Monday, September 17, 2012

Astrograss - The Colored Pencil Factory: A CD Review

BROOKLYN, NY (July 31, 2012) – With a nine year track record of mixing authentic bluegrass, down-home humor, and original, progressive songwriting, NYC’s premier bluegrass band for all ages, Astrograss, pulls out all the stops with the October 16 release of their third CD, The Colored Pencil Factory (Smoggy Borough Records, $15.00, for all ages, run time 49 minutes).

Every song on The Colored Pencil Factory celebrates imagination and adventure with high energy and high enthusiasm in a blend of old-time Appalachian mountain music, traditional bluegrass, progressive bluegrass/newgrass, and even a bit of Eastern European folk music.

Two years in the making, The Colored Pencil Factory presents a living document in song, showing how a traditional art form like bluegrass can speak of the joys, dreams, and even the troubles of today's kids in a musical language saturated with cultural history.  Notes Astrograss's Jordan Shapiro, "I believe that bluegrass music, and all American folk music, is essential listening for kids, and I also believe that the purity of the music is important.  We made The Colored Pencil Factorywithout the use of any amplifiers, drums, pedals, or 'effects.'  We recorded the album in our fiddle player's living room and played the songs just the way we'd play them at a park or in a kitchen.  It's pure, organic, natural Americana."

In addition to engaging settings of traditional tunes like "Shortenin' Bread," "Cluck Old Hen," and "Sail Away Ladies," the album showcases a collection of new songs by the team of Jordan Shapiro and Joe Grossman.  Shapiro and Grossman have been writing together since 1995, and their musical collaboration over the past 17 years has received accolades at venues ranging from off-Broadway theaters to bluegrass music festivals.

The original, adult version of Astrograss was formed in 2003, but it only took the band two years to decide to expand its horizons to include kids.  All five members of Astrograss are music educators, and when “Astrograss for Kids” was born in 2005 it was inspired by classroom experiences in Brooklyn public schools.  

Astrograss has played the kids’ stage at the world famous South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX, and, since 2007, the band has performed regularly on the family stage at the legendary Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in upstate New York.  Other performance highlights include World Café Live (Philadelphia), Higher Ground (Burlington, VT), and such prestigious NYC venues as Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, and The Brooklyn Academy of Music, in addition to many family friendly venues in NYC, including Joe’s Pub, Washington Market Park, and Madison Square Park. In its “grown-up” format, Astrograss is one of New York’s hottest acoustic acts, touring extensively throughout the Northeast, playing clubs,festivals, theaters, private parties, and weddings.

Previous Astrograss recordings include Let Me Stay Up All Night (2008), Astrograss for Kids (2006 EP), and an album for adults, Astrograss(2005).


October 6 Long Island Maritime Museum (11:00 a.m.) Islip, NY
October 14 92YTribeca (11:00 a.m.) Manhattan
November 2 Jalopy (3:00 p.m.) Brooklyn, NY

My Review:

I had never heard of Astrograss prior to reviewing their most recent release, The Colored Pencil Factory, but I have found another fantastic Children's music artist to add to my collection to be sure. 

The Colored Pencil Factory offers children a great exposure to the genre of bluegrass, along with fun lyrics, that will have them dancing and moving all day long.

If your family enjoys Bluegrass and children's music that even adults will love, I highly recommend The Colored Pencil Factory!

I give this CD a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: Check out the official Astrograss website for more information about purchasing a copy of The Colored Pencil Factory (available in October 2012)

***I received a complimentary copy of this CD

1 comment:

  1. thanks so much for bringing this music to us; I'll check it out