Tuesday, December 15, 2009
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the music. Nothing gets me in the spirit more than hearing the sound of sleigh bells, with talk of stockings on mantles, Santa flying with his reindeer and chestnuts roasting on an open fire as snow blankets the ground outside. All I have to do is close my eyes and it's as if Christmas has already arrived.
One of my favorite children's music collaborators, Putumayo World Music, has recently released a holiday album your entire clan can enjoy. A Family Christmas is a medley of both old and new festive favorites, featuring fresh interpretations of timeless hits. Representing a number of genres from blues to swing to country to folk, A Family Christmas offers something for every family member.
1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Johnny Bregar
2. Holly Jolly Christmas - Martin Sexton
3. Is Zat You Santa Claus? - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
4. Let it Snow - Leon Redbone
5. Winter Wonderland - Deana Carter
6. Sleigh Ride - Sam Bush
7. Here We Come A-Wassailing - Kate Rusby
8. Jolly Old St. Nick - Brave Combo
9. Mele Kalikimaka - Debbie Davis & Matt Perrine
10. Boogie Wooogie Santa Claus - The Christmas Jug Band
11. Frosty the Snowman - Lars Edegran and his Santa Claus Revelers
I found the CD to be joyous and uplifting. My favorite tracks were the retro story-song "Is Zat You Santa Claus?" by the quirky, fun Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Southern twang of Deana Carter's "Winter Wonderland" and the Irish folk ditty "Here We Come A-Wassailing". I think A Family Christmas would make a great last-minute stocking stuffer for a loved one or would be the perfect accompaniment to decorating your tree, baking those delicious sugar cookies or hosting a fabulous get-together.
I must have a lucky horseshoe stuck to me somewhere because, coincidentally, I also happened to win the latest release in the Putumayo Kids award-winning Playground series, European Playground, in a blog giveaway. We absolutely adore our Picnic Playground CD (read my rave review here!) so I was super duper excited to add this to our ensemble.
As with the other CDs in the collection, European Playground allows families to navigate faraway lands without leaving the comfort of their living room. This musical expedition allows you to explore the diverse amalgam of cultures and languages coinciding on one small continent. From Finland to Greece and everywhere in between, you'll find multilingual confections to delight your ears, move your feet and put a smile on your face - no matter where you come from.
1. Trampolin - Sas & Kopp (Finland/Sweden)
2. Bonjour Tout Va Bien - Les Demenageurs (Belgium)
3. Change Song - Herbie Treehead (England)
4. Stop Den Lille Kaenguru - Mek Pek (Denmark)
5. Tudom En Mar, Mit Csinalok - Alma Zenekar (Hungary)
6. En Voici, En Voila - Alain Le Lait (France)
7. Den Kanei Krio - Locomondo (Greece)
8. Tito Troca-Tintas - Buscapolos (Portugal)
9. Anneliese - Alex Schmeisser (Germany)
10. I'se the B'y - Ian F. Benzie (Scotland)
11. Alles Uit De Kast - De Band Krijgt Kinderen (Netherlands)
12. Tarantainas De La Casa Sin Pared - Biella Nuei (Spain)
13. Barengeburi-Bubuland - Roland Zoss (Switzerland)
14. La Canzone Del Battello A Vapore - Giovanni Caviezel (Italy)
15. Sandy River Belle - Sharon Shannon (Ireland)
I had high expectations for this CD, since we are so spoiled by our previous Putumayo review experiences, and I am happy to report that this one does not disappoint. European Playground has the same feel-good quality as its beloved sister version, Picnic Playground. The beauty of Putumayo Kids is that they demonstrate a love of music is universal. Even if the songs are not spoken in a familiar language, we can still sing and dance along. I love that I can expose Nate to a variety of cultures and teach him that the English language or American lifestyle is not the end all be all. The world is a big big place beyond our own backyard.
My personal favorites from the album are the bouncy pop tune "Trampolin", the hip-hop tinged, "Bonjour Tout Va Bien" and the finger snapping, folksy "Tito Troca-Tintas". I could close my eyes and imagine sitting in a French cafe or lounging in a villa overlooking a Scottish hillside. I also liked that the liner notes were written in 4 languages (English, Spanish, French and Dutch) and included a map of Europe, so when Nate is a bit older, I can show him the country from which the music of a particular song originated. This interactive, educational aspect makes the album that much more fun.
I can always count on Putumayo to deliver a one-of-a-kind, world music smorgasbord. It will be many years before I can afford to take a dream vacation backpacking through Europe but now I can just pop in this CD and travel without packing my bags or even digging out my passport.
BUY IT: You can order A Family Christmas or European Playground online at www.putumayo.com (ARV $14.98/each). You can listen to tracks, watch videos and even download mp3's. Right now, if you sign up for their newsletter, you can download a free mp3 of "Jolly Old St. Nick" by Brave Combo from A Family Christmas!
WIN IT: Putumayo is spreading good cheer by offering one lucky reader a copy of A Family Christmas!
MAIN COURSE (MANDATORY ENTRY): Check out the Putumayo Kids website and tell me another CD that you'd like to add to your collection. Be sure to leave me your email address in your comment if it isn't visible on your profile or if you are not a blogger!
SUGAR ON TOP (BONUS ENTRIES): To maximize your chances of winning, you may do any or all of the following. Be sure to complete the above mandatory entry or your bonus entries will not count!
1.) Follow my blog or subscribe via reader or email. Comment telling me which method you chose. If you already follow or subscribe, that counts! (1 entry)
2.) Follow me and Putumayo Kids on Twitter and tweet about the contest. Just leave me a comment with your tweet link. (1 entry)
3.) Add my button and/or holiday guide button to your site and comment with a link where I can find it. (1 entry for each)
4.) Enter any of my other current giveaways and leave a comment telling me which one(s) you entered. (1 entry each)
Giveaway will end on December 29, 2009 at 11:59pm EST. Contest open to U.S. only. Winner will be chosen via Random.org and will have 48 hours to respond to congratulatory email or prize will be forfeited and another winner will be chosen.
Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy of A Family Christmas from Beth at Sugar Mountain PR to facilitate my candid review. I was in no other way compensated for my post. As noted above, I won a copy of European Playground in a blog giveaway and was not compensated or obligated to post a review.