Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith has made a career out of combining funk, hard rock and jazz styles to support his primary band’s stew of eclectic arena rock. Though RHCP has been his main gig for two decades, he has ventured outside the family for a handful of projects (including the hard rock supergroup Chickenfoot and his own band Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats). His latest foray into non-RHCP-related territory is Rhythm Train, a narrative album of music for kids he cut with singer Leslie Bixler and Dick Van Dyke (who apparently raps).
It’s actually not all that shocking for Smith, as he and his two main Red Hot Chili Peppers compatriots (Anthony Kiedis and Flea) all have kids of their own. Even though he has performed songs about doing heroin under bridges and engaging in freaky sex with nymphomaniacs, Smith’s foray into music for children is the latest in a long line of groups who have dipped their toes in the kiddie pool.
She began her career as a coffee shop crooner, was discovered by Ethan Hawke, had a chart-topping single before she even had a record deal and put out a series of increasingly excellent but largely ignored albums (2004’s The Way It Really Is remains one of the most criminally overlooked records of the past decade). In 2003, she cut an album with Ida singer and songwriter Elizabeth Mitchell for Catch the Moon, a folk-flavored run through some classic kids tunes that also came with an illustrated book. 2008 brought Camp Lisa, a collection of campfire tunes (plus covers of the “Meatballs” theme “Ready for Summer” and the Neil Young tune “Love is a Rose”).
They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants were always in danger of veering into kids’ territory anyway (keep in mind that they recorded “Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)” before they dropped their first all-kids album). At this point, they pretty much devote all of their energy to young’un rock full time. To date, the band have put out four kids’ albums.
The former frontman of alt-rock weirdos the Presidents of the United States of America has put out a pair of albums as Caspar Babypants, both of which channel his knack for power pop hooks into singalongs about dogs and nature.
Like They Might Be Giants, Barenaked Ladies always threatened to be juvenile enough to become a kids’ band (luckily, their Canadian pathos lives on, especially on their excellent new album All In Good Time). Still, that didn’t stop them from recording Snack Time, which won them a Juno Award for Best Children’s Album in 2009.
Sure, the Marley family is about feeling good and living a laid-back life, but they’re also about family. Hence Family Time, his kid-friendly 2009 solo album that acted as a sort of My First Reggae record.
Who is your favorite rocker who makes music for kids? Let us know in the comments!