Kid’s music, if you haven’t been paying close attention, has come a long way since Raffi, Barney, and The Wiggles.  Sure, there are still earnest folkies, costumed characters, and manufactured cheesiness being bandied about, but right there under your nose are dozens of authentic, musically engaging, and genuinely hilarious bands serving young families a diverse buffet of music to devour together. Long gone are the days of ‘grin and bear it’ with kiddie music.  It’s all grinning from this point forward. Here are a handful of family concerts this month that will delight you and your kiddos (seriously!)!

1. Princess Katie & Racer Steve
Thurs, Sept. 13 at 6:00pm
FREE
Washington Market Park

If Prince William dressed like he was prepping for his NASCAR debut, and could shred on an electric guitar, our allies in England would be that much closer to having their very own children’s supergroup.  As it is, the more famous royal pair opts for timid apparel, save for those outrageously large special occasion hats, and by all accounts they don’t own a single amp! The opposite is true of kindie rock’s royal couple, Princess Katie and Racer Steve.  This real-life husband and wife duo dress the part and will drive kids wild with their tight, saccharine-sweet, high-energy pop-rock and cartoonish-in-a-good-way get-ups.

Band Website: princessracer.com
Venue/Tickets: washingtonmarketpark.org

2. Gustafer Yellowgold – With Strings Attached
Sat, Sept. 15 at 11:00am
$28 pp with 8-pack family packages available
Skirball Center
60 Washington Square South

Having been asked to open for Wilco and The Polyphonic Spree, and with gushing praise from Entertainment Weekly, NPR, The New York Times, and The Onion, no kid’s band sports a more impressive press page.  And for good reason – this animated character from the sun and his odd lot of Earthly friends are immediately loveable like your favorite old stuffed animal, and creator/illustrator/songwriter Morgan Taylor’s songs are steeped in a healthy appreciation for KISS theatrics and classic rock song structure.  This special Yellowgold concert will feature a 2-person string section to further flush out the soft-rock gorgeousness in front of the short animated films that accompany the music.

Band Website: gustaferyellowgold.com
Venue/Tickets: nyuskirball.org/calendar/gustafer

3. Lunch Money
Sun, Sept. 23 at 11:00am
$15 pp
92Y Tribeca
200 Hudson St.

You might think that the word adorable would be rock-n-roll kryptonite but in the case of South Carolina’s Lunch Money, you’d be at least 125% wrong. The impossibly charming songwriter Molly Ledford and her band of merry men bring a Shins-like quirkiness to the kindergarten set.  After writing witty, kid-centric songs about dollhouse parties, gigantic cookies, and tiny dinosaurs over the course of their first three albums, the band turned the focus inward on their newest CD Spicy Kid with delicate parenting songs guaranteed to moisten eyes.  At this rare NYC appearance for the foursome, expect to shed a few wistful tears in between watching your kids spin themselves dizzy.

Band Website: lunchmoneymusic.com
Venue/Tickets: 92y.org

4. The Deedle Deedle Dees, in collaboration with PS 29
Sat Sept. 29 at 4:00pm
FREE
Carroll Park
President & Smith Streets
Brooklyn, Ny

Hate to break it to you, kids, but when adults say that ‘learning is fun’, sometimes they’re fibbing with fingers-crossed tightly behind their backs.  The Deedle Deedle Dees represent one instance when the educational cliché is beyond true.  This scruffy Brooklyn quartet play an aggressive style of Americana not totally unlike The Avett Brothers, only with songs about history & baseball instead of pretty girls & heartbreak.  Whether you eagerly traveled to Civil War battlefields as a child or couldn’t name a single U.S. president without the help of an encyclopedia, you will soak up the Dees’ passionate rock-n-roll presentation of fascinating historical characters like Amelia Earhart, Satchel Paige, Marie Curie, and Henry Hudson.  And you’ll have fun too, especially during the songs featuring a kids’ choir from PS 29!

Band Website: thedeedledeedledees.com
Venue: carrollparkbrooklyn.org

5. Elska – Middle of Nowhere CD release
Sun Sept. 30 at 11:00am
$15 pp
92Y Tribeca
200 Hudson St.

With the hipster oddness of Bjork, and the trance-inducing visual properties of The Teletubbies, Elksa’s vibraphone-tronica music and Icelandic fantasyland videos are poised to be the next big thing in toddler entertainment.  At her must-see CD release show, expect to fall in love with a sleepy artic fox, travel to Shushi Valley, and finally, once and for all, discover where all of your lost socks have gone.

Band Website: islandofelska.com
Venue/Tickets: 92y.org

Where do you and your kids go to rock out in the city? Let us know your choice musical picks in the comment section below. 

— Jeff Bogle

photo credit: MadisonSquareParkConservancy