Feb
13

Album Review – Farmer Jason & Buddies “Nature Jams”

February 13, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  15 Comments

Once again, Jason Ringenberg proves why he is cooler than the rest of us.

Possibly better known to you as the cowpunk pioneer and legendary frontman of Jason & The Scorchers, Ringenberg’s alter ego “Farmer Jason” brings some serious passion to his new release Farmer Jason and Buddies: Nature Jams. Far from your average fare of kids albums, Nature Jams includes all original songs and some mouth-watering collaborations mom and dad can appreciate. Hank Williams III, Todd Snider, Brandi Carlisle, Tommy Ramone, Iris Dement, and Mike Mills from REM are just some of the names that stop by to help Farmer Jason entertain your little ones without wearing you out with the usual white washed kid album sounds.

What I like about this album is that it’s real, original music, that is written and arranged for kids, but doesn’t talk down to them. It is played on real instruments by a lot of great folks that are respected in their craft, and begins a young person’s musical journey on a strong foundation of quality, originality, and craftsmanship, while still being very accessible to kids through it’s themes and music. With fine arts budgets being cut in public schools, it is up to parents to make sure their children are instilled with the appreciation of music that will make their music journey’s fulfilling, and Farmer Jason gives them an excellent tool in Nature Jams.

The message of Nature Jams is to get out there and be active by exploring your world. From canoeing with banjo player Alison Brown, to spelunking with Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick, from Celtic-style music with The Saw Doctors to cajun music with Terrance Simien, Farmer Jason takes the kiddos on a journey the bridges music, nature, geography, and knowledge. Is this one of those kids albums that adults can enjoy exclusively, kind of like Taj Mahal’s Shake Sugaree? My feeling is probably not, especially with the dialogue that begins the songs. But at the same time, you will find yourself being engaged by this music, and carrying it around with you in a hum during the rest of your day.

Something else that’s great about this album is that the collaborations create a primer of some of these artists whose names you’ve probably heard, but may have not been able to explore deeper. Brandi Carlisle’s yodeling on “Have You Ever” is sublime. Webb Wilder’s “Buffalo or Bison” poem is one of the treats of this album. And the diversity of style that Farmer Jason employs keeps this album spicy. Is this the first kids album with heavy metal riffs on it? I’m not sure, but I guarantee it’s the first with heavy metal riffs mixed with folks ballads, country, and cajun music.

Nature Jams also gets extra animal crackers for great packaging and presentation with the CD that includes a bonus DVD with four videos, which are also playing on the new music video channel for kids, www.mykazootv.com.

In a funny twist of fate, Jason Ringenberg, known most for his manic frontman antics with The Scorchers, found a way to mature in his music career by singing to kids. His honesty, genuineness, engaging nature and fun-loving style make him a natural children’s entertainer, and makes Nature Jams such a true and cool extension of his natural character.

Two water pistols up!

Track List:

  1. Nature Jams
  2. Can You Canoe (with Alison Brown)
  3. Take A Hike (with Mike Mills of REM)
  4. Well Oh Whale (with the Saw Doctors)
  5. Meadowlark in Central Park (with Suzy Bogguss)
  6. Bayou Boogie (with Terrance Simien)
  7. Prairie Riddles (with Iris Dement)
  8. Buffalo Or Bison? (by Webb Wilder)
  9. Dison The Bison (with Webb Wilder & Steve Gorman {of the Black Crowes})
  10. Spelunker (with Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick)
  11. The Glacier (with Jason & The Scorchers)
  12. Manatee (with Hank Williams III and Tommy Ramone)
  13. No Place Like The Woods (by Victor Whooten)
  14. The Moose Live Where? (with Todd Snider)
  15. Have You Ever (with Brandi Carlisle)
  16. Skating Along (with Kristi Rose & Farmer Jason family)

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Farmer Jason has been around since 2003, and won an Emmy Award in 2009 for his work with Nashville Public Television.  He’s on the myKaZoo Music label with Universal.

Purchase Nature Jams Directly from Farmer Jason

Preview & Purchase Tracks from Amazon

15 Comments to “Album Review – Farmer Jason & Buddies “Nature Jams””

  • Hard to image some of those folks doing children songs

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    • That is what’s so cool about it. If Hank3 set off to make a kids record, we’d look at him sideways. But by working with Farmer Jason whose been doing this for darn near a decade now, he gets to dip his toes in that water. I don’t have any kids and don’t particularly appreciate kids music as a rule, but the scope, approach, and idea behind this album is what gets me excited about it.

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  • I’ll be buying this for my boy for sure..!

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  • How heavy metal are we talking here? Is it like Hank3 side project heavy, or more like the clip you provided? I think my son will love this but we are stearing clear of the metal music till he is a bit older.

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    • Ha! No, Dison the Bison is about as hard as it gets. When I talk about “heavy metal riffs” I mean heavy guitar with distortion and stuff. At no point does the music get inappropriate for kids whatsoever, sonically or thematically, and that is what is so cool about it. He’s able to inject modern music tones into kids music, but it is still totally kids music. That is a hard balance to strike, and Jason does it perfectly.

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      • Awesome, gunna pick this up for sure then. Thanks for the heads up on this.

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  • anything that tries to get kids up off their dead collective asses is a good thing. nice to see established artists helping out.

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  • I appreciate Jason’s commitment to good children’s music, and have heard his live “Farmer Jason” is great, but I would rather just play the kids good music, period. Sure, there are things I wouldn’t play for them, or songs I skip because of the language or lyrics, but kids tend to like anything with a catchy chorus they can sing. I also think it is important for them to learn traditional songs and recognize great artists like Cash and Hank. Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions album is great for kids, and I also play the folk and country albums I grew up with in my parent’s house. I am always surprised when people, even my age (mid 50s), don’t know songs that I think are just part of our culture.

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    • That is a very good point and I’m glad you made it! I was thinking about that when I was writing this review.

      This is kind of the way I look at it: First, some kids just don’t dig adult music. An album like this could be a happy medium. It could also be better when kids are let’s say 3-5, and then you graduate them to adult music later. I agree, we tend to talk down to kids in music sometimes. If our kids can’t enjoy the music we listen to as adults, what does that say about us, or the music we listen to?

      This is all easy for me to say of course with no kids, but I think if I had kids, I would try to get them on adult music as early as I could. The problem is, the lack of music education and appreciation at this point is generational. Not only are kids not being taught music appreciation, their parents never were, by their parents or the schools. An album like this could be like a Trojan Horse to kiddos who otherwise may not have a chance to be exposed to real music.

      When I was a kid, I hated kids music. I swear, even at a young age I felt something was fake about it, and that I was being talked down to. I listened Christmas carols, Weird Al, and adult music instead. But I think I would have dug this album, and that’s how I thought about it when trying to review it from a kid’s perspective.

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  • I understand the idea of “just play good music” for the kids, but you’d be surprised, they love having songs and lyrics that are just for them, and parents can be assured this one is not stupid and annoying. Jason has so masterfully created a collection of songs that speak to kids while making grown-up toes tap too.

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  • I ordered this cd a few days ago and i had no clue what it is. funny to find a review of it here now and to see that there are so many guest singers on it. especially hank 3…

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  • if you have kids you would understand.. justin bieber? fresh beat band? yo gabba gabba? or farmer jason… ill take this album over and over again for 1000 miles over listening to anymore disney bullshit… my kids do like no sleep blues by wayne the train.. they call it the 1 o clock song… so im trying to raise’em right lol

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  • Finally picked this one up on a whim, it is a pretty damn good album. I’d listen to it on my own without my daughter. Definitely a great album of good music for kids.

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