Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hullabaloo - Shy Kids Blues: A CD Review

SAN DIEGO, CA -- With a ten-year track record of glowing critical acclaim, having picked up fourteen national awards along the way, the beloved "free-range, organic" duo Hullabaloo raises the bar even higher with their 11th studio CD, Shy Kid Blues, set for release in May.  (Hullabaloo Music, $12.00, for ages 3 - 8, run time 37 minutes.)

Hullabaloo is Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer, buddies since kindergarten.  Shy Kid Blues mixes music and spoken word to tell the (mostly) true story of their friendshipwith Hullabaloo's down-home, good-times musical ebullience and infectious humor at the forefront.  In telling their story, Steve and Brendan want to let kids (and parents) know that shyness doesn't need to be a limitation.  Shy kids are capable of doing anything they set their minds to!

Explains Steve Denyes, "In an era when kids seem to have an overabundance of 'screen time,' we really wanted this to be a project where the audio would inspire them to create a picture in their minds rather than have one pop up on a screen.  In recording the monologues, we were inspired by classic radio shows like Prairie Home Companionand more modern versions like This American Life and Radio Lab, where stories are told in conjunction with sound effects that spark the imagination."

Hullabaloo has made a career of creating "a foot-stomping, wing-flapping celebration of song that both honors and entertains kids and families."  Storytelling alternates with songs throughout Shy Kid Blues.   The opening monologue, "A Very Quiet Baby," sets the stage, with audio drops of a '70s-style version of Hullabaloo's "Run Bunny Run," a rotary telephone, and a vintage manual cash register.  The album's first song, "Talking Shy Kid Blues," spins the fine yarn of Steve, a very shy kid, in traditional talking blues style à la Woody Guthrie. In the monologue "Just the Opposite" we meet Brendan, an outrageously gregarious kid. Musical highlights include the hand-clapping, gospel original "365 Days on Earth," "Best Friends Forever" (in which Steve Denyes' strong voice and clarity of diction remind one of Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson), "Earn It," a three-chord scorcher in classic country style, "Brendan Rocks the Box," where Brendan Kremer lays down the beat with his cajon (a wooden box drum), and "You Can Do This," a tremendously affirmative message delivered with a tip of the hat to Kentucky bluegrass.

Among the major awards garnered by Hullabaloo are Parents' Choice®, NAPPA, and Children's Music Web.  Parents' Choice®enthused, "They raise their own foot-stomping ruckus with humor, infectious energy, and appealing blend of country, folk, funk, and rock rhythms."  Scholastic Parent & Child praised Hullabaloo's "banjo, mandolin, and fiddle-powered fun." wrote, "The two-man band has hit another home run with their cool collection of instant classics featuring all the folk, funk, and rock inspirations parents (and kids) are sure to appreciate."

Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer really did meet in kindergarten and have been friends ever since.  Together they started playing music in the 5th grade band, where they vigorously exhibited their burgeoning talents on "Old MacDonald" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."  Little did they suspect that, decades later, these songs would still be among their biggest hits!

Steve grew up to be an elementary school music teacher, folksinger, and songwriter, while Brendan became a rock 'n' roll drummer.  The maiden voyage of Hullabaloo took place when Steve and Brendan teamed up to play a few songs at Brendan's twin daughters' first birthday party. Fast-forward ten years to find that Hullabaloo has performed more than 2,000 shows throughout the country at venues ranging from birthday parties to fancy concert stages like the Austin City Limits festival, Philadelphia's World Café Live, and LEGOLAND.  Along the way they've released ten award-winning albums (at last count, with more than 30,000 sold) and developed a loyal following nationwide.

Highlights - Spring/Summer 2014

May 29       San Diego Botanic Gardens, Encinitas, CA - 6:00 p.m.

May 31       North Coast Repertory Theatre, Solana Beach, CA   Album Release Concert! - 10:30 a.m.

June 1        Fiesta Del Sol, Solana Beach, CA - 9:30 a.m.

June 1        Shir Energy Festival, Cardiff, CA - 11:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m.

July 4         LEGOLAND, Carlsbad, CA - 6:15 p.m. & 7:45 p.m.

My Review:

Hullabloo has been a family favorite music group of ours for a couple years now! With fun lyrics that address all kinds of issues and concepts, these two guys will have you bopping and singing for hours! 

Hullabaloo has a new release coming out, Shy Kids Blues, and this CD has been exceptionally exciting for our family to listen to! You see, our seven year old has been struggling with extreme shyness at school for the last three years and just this January was diagnosed with Selective Mutism. It has been a journey of learning, listening and trying to understand how to be more brave at school. This CD has helped so much, especially for my daughter. She has listened to it a lot and often when she has had an overwhelming day, it is this CD that she will go to. While it does have the same country tones as other Hullabaloo music (this is the 11th release from the group) this time, the guys added some spoken word too and that has been great! What I have loved most about this CD is the positive messages my children are learning about overcoming challenging situations (in this case, shyness) to become the best person they can be! 

Our family favorite tracks from Shy Kids Blues have to be Sometimes Even I Feel Shy, You Can Do This, Talking Shy Kid Blues and You Are Our Singer.

This has been a welcome addition to our family music collection and I look forward to hearing more from Hullabaloo in the future.

I highly recommend this CD and give it a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: Shy Kid Blues will be available at,, iTunes, and virtually all online music services and retailers. Shy Kid Blues will release May 27, 2014.

***I received a complimentary copy of this CD, courtesy of Waldmania PR, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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