Discovering Local Music Talent and A Giveaway from The Plaza Family Band!

The following is by contributor Jennifer Brown.

Sometimes the best things in life can be found right outside of our own front doors:  tonight’s special at the locally owned restaurant, the neighborhood’s annual Fall Festival, locally grown and prepared apple butter.

This month I want to share some music with you by a band I found right outside of my (virtual) front door in my hometown of Charlotte, NC.

This giveaway has ended.  Thank you!

The Plaza Family Band is comprised of some talented musicians whose love for children and quality children’s music shows in their release of not one but two albums as a fundraiser project for a local area preschool program.

If you’re a parent of a preschooler there are just some kid songs you can’t escape like:  “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Five Little Monkeys” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”  And so often those tend to be the ones we want to escape.  So, when I first heard “Playground Hootenanny” (album #1) I was so excited with the quality and parent friendliness of the music that I immediately went back for more with “Wee Jamboree” (album #2).  Our whole family could jam with a smile and I immediately knew this band shouldn’t be local anymore.

Insert drum roll…

So, this month I am thrilled to introduce to you The Plaza Family Band with an interview with Mike Strauss, one of the band’s founders.  I wanted to take this unique opportunity to give you all a little look into the world of a local grassroots music production and perhaps inspire you to support their efforts and the efforts of others like them in your communities.

You can also find them on Amazon and their official website.  Don’t forget to check out the details of our giveaway at the end of the interview.

The Interview

SK:  I’m so excited to be able to promote some local talent and give our Simple Kids readers a look behind the scenes into the world of children’s music!  I have to tell you that once we received copies of your CD’s they very quickly became regular requests in our car.  Tell me a little bit more about the band, who you are and how you got started, do any of you have any previous band experience?

PFB: Before the band started there was just an observation:  Wow, there are a bunch of musicians here at Plaza Preschool. I would hear from a parent or teacher: Did you know Forrest’s dad plays piano or Lucy’s dad is in band too?  So hanging around the playground after school while the kids played we would talk.

One day I was in a parent advisory board meeting at the school and the topic of fundraising was brought up, and I wondered if some sort of kid’s CD project would be possible. Before I approached [the director] with the idea I talked it over with a few musicians to see if they thought we could pull it off. [The director] thought it was a good idea and we went to work right away. All of the musicians donated their time and talents and all proceeds from CD sales go back to the school.

Right now, there about nine people in The Plaza Family Band…All of the performers on the CDs have children that attend the preschool (or did at one time). Some have been in bands that have recorded for major record labels and some have toured the world in professional bands.  Others make their living playing music others play music part time or for fun.

SK:  As a mom I particularly enjoy hearing songs I recognize from my own childhood in a format that is adult ear friendly!  How did you decide what type of music/which songs to include in your repertoire?  What was your inspiration to “mix up” some old favorites & sing them in new ways (such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star & Skip to My Lou)?

PFB: I think part of the idea was to take some familiar and traditional songs and interpret them in a way that was maybe a little different that we’ve heard them before. We tried to keep in mind that, hopefully, this would be something that families listened to together and they would have a chance to let kids know that these songs have been around a while. Parents and Grandparents probably sang these songs when they were little.

Sometimes when we looked at a song, like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I was surprised to learn that there were additional verses that I hadn’t heard before. A lot of these songs weren’t always labeled “kids” songs, just songs.

We also tried to incorporate a little of each style that the performers brought. There are backgrounds in old-time, Latin, Reggae, Pop, Rock and Americana in the band. They all informed the sound.

SK:  The mix of different styles is something I really love about the albums!  You’ve put together a really unique combination.  We’ve also really enjoyed the original tracks, tell me a little bit more about how those came about.

PFB:  In the band there are a number of folks who are songwriters. As the project got rolling, some folks were inspired to write some original songs for the CDs. They really add some depth to the CDs and I think they are some of the best things on there. “Frogtown” might be our most popular song with kids. Parents always enjoy “Day with Dad.”

SK:  I understand you have done some live performances in addition to putting out your CD’s.  Did performing in front of an audience come before or after the CD’s?  How often are you able to perform and where might your fans look for you?

PFB:  It’s funny; for the most part both CDs were recorded this way: drop the kids off at the preschool at 9am, head over to the studio and record until it was time to pick them up at 1pm. We’d do that three days a week and schedule the person whose part we would be working on. We did that for a couple of months.  The full band didn’t perform together (at the same time) until it was time to rehearse for the CD release party!  The real joy comes from playing music together, especially in front of families.

Since the CD came out we’ve managed to get together for quite a few shows. We’ve played a number of local festivals [in Charlotte, NC]. We’ve even played at other preschools!  We have a website and Facebook page where we post upcoming shows.

SK:  Do you currently have any plans for the future?

PFB:  Since we’ve recorded the CDs a few of the kids have passed preschool age and I was wondering how that would affect things, but it seems that everyone involved is still very excited to be a part of the band. We are looking ahead to playing more shows and I hope we continue. It is fun.  We did talk about recording a Christmas CD….

Also, you never know it might be that each spring a new batch of parents could come in and carry it on. We can pass it down.

SK:  We have a wide variety of talented readers, if someone out there is currently or considering pursuing their own passion for music, do you have any words of wisdom for those folks?

PFB: Be patient. Music shouldn’t be a competition.  Share your talent.

I hope you are inspired by this little local band with a big sound.  Give them a listen on Amazon or ITunes and if you decide to buy the whole album (or both) I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  Plus you get to support a fantastic preschool program that’s nurturing potential future musicians like these.

The Giveaway

The Plaza Family Band is also generously offering up 3 sets of their CD’s to 3 lucky Simple Kids readers! 

To Enter

Just leave a comment to this post telling us what song from childhood you remember as being your favorite or if you want, give a shout out to a local band in your area we’d love to see those too!

 This giveaway will end at midnight EST Saturday October 29.  Good luck!  This giveaway has ended.  Thank you!

As always happy listening!

About Jennifer

Jennifer, is a stay at home mom to two energetic, fun loving boys ages 6 and 2. She found a new passion in exploring great children's music after becoming a mom, which she blogs about at Swing Whistle Zing. Jennifer fancies finding quality tunes the whole family can enjoy, and dancing with her boys (both big and little) to her favorite songs that connect her to the past & keep her grounded in the present.

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  1. To be honest, I don’t remember a favorite song as a kid…I just know inwas ALWAYS listening and singing!

  2. I loved Puff the Magic Dragon. My Grandma, Mana, used to play it for me on the organ. Happy memories!

  3. The song I remember singing most was The Itsy, Bitsy Spider. Thanks for the chance to win!

  4. My favorite song as a kid, and to sing to my own sons, is Rainbow Connection. My favorite local artist is my husband, Bernie Rogers. He plays a unique style of instrumental music. You can check him out on itunes or at his website,

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. Wow! This is wonderful. I don’t think I have a favorite kids song. I used to do my homework to David Bowie and the likes!! My mom made up songs that I know sing to our kids. I think those are my favorite. Our kids took guitar lessons last year from Dillon Hodges who is a local player.

    Thanks for introducing a new group. Very excited to see parents coming together in a new way and sharing talents.
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  6. I am a kindergarten teacher – so I cannot escape kids songs – my favorite, today, would be “five little bluebirds sitting on a hill…”
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  7. My favorite song as a little girl was “This little light of mine”. I loved the atmosphere of being at bible school around my friends and this was always a song we sang.

  8. I think my favorite song as a child was “You are my Sunshine”. I would love to introduce my kids to something new!

  9. Ring around the rosie was by far my favorite childhood song

  10. Down By The Bay.
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  11. I remember we sang Rainbow Connection as a class for our kindergarten graduation and I LOVED it! I even had the Muppets album and played it on my Fisher Price record player! And as I type this, I am realizing that I still know all of the words!

  12. Wow – what fantastic music! I’d love to win, but if I don’t I will absolutely be buying the CDs…

    I loved all the songs we sang at Girl Scout camp as a child…we sang a lot of folk songs & I remember loving “Four Strong Winds” and “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane.” As far as “children’s” songs went…I always liked singing along with “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.” 🙂

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  13. We received Elizabeth Mitchell’s “You are my little bird” as a baby gift and that baby now sings “3 little birds” to her little sister!

    I don’t remember songs from my childhood, but I truly hope my girls will always remember singing along with these artists fondly!

  14. I remember the coke song…

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  15. My dad used to sing me old English ballads and songs from musicals. “Froggy Went a-Courtin'” and “Sing ing in the Rain” were favorites. Shout out for Caspar Babypants from Seattle! He is Chris Ballew, former singer for The Presidents of the Unites States of America, and he does kids music now! We love all four of his cds – you will love him if you check him out!

  16. any Pete Seeger song, and love Puff the Magic Dragon song.

  17. I loved Somewhere Over the Rainbow

  18. I loved (and still love) “You are my sunshine” 🙂

  19. I loved ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’

  20. Carol Frey says:

    No words, but anything by John Philip Sousa was my dance music. Seriously.

  21. {hush little baby}

  22. How much fun! my fav songs as a kid were the ones that built up and got longer and longer, like “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly” or “There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.” I loved the challenge of remembering the words!

  23. “If you’re happy and you know it” and “the B-I-B-L-E” were two of my favorites. We live in Ukraine now and my 2 year old is learning some of their kids’ songs. I’d love the CD to remember some US traditional songs!

  24. I don’t remember one particular song that was my favorite, but I do remember the set of children’s music on 45s we had that we listened to. My kids don’t even know what a record is! I remember a Seasame Street album we had too…I should ask my mom if she still has that!

  25. One of my favorite songs as a kid was “Inch by Inch”—I loved (still do!) to sing about making my garden grow. My kids and I now love to sing together, and one of our current favorites is “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”.

  26. My favorite songs were anything that I could jump rope to with my friends!

  27. nopinkhere says:

    Either You are my Sunshine or I’ve been Working on the Railroad.
    I love recommendations for kids music that is fun for adults too. Thanks!

  28. Sounds great. My favorite was first name initial by annette funicello…we had my mom’s old 45! 🙂 my dad also would sing us o danny boy, old man river and this song from, i think, my fair lady that I still love! As I got older, and was a caregiver, I always enjoyed philadelphia’s npr kid’s show every tuesday night where I was introduced to Trout Fishing in America. Most recently, for my son, we love special agent 23 skidoo…his songs are catchy and fun to sing with a great message I hope my son incorporates in his living, though hes not local.

  29. it’s hard to pick just one kids’ song…maybe “father abraham” or “jesus loves me” or “oh my darlin'”? there were so many favorites.

  30. As a kid, we always listened to country music, and I loved all of it. But we also loved 5 Little Monkeys.

  31. I still love Senor Don Gato

  32. I loved the songs from The Sound of Music when I was a kid (still do!). “I Have Confidence” was probably my favorite.

  33. I saw Laura’s comment about “Rainbow Connection” and had to add a second! We sang that in our preschool/kindergarten programs as well. Still brings tears to my eyes when I hear it as I have such great memories from that time.

    Shout out to my favorite “local” band: Recess Monkey! Field Trip and The Final Funktier are amazing albums. They’re from my hometown area (Seattle), one of the guys went to high school with my sister-in-law, and we’ve been lucky enough to catch them in concert when we’ve been back visiting family.
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  34. Jesus Loves Me (and now we sing it with my 2 year old Sunday School class).
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  35. anything from “free to be you and me”!

  36. so i was one that made up my own songs and sang into the bed post;) we happily sang Elvira on roadtrips- scary I know.

  37. I love this post! You are my Sunshine would probably win the childhood prize, though i have more memories of humming my older sister to sleep with songs that i would make up.

  38. My mom was always making up funny songs to tell us to do stuff. Those are my favorite childhood “songs.” 🙂

  39. That is a great interview and it is inspiring to know their answers. I know that there are a lot of songs I loved as a child. I can’t remember all of them but one that is most memorable is puff the magic dragon by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow.
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