tunes, with mild silliness."The Window," for instance, interweaves several nursery rhymes with a nonsensical, slightly dubious "throw it out the window" refrain; in "I Need a Hand," crossing the street requires not only a helping hand, but also a penguin, a toaster and a cupcake.


Nashville Parent Magazine reviewed Emily Songs, November 1, 2001

Listen Up Records. Ages preschool and older.

If cowboys moonlighted as children's musical entertainers, these would be the songs they'd sing! A gently rollicking, country western-flavored gallop through childhood, "Emily Songs" just begs to be danced to. The comic absurdity of "I Need a Hand", "The Window" and "Monkey and the Engineer" will leave the little ones in stitches.

Though it's difficult to single out a favorite track on this engaging CD, "Cowgirl Song" is definitely the rootinest, tootinest tune this side of Abilene. Excellent music and musicianship make hearing this CD played over and over again (as kids want to do) a real pleasure."

- Ashley R. Crownover


The Boston Parent's Paper
reviewed Emily Songs, November 1, 2001

Dancing to Emily Songs

Ben Rudnick and Friends' Emily Songs may be just the CD to get your family through a rainy Saturday.

Arlington resident Ben Rudnick has assembled a variety of bouncy bluegrass tunes and added some traditional favorites and old-fashioned fiddle pieces that are sure to get little feet hopping."

- Cathy Elcik


Publisher's Weekly
reviewed Emily Songs, April 9, 2001

A peppy blend of banjo, guitar, mandolin and a host of other instruments give Rudnick's debut children's recording a buoyant sense of fun. In his four original songs, Rudnick frequently goes for the funny bone, but also unfuses his work with subtle messages about a child's desire for adult help ("I Need a Hand") and the joys of self-expression ("I Like Silver I Like Gold" and "Cowgirl Song").

The music is given plenty of room to shine, not only on traditional tunes like "Skip to My Lou" and "The Window" but also on several instrumental tracks, including "Salt Creek" and "Brad's Polka." The upbeat bluegrass sound includes the accomplished work of Jeff Bird (of the band Cowboy Junkies) on harmonica and a hodgepodge of percussion instruments including cowbells, wood blocks, triangle, tambourine - with a few hand claps and bird chirps thrown in.


Billboard
mentioned "Emily Songs", May 5th, 2001 in the Child's Play column

Another alt-rocker has popped up on a kid's album: Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies contributes to a charming collection called Emily Songs, by Ben Rudnick & Friends.