Today’s post contains a review, an interview and a giveaway—keep reading for all three or scroll through the post to find what you’re looking for, enjoy!
The Review: A Potluck and ¡Fantastico!
Today I have two awesome albums to introduce to you, and well, they’re nothing short of ¡Fantastico! When I heard about Lucky Diaz and The Family Jam Band’s latest album of the same name I jumped at the chance to get an early listen as well as a late listen to last year’s release A Potluck.
I may not always be super current around here, but I promise if I hear of something I missed that received such high praise as A Potluck (it was the #1 top cool kids album in People Magazine for 2012), well I’m going to make time in my schedule to give it a listen and I’m so happy I did.
A Potluck, is just what it sounds like a funky hodgepodge of tunes that when put together make up a feast for your ears. If you’re new to Lucky Diaz and The Family Jam Band they are no doubt one of the easiest to love bands I’ve run across. They are peppy and sing-able in a way that parents (and no doubt kids) everywhere will find themselves singing “Bah, Bah-da, Ba, Ba-da” [see: “On My Bike”] well after the music is over.
For this reason, I know you’re not going to want to miss ¡Fantastico! Because you may suddenly surprise yourself when you find you’re singing in Spanish, and wait a minute you don’t even speak Spanish (or maybe you do). Perhaps that’s part of the charm, ¡Fantastico! is meant to be enjoyed by Spanish and non-Spanish speakers alike.
I got an opportunity to ask Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis, the husband and wife team that are the heart of The Family Jam Band, a little bit about this project and here’s what they had to say—
SWZ: When musicians choose to create for children, I love to find out why. Since this is your first time on Swing Whistle Zing, can you tell me a little bit more about how you got started in the music business and what made you interested in writing and performing for children?
Lucky: Well we both grew up as performers. Both of our grandparents were folk musicians, so it was already in our familial dynamic as a way of life. I started singing songs to Ella (now 9 years old) at bath-time and it all started from there. We made silly songs based on Buddy Holly and Beatles work. Amazingly, here we are today.
SWZ: I’m excited about your upcoming release of ¡Fantastico!, what inspired you to do an album in Spanish?
Lucky: Honestly, my mother has been trying to get me to write a whole album in Spanish for a long time. She’s a Mexican visual artist. On a recent trip to visit the family in Texas I was really inspired by my Mexican heritage and sharing that with Ella. I started by playing some very old Mexican traditional songs my mother and grandmother sang in their school days in Mexico. The trip reinvigorated and reconnected me with my cultural identity as a first-generation Mexican-American and as a Latino. The songs were already in me; the trip brought them out.
SWZ: We loved last year’s release of Potluck and it’s fun to find “Tres Ratones” one of our favorite tracks from that album reappearing on ¡Fantastico! Tell me more about the creation of this album. Did you write new songs specifically for this album or will listeners find some of their favorites re-recorded in Spanish?
Lucky: We did both! “La Vibora” is a new track based on an old traditional song [“La Vibora De La Mar”]. We also re-recorded some of our old favorites like “Blue Bear” and “Let’s Dance,” hoping that it would be a great introduction to Spanish for our non-Spanish-speaking listeners. We worked with Latin music producer, Noe Benitez and mastering engineer, Gilbert Velasquez. Both are based in Texas and musicians in the Tejano music scene. We felt that working with Noe and Gilbert really gave this project a real solid perspective from the current Latin music community.
SWZ: Do you have a favorite track off of the album?
Alisha: Mine is “La Vibora.” The second this comes on I feel like dancing! I also love the rich history that is enveloped in this song. It is woven into the cloth of my husband’s familial history and now it is part of our family’s lives!
SWZ: Could you share a little bit more about how this song is so important to your husband’s history?
Alisha: Lucky’s grandmother (and his mother) used to sing this traditional Latin song to Lucky as a child. My modern take on it— Lucky is paying homage to his fame whilst making his on mark on his cultural identity. Pretty special!
SWZ: We found ¡Fantastico! to be very approachable, for us as a family who doesn’t speak Spanish. But it’s equally a good resource for bi-lingual families or classrooms who want to integrate the Spanish language into their lives. How do you anticipate this album being used the most?
Alisha: So glad you all felt that way! That was the purpose of this album—not only to make our songs completely in Spanish, but to make them so that you end up singing along even if you don’t know what it means! This is a sneaky way of learning! Personally, when I met Lucky, all I had was middle school Spanish—but it was insane how much I remembered and how much more I wanted to learn. This music was a way to make our home (and me) more bilingual. As we worked on the album, we began speaking more Spanish at home—a little here, a little there. My ear is getting better!
Our hope for the album is that families who speak Spanish can enjoy this together, families that are bilingual can listen to both versions (English and Spanish) and learn/compare songs. We hope teachers (such as my mom) can use this album in their classroom with the lyrics and the translations to reach their bilingual students and we hope to make Spanish accessible through song to those who don’t even speak it.
But most of all—we hope people dance!
SWZ: We’re gearing up for summer towards the end of the month around here, do you have summer plans? Will you be performing anywhere?
Alisha: We are touring the entire nation this summer. Seriously. From California to Oklahoma. Chicago to New York City. Portland to St. Louis. And most places in between. We are hitting the streets and reaching as many families as we can. We’re thrilled and so grateful. The tour schedule is on our site www.luckydiazmusic.com.
Thanks again to Lucky and Alisha for joining me here today to talk about ¡Fantastico!
Recommended for: Living Room Dance Parties, Saturday Night Potlucks, Spanish (and Non-Spanish) Speaking Families, Singing Out Loud, Learning Lyrics, Teacher Tracks
Lucky Diaz and The Family Jam Band are giving away TWO copies of ¡Fantastico! to TWO lucky Swing Whistle Zing readers. It’s easy to enter, just leave a comment on this post answering the following question:
What is your best dish to bring to a ¡Fantastico! Cinco de Mayo Potuck?
(Store bought chips and salsa are perfectly acceptable.)
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED, THANK YOU.
This giveaway will be open through midnight Saturday May 18, 2013, and I will announce the winner on the Monday Music Review on Monday May 20. U.S. addresses only please. Good luck!
I received promotional copies of these albums for review, however all opinions and recommendations are my own. This post also contains affiliate links, thank you for supporting my site when you choose to buy music. Want to learn more about my review and giveaway policies? Read my disclosure.