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Randy Kaplan - Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie

Hip-O Records

24 tracks

Randy Kaplan produces blues music for both kids and adults. This CD is produced along the kids lines, with famed imaginary blues man Lightnin' Bobkins providing input, introducing many of the songs and adding a continuing attempt to figure out a blues name for Randy. The CD is imaginative, informative and just a whole lot of fun as it explores blues and ragtime for kids in a way they can both understand and enjoy.

Randy takes cuts from some of the blues world's legends and makes them appropriate and lyrically targeted to kids.Songs like Jimmie Rogers "In The Jailhouse Now" becomes "In A Timeout Now." Blind Blake, Robert Johnson, and a variety of other great, old time blues artists get their songs converted to something kids can understand while adults can revel in what Randy has done to these famous songs. Kaplan is full of schmaltz and has the demeanor to keep kids as enraptures as any kids' TV show does.

He also ties it together with very amusing intros and dialogue between he and Lightnin' Bobkins. Some of the blues names Lithnin' comes up with are truly hilarious. Papa Waffle Kaplan and Reading Glasses Kaplan are just two among the many that get discussed and summarily dropped. His character Bobkins and the kids who also appear hear and there are full of good and funny commentary; Mr. Kaplan's sense of humor ranges from schmarmy to novel and unique.

Randy plays acoustic guitar, harp and sings. Also featured are Mike west is on mandolin, banjos and guitar, Katie Euliss on upright bass and percussion, Colin Mahoney on drums and percussion, Bradford Hoopes on piano, Chris Leopold on trumpet, Tom Johnson on trombone, Ed Judd on tuba, Erin Parr on percussion and Cindi Kroll Haupti tap dances. There are also a number of other folks who are choristers, shakers, revelers, interjectors, irrational demanders and inquisitors on the CD. There is a nice assortment of instrumentation that kids can learn fun here, too.

The liner notes are educational and well done. I think Mr. Kaplan has outdone himself. This is a great little educational album that is as much fun to listen to as it is educational.

If you are a parent or grandparent looking for a CD to introduce blues to your kids or grand kids, this is quite the appropriate album. It would make a nice gift for the holidays or a birthday for children in elementary school. You can sample tracks on or and you will see how much fun the blues can be for kids! I tried it out on my grand kids and they enjoyed it thoroughly- the CD is a good investment in the musical futures of the youths who will listen to it and enjoy!

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.


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