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MP3 Hilo Greg - Little Songs for Big Kids

This debut CD from Ann Arbor-based ukulele player Hilo Greg features six original, family-friendly tunes dealing with such important topics as Star Wars toys, macaroni and cheese, Elvis impersonators, pirates, bath time and more! Ages 5 to 55!

6 MP3 Songs in this album (16:53) !
Related styles: Kids/Family: Children''s Pop, Folk: Children''s Folk, Mood: Fun

People who are interested in Dan Zanes The Wiggles They Might Be Giants should consider this download.

Little Songs for Big Kids came about came about after a friend decided she wanted to feature me in Making Music Magazine – in a column about everyday people who make music for fun. While I was flattered, I tried to steer her toward friends who are more accomplished than I. But she persisted and I said okay, and I thought it would be nicer if readers could get an MP3 to go with the article to hear what I sounded like.

But as I started recording (in my bedroom) the project grew from a single MP3 to three songs, five songs, and finally six songs — enough for an EP. Some of the tunes needed additional flavor, so I called on a few pals to add solos and musical coloring. They recorded their parts at their homes and e-mailed them back to me.

I made some rough mixes and tested them out in my car stereo (Brian Wilson’s old trick from his Beach Boys heyday). When I was satisfied with the tracks and performances, I hired an audio engineer to give the tracks a nice, professional polish.

The process took a lot longer than I had thought, but I can honestly say I am very happy with the outcome and grateful to those who contributed to it. I hope you have as much fun listening to it as I did making it.

Some of my uke-playing pals will ask about the gear, so here goes: I used a KoAloha soprano uke for all songs except where noted. I recorded the whole album on an iMac using Garage Band, the M-Audio Mobile Pre USB Preamp and an AKG Perception 200 condenser microphone. The rhythm tracks (drums and bass) were generated with Band In A Box 2010.

And now a few words about the songs:

Star Wars Men
This was inspired by a nephew who loves Star Wars action figures – even if he doesn’t quite get who the obscure ones are (I sure don’t). It’s probably my favorite song to play live, so it was a natural to lead off the CD.

Mac And Cheese Island
Anyone with kids knows they go through a phase (hopefully it’s a phase!) where they will eat only one thing. In this case, it’s macaroni and cheese. The title and the bridge (“it’s a special place for little dudes, who don’t have a taste for fancy foods”) came to me one day in New York City in November 2008 and the rest came together around February 2010, after I had moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. One of the few people I knew in Ann Arbor, Gerald Ross, happens to be a phenomenal instrumentalist and graciously agreed to record a lap steel guitar part that really evokes the South Pacific. I play a Kamaka tenor uke on this one.

Captain Drew, The Pirate
Another nephew-inspired tune, this one was came about when four-year-old Drew was into pirates. Of course he’s waaaay too old for that now! I found the sound effects (seagulls, creaky ship and splash) in Garage Band.

My Dad Thinks He’s Elvis
Last summer I spent a very hot 12 hours in Ypsilanti, Michigan at the annual Michigan ElvisFest. Half the fun was watching the audience members walking around dressed in various Elvis garb. I thought, what would a kid think if dad walked around like that every day? They would probably think it’s just dad being dad, which is the great thing about kids. My buddy Joe Silver contributed a great lead guitar part and also came up with the “That’s All Right” harmonies at the end.

Mystery Keys
As a Virgo, nothing drives me crazier than old, unlabeled keys. So one day I decided to solve the mystery of my own mystery keys and find out where they belonged. Storywise, it wasn’t very exciting, so I took some creative license with the actual events and kicked it around for a while. The song changed keys a few times (no pun intended) until it took on a Jimmy Buffett / Margaritaville vibe, with percussion tracks and MIDI steel drums. Ukulele rocker Kat Larios helped out with some lyrical ideas and Isadora Flunkin’ provided keyboard backup. I play the rhythm on the KoAloha soprano and the intro and solo on the Kamaka tenor.

Sunday Night Blues
Another one written from a kid’s point of view, Sunday Night Blues bemoans the official end of the weekend: a bath and then bedtime. However, the dad in the song is just as guilty of procrastination, since it’s right around 7:00 p.m. and he’s trying to watch the end of the football game. The truth is, most kids I know actually like taking a bath, because there are so many toys in the tub. Once I had the title (originally, “The Sunday Night Don’t-Wanna-Take-A-Bath Blues”) the rest came about fairly quickly, maybe a couple of hours.

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