Family music and concerts in and around Los Angeles.

Music & Concerts

grammy children's music

A High Five for Grammy Children’s Music Nominees

It might be a cliché to say that the nominees for the Grammy’s Best Children’s Album are all winners – but it’s true! This year’s five contending albums are all exceptional work, and each contains something musically distinctive. Frances England instills a lovely, winsome quality to the folk-pop tunes that populate her “Explorer of the World” album. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo mixes heady raps with genre-blending kid-hop grooves on his...

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community news

A Double Dose Of Justin Roberts

Grammy-nominated children’s musician Justin Roberts will be in L.A. for two reasons in January. One reason is something you would expect: a concert. The other is something you might not expect: a theatrical performance. Roberts is coming to Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre (24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu; www.arts.pepperdine.edu) with his band and a new CD, “Lemonade,” for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. shows Jan. 21. He will also see “Hansel & Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical Treat,” a musical featuring his original...

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los angeles holiday events

Nutcracker Alternatives For Tweens

“Another Nutcracker?” your tween might moan after years of going to see sugar plum fairies dancing across stages. Your teenager might even become a Scrooge about seeing “A Christmas Carol” for the 10th time. Happily, a few December performances offer something different enough that they might hold your kids’ interest. Trumpeter Jeff Bordes will be something of a Louisiana Santa at the James Armstrong Theatre (3330 Civic Center Dr., Torrance;...

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los angeles holiday events

Get in Character for Christmas

Among best-known Christmas characters, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Grinch must rank in the top five. And both of them can be found in Los Angeles this month. Rudolph will visit just before Christmas as the star of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical,” which has a four-show run at the Dolby Theater (6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood;www.rudolphthemusical.com) at 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Dec. 23 and 10:30 a.m. Dec....

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los angeles holiday events

A Dozen Ways to Celebrate the Season around LA

Take a historical perspective to bring jolly fun to your family’s holidays. Southern California seems always interested in the future – the next cool thing, the next hot trend. Sometimes, however, it is nice to think about the past. The Christmas season is a particularly fitting occasion for this since many generations gather together to celebrate. And despite its modernistic attitude, Southern California has quite a few place that celebrate...

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choir programs in la

Choir Programs Let Kids Sing a Song

Given the chance, most kids love to sing and lots of L.A. programs will help them tune in  As Artistic Director Misha Shtangrud plays the piano to start a rehearsal for MUSYCA Children’s Choir, he sings, “Hello everybody, yes indeed, let’s make music, yes indeed.” His young students joyfully sing along, clearly enjoying the upbeat music and seamlessly transitioning to “Do Re Mi” and “Seasons of Love.” The kids, ages...

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Catch Andrew and Polly Live for Ear Snacks in LA

Andrew and Polly are a familiar presence in Los Angeles things to do in the family music scene, and their popularity has been growing due in no small part to the podcast, “Ear Snacks,” that they launched last year. Each episode explores a different topic with impressive depth. It’s like a junior version of “This American Life.” The award-winning husband-and-wife duo have collected tunes from their show’s first season for...

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los angeles events

Gather the Family for We Are LA Festival

What is more fun than a big, family-friendly music festival? A big, family-friendly music festival that is also a benefit! The first We Are LA Family Music Festival is just that type of concert, a day of great music for a great cause. The musical lineup is a who’s who of Southern California’s children’s music scene. Rhythm Child, Ozokidz, Lisa Loeb, The Hollow Trees, Lucky Diaz and The Family Jam...

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fun ideas for kids

The Globe-Trotting Musical Life of Stephen Michael Schwartz

The name Stephen Michael Schwartz is synonymous with fun ideas for kids. He is well-known in America’s family music scene, from his work in the award-winning group Parachute Express through his current solo career. But did you know he is also well-known in China? He started touring that country in 2010 and, due to his popularity, he now travels there twice a year. The Glendale-based performer recently chatted about playing...

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Support TreePeople’s Once Upon a Canyon Night Performance Series

Southern California is home to many outdoor summer festivals, but it is hard to find one quite as unique as Once Upon A Canyon Night. This performance series offers interesting shows, a lovely setting and a great cause. The Great Cause: The series serves as a fundraiser for TreePeople. It’s a low-key affair, with no proselytizing and no one going through the crowd asking for extra donations. All of the...

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fun ideas for kids

Say “Hello Friend!” To Your Musical Buddies, The Hollow Trees

For more than a decade, The Hollow Trees have been entertaining families with their music. You can call their sound “folksy” not only because their songs draw upon a variety of American folk and roots styles but also because of their warm and friendly sound. The L.A.-based band’s new album is even entitled, “Hello Friend!” The group’s co-founder, Gregory McIlvaine (aka Gregory Hollow Tree), recently filled us in about the...

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The Ford Theatre’s Fond Return

It’s a big new world at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre (2580 Cahuenga Ave. East, L.A.; www.fordtheatres.org). The performance space has re-opened after a huge renovation, and that means Big World Fun is back after a year’s absence. While the Amphitheatre has seen major improvements, Big World Fun is sticking with tradition, introducing children to music and cultures from around the globe. This summer’s six sessions start July 23 with...

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fun ideas for kids

Kid’s Clubs Turn L.A. Malls into Community Hangouts

There was a time when people went to “the mall” to shop for fun things to do in LA, and – if you were a tween – for a place to hang out with your friends. You could stroll (indoors) from store to store, and maybe hit the food court. That began to change when The Grove opened in L.A.’s Fairfax district in 2002. Featuring open space with fountains and...

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fun ideas for kids

Q&A With Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

True to his name, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is a man of mystery with fun ideas for kids. But while his true identity remains rather elusive, he is well-known in the family music scene. Since his 2009 debut “Easy,” Skidoo has enchanted audiences with his signature “kid-hop” music, which melds smartly crafted raps with funk-happy grooves. His music is very much a family effort, with his wife Brooke (aka Bootysattva)...

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Summer Concerts: Hear Music Here, There and Everywhere Around LA

During summer, music seems to be all around us in Southern California. As we seek out Los Angeles events, we have a wealth of family-friendly outdoor music series to attend, and some of them even are free! Here are some of the more notable places to hear music this summer. Warner Park For more than 40 years, The Valley Cultural Center has been presenting its free “Concerts on the Green.”...

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summer activities

Have a Hollywood Bowl Summer for Family Fun

With the kids out of school, summer activities are revving up and it is easier for the family to go out and enjoy a concert together. One great destination is the iconic Hollywood Bowl, and this season’s schedule includes a number of shows that will appeal to all ages. One of the Bowl’s first shows this summer is probably its most family-friendly. On June 3, 4 and 6, an all-star...

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Songs About Social Skills – And Us

Social skills are important in helping smooth our way through life – but they’re not something we talk about a lot. An album out this spring from SoCal singer/songwriter Kerry Fenster makes the conversation musical. “Songs About Us,” from the independent Muzic School label, is a collection of five tunes aimed at teaching social skills to children and young adults with developmental delays. The album was inspired by Fenster’s work...

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summer activities

Frozen Will Heat Up California Adventure This Summer

The Frozen phenomena reaches a new level when “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion” premieres in Disney’s California Adventure May 27. This stage version of the blockbuster film will, naturally, include songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the dynamic duo who wrote the movie’s music. The show has been adapted by four-time Tony nominee Chad Beguelin and is directed by Broadway vet Liesl Tommy. The musical will be a...

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summer activities

LA Opera for All Ages

I used to think opera only appealed to an older audience. But my daughter, who is 10, has made me think otherwise. After participating in L.A. Opera’s summer camp two years ago, she expressed interest in seeing an opera performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. We obliged – with hesitation, I admit, unsure whether we could all sit through it – and were delighted to experience the opera through Avery’s...

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fun ideas for kids

New Kindie Music For Upcoming Summer Road Trips

Summer is just around the corner and fun ideas for the kids are top priority. You can feel it in the air and you can see it on the school calendar. One thing that summer often brings is a family road trip, and it is often nice to have some music to accompany you on the journey. Here are five recently released CDs that can make your summer drive more...

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Jazzy Ash Chats About Waking Up With the Waves

The joyous sounds of music will fill the salty ocean air on the Santa Monica Pier on Saturday mornings throughout April. The popular concert series Wake Up With The Waves will return to entertain youngsters, and their parents, with a terrific lineup showcasing some of Southern California’s top family music acts, such as David Tobocman (April 16), Jazzy Ash (April 23) and the Hollow Trees (April 30). I had the opportunity...

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Dan Zanes or Gustafer Yellowgold?

Can there be too much of a good thing? Southern California family music fans might be asking themselves that very question when they see that two top kindie music acts will be performing in town March 13. On one hand, there is Gustafer Yellowgold, that animated little guy from the Sun, who will appear in Santa Monica at McCabe’s (3101 Pico Blvd.; www.mccabes.com; $10) with his human musical partner Morgan...

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José-Luis Orozco Plays a Pre-Grammy Show

The 58th annual Grammy Awards will be announced Feb. 15. This year’s nominees for Best Children’s Album are Gustafer Yellowgold’s Dark Pie Concerns, Tim Kubart’s Home, Lori Henriques’ How Great Can This Day Be, Billy Kelly & Molly Ledford’s Trees and Southern California’s own José-Luis Orozco for ¡Come Bien! Eat Right! We asked Orozco about his Grammy nomination, his latest album and his mission for multicultural education. What was your...

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Art Takes Center Stage at Night On Broadway

Night on Broadway will mark the eighth anniversary of Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway initiative – a 10-year plan to revitalize the historic Broadway corridor – with free entertainment and Los Angeles events for all ages along Broadway from 3rd Street to Olympic Boulevard from 5-11 p.m. Jan. 30. Seven of Broadway’s historic theaters will be filled with acts ranging from acrobats to performance art and...

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New Tunes On the L.A. Family Music Scene

News of a new release from Dan Zanes’ Festival Five Records would normally make it a full month for family music fans. Sonia De Los Santos, a member of Zanes’ band, is putting out her debut solo disc, Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island (My Journey: From Nuevo Leon to the New York Island). Sung primarily in Spanish, this lovely album features tunes from across the...

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The Accidental Birth of a Family Music Band

Stephanie Richards and Brian Arbuckle didn’t set out to make children’s music. When the Los Angeles-based couple recorded the songs for their debut album, Wanna Play, as Sunshine Collective, they just wanted to make an album for themselves so they could, according to Richards, “re-connect with our creative instincts after years of writing for publishing pitches. We had given ourselves total freedom and had a lot of fun.” When friends...

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Life and Music are Simpatico for Renee Stahl

Most kids music fans know the name Renee Stahl. The L.A.-based musician is the “Renee” in the duo Renee and Jeremy, which released three full-length albums in the past decade, along with one holiday EP. Stahl’s new album, Simpatico (www.reneeandfriends.com), is her first solo project, but she is far from alone on it. Jeremy Toback (the “Jeremy” in Renee and Jeremy) duets on a tune, and Lisa Loeb, Casper Babypants...

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Baritones Meet Beach Chairs During Free Opera Opener

Grab your opera glasses – and a beach chair – and head to the scenic beach near Santa Monica for L.A. Opera’s “Opera at the Beach.” Here’s your chance to see L.A. Opera’s season opener, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, staged by Woody Allen, and Pagliacci, directed by the legendary Franco Zeffirelli. And it’s free! This double bill will be broadcast live in high-definition video from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to the...

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Families Can Enjoy A Sweet Time At The Bowl

Going to the Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A.; www.hollywoodbowl.com) is always a special occasion, but this year there are some tasty treats for families among the fun summer activities. At 8 p.m. Aug. 14-15, everyone will be asking: “What’s up, Doc?” For the 25th year, Warner Bros. presents its Bugs Bunny At The Symphony concert. Classic cartoons starring Bugs and his Looney Tunes pals will be projected on...

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Getting In Tune With Lisa Loeb

Music fans first became familiar with Lisa Loeb through her hit song, “Stay (I Missed You),” which premiered on the Reality Bites soundtrack. That tune marked the first time an unsigned act scored a number-one single, and its success helped Loeb garner a deal with a major label. Her Geffen Records debut, Tails, went gold, and her third album earned her a Grammy nomination. Besides music-making, Loeb has been involved...

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Get Giddy Over The Getty’s Garden Concerts

In what has become a Southern California August tradition, The Getty (1200 Getty Center Dr., L.A.; www.getty.edu) will host a great trio of free family music concerts. This year’s series of fun summer activities sets sail Aug. 1-2 with Jazzy Ash, celebrating the release of her new album, Bon Voyage. Although based in Orange County, Ash creates music infused with the spirit and sound of New Orleans. This musical gumbo...

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children's music calling all the elephants

Musicians Dave Kinnoin and Randy Sharp Come A-Calling

For his latest album of children's music, local musician Dave Kinnoin invited L.A.-based songwriter Randy Sharp to collaborate. The result is Calling All The Elephants, a fun musical outing spiced with colorful characters and clever wordplay. Kinnoin, who has won more than 20 awards for his prior eight children’s albums, and Sharp, who has seven number-one country singles to his songwriting credit, talked about working together and creating Calling All...

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Summersounds Reflects the Sounds of the World

What are you in the mood for this summer? A Brazilian Samba? Hawaiian Hula? Maybe a little funky New Orleans Jazz or the exotic sounds from the Middle East? Your family can enjoy any or all of these types of music at the Hollywood Bowl’s Summersounds program, one of the most anticipated Los Angeles events of the season. The four-week series, geared for ages 3-9, spotlights a different music style...

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A Different Drummer

Justin Lack opens a rocking music school for kids in North Hollywood. In a small studio in North Hollywood, a young guy who could only be a musician is moving gear into the newly cleaned out space. “It’s always been my goal to run my own music school,” says Justin Lack. “I want to teach kids my way, which is as much music appreciation as learning a specific instrument. It’s...

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Dig the Tunes in Earthworm Ensemble’s Backyard Garden

Just in time for spring, Earthworm Ensemble offers new set of songs about such “earthy” topics as nature, the environment and the lives of animals and humans. Backyard Garden packs a rich bounty of rootsy music into its 13 tracks. “We wanted to share our ideas on day-to-day things we can do to keep planet Earth green, and especially to get parents and kids to engage in further conversations and exploration,”...

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A Winning Concert of GRAMMY Nominees

The Children’s Recording Arts Alliance has once again organized a benefit concert showcasing all five acts nominated for a GRAMMY award for Best Children’s Album this year. Brady Rymer, The Pop Ups, The Okee Dokee Brothers and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo will perform tunes from their honored albums, while the fifth nominee, Neela Vaswani, will read a selection from the audio book I Am Malala. The concert, much anticipated among...

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Meet The Squeegees – Again

The Squeegees are not newcomers to the Southern California family music scene. The group released their first album, Meet The Squeegees, in 2008. It was re-released a couple years later, and their new album, Veggie Soup, is a slow-cooked follow-up. It is worth re-introducing yourselves to the band because there have been a number of changes since their debut album. Samantha Tobey from the original duo fronts the band with...

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World City Spins Music and Dance From Around the Globe

During the past dozen years, the Music Center’s World City program has introduced kids to more than 75 different cultures at the intimate, outdoor W.M. Keck Children’s Auditorium (111 S. Grand Ave., L.A.; www.musiccenter.org). This year’s World City offers another stellar international lineup of interesting acts. Season 13’s seven-concert series begins Oct. 11 with a trip to Brazil when Los Masis and Bolivia Corazón de America perform traditional music and...

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The BeatBuds are Your New House Band

Whether you know them as Jonathan Jonah and Matthew Shapiro, Jonny Jingles and Matty Maracas or just the two dudes in the BeatBuds, these two guys are all about the music. For the past few years, this local duo has been a popular presence in the local family music scene. Besides playing all around Southern California, these two childhood friends also have also started doing in-home jam sessions. In these...

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Hot Music Blossoms In The Getty Garden

Family music fans will flock to The Getty Center this month for the museum’s free Garden Concerts for Kids. In its sixth year, the summer music series presents another stellar lineup, with each of this year’s trio of acts offering something uniquely educational along with their entertaining music. Kicking off the series of 4 p.m. shows in The Getty’s Central Garden (1200 Getty Center Dr., L.A.; www.getty.edu) will be Mister...

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Randy Kaplan Talks About the Tasty Tunes That Fill His New CD, Jam On Rye

By Michael Berick It seems like Randy Kaplan hasn’t met a musical style that he doesn’t like. The Los Angeles-based musician filled a shelf with awards (including a NAPPA Gold) for his last CD, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie, where he reworked old blues tunes into songs for kids. Kaplan stocks his new album, Jam On Rye, with the sounds of rock, folk, jazz, bluegrass and even a Broadway show tune....

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This Local Girl Will Bop

This Local Girl Will Bop Around the World

New Kidz Bop kid Ashlynn Chong, from L.A., dishes about being new to the crew. by Michael Berick Ashlynn Chong is proof of the adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” When she was 9, she auditioned to be in Kidz Bop Kids – the youth singing group that has sold more than 14 million CDs worldwide. She didn’t make the cut. Last year, the 12-year-old Los...

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Barney Saltzberg

Barney Saltzberg Takes His kids’ Music Around the World

Author, illustrator and songwriter Barney Saltzberg appears at Theatricum Botanicum on the heels of a tour of China and Russia. by Michael Berick Barney Saltzberg is a quadruple threat of creativity – an author, illustrator, songwriter and performer. The native Angeleno has written nearly 40 children’s books and recorded four CDs, including Crazy Hair Day, which features guest appearances from Jackson Browne, Peter Himmelman and Dustin Hoffman. Besides making appearances...

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