________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 11 . . . . January 25, 2008


Gonna Keep Dancing: Poems with a Musical Twist for Kids & Families.

Eddie Douglas. Lyrics by Jo Ellen Bogart, Loris Lesynski, Robert Munsch & Charles Wilkins.
Guelph, ON: Fat Flea Music (order from 18 Beattie St., Guelph, ON N1H 8N1 or from Fat Flea Music), 2007.
1 CD, 48 min., 54 sec., $19.95.

Kindergarten-grade 6 / Ages 5-11.

Review by Jeff Nielsen.

***½ /4

On the back of his CD, Eddie Douglas sports the bright colours, acoustic guitar and hammy expression of your run-of-the-mill kids' entertainer. Oh those first impressions!

     What Eddie Douglas has produced, in fact, is a first rate contemporary folk album. The musical performance, whether it's Douglas's tasteful guitar picking and mandolin flourishes or Ron Roy's relentless bass, the quality is far above the simple tunes and arrangements for which children's albums are known.

     The CD cover, displaying conga drum, accordion and fiddle, hints at the diversity within. Indeed, Douglas seamlessly integrates jazz, Celtic, country, bluegrass and even light rockabilly into his gentle folk-rock album. These genre explorations don't feel as if he's just playing dress-up. “Old Mrs. Schmatterburg” is the fun mid-tempo rockabilly number, “Once upon a Time”'s tin whistle is one of the more explicitly Celtic songs, and “Dirty Dog Boogie” is well...just that.

     Douglas's primary approach in Gonna Keep Dancing is to write music for children's poems. In his debut album, 2002's self-produced Alligator Ice Cream-Jelly Delight! he used the poems of Dennis Lee. For his next trick, he has gone to a number of other Canadian writers including Robert Munsch. What a simple yet wonderful idea! Instead of another batch of kids' songs expressing the point of view of the writer's target audience, Douglas has given us rollicking word-play set to music.

     If a fault is to be found in Douglas' collection of songs, it is in the mid-tempo, almost James-Taylor-like pace of the album. An album aimed at 6 to 12-year-olds needs more numbers where the beat is as rollicking as the words. Perhaps the studio production slowed things down a bit. Surely in front of an engaged audience, Douglas would pick up the pace. Gonna Keep Dancing is, however, a perfect album for adults and children to share as they settle into quiet time.

Highly Recommended.

Jeff Nielsen teaches high school history in Lorette, MB and has a bit of a thing for up-tempo music regardless of genre.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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