I’m a long-time advocate of road trips, though perhaps not for the reasons you might suspect. It’s not just the destinations I love but the getting there. Sure I’ve experienced plenty of “how much longer?” in my years as a parent. But there has also been a lot of uninterrupted family time to read aloud, play word games, giggle and get silly, and develop a shared love of music of many different varieties.
Now that my children are older they often seek out their own music to share. But when they were little, I was always on the hunt for fun music from the likes of They Might Be Giants and Ralph’s World or groovy compilation albums like The Bottle Let Me Down: Songs for Bumpy Wagon Rides. These songs are now as much a part of our family story as the things we’ve done and the places we seen.
My appreciation for music started years ago
Here’s something about me that I’ve never shared before on this site: I spent all four years of high school playing clarinet in the marching band (we were the Colonials and I wore a tri-corner hat). I left my music career behind me when I graduated, but not my love of a fun tune. I’ve always been a big car singer, I’m sure much to the amusement of my fellow motorists.
Jason Didner was a fellow Colonial. I remember that even then his musical talent stood out – he could play multiple instruments, sing well enough to win the school’s sight-singing contest, and when I mentioned to him that I liked the song “Love Walks In” by Van Halen, he wrote out the music and lyrics out for me so that I could play it at home on the piano.
So it’s no surprise that Jason’s adult endeavors have included the creation of a high-energy children’s band called the Jungle Gym Jam. He and his wife Amy write lyrics about their toddler’s everyday life and experiences like meeting a ladybug, swimming at the pool, or playing with a guitar pick and then Jason translates these into upbeat rock and roll. His latest album is called Everyone’s Invited! and it’s designed to get kids and grown ups singing along with lots of guitar riffs and great beats.
The songs on this album are catchy and fun – perfect family-road-trip fare. I’m pretty sure that after one listen you’ll be singing along. Nine-year-old Teddy and I chose our favorites and they include the counting song “Five Sea Lions” and a tale of undersea exploration titled “Glass Bottom Boat”. There’s also the perennial classic “Down by the Bay” with the requisite goofy verbal interludes.
Let’s get excited about the summer road trip season
And here’s the great news: Jason graciously sent me a copy of his CD to give away to a lucky reader.
You have until next Wednesday 5/ 21 to enter. And be sure to check out the Jungle Gym Jam website, where you can preview songs, buy a CD or get a link to download the music, and get a free companion book that includes activities for your child as well as the real-life stories behind the songs. You can also follow Jason on Twitter or like the band’s page on Facebook to keep up-to-date on their doings – Jason is based in northern New Jersey and plays lots of gigs in the area.
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