Grace's Bell

Music review by
Jennifer Axman, Common Sense Media
Grace's Bell Music Poster Image
Kids' bluegrass music that adults will love, too.

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The parents' guide to what's in this music.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know this 13-song CD has new renditions of old favorites (including an island-influenced, upbeat "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"), plus a handful of original tracks. Ben Rudnick and his award-winning band have an American bluegrass, rootsy sound that's even reminiscent of The Grateful Dead, and uses a wide variety of instruments from pedal steel guitars to mandolins.

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What's the story?

GRACE'S BELL, from Ben Rudnick & Friends, is a wonderful collection of old favorites and original tracks. The first song on the CD, \"My Name,\" cleverly introduces us to the band and its instruments to the tune of \"Old MacDonald.\" Many of the remade songs are concert staples for the band, such as \"Route 66,\" \"When the Saints go Marching,\" \"Hava Nagila\" (with a twist), and an island rendition of \"Somewhere Over the Rainbow\" in the style of Hawaiian artist Israel \"IZ\" Kamakawiwo'ole. But, the original tracks are also a treat. In the fun and humorous \"Vowels,\" Ben and his friends sing about their love of letters, and the necessity of vowels to sing their songs (\"Without vowels it's just gibberish to me\").

Is it any good?

This CD offers great renditions of old classics, plus some inspired new songs such as "Grace's Bell." This title track tells of 2-year-old Grace's "loud and clear" spirit that rings through her happy tricycle bell. And there's the welcome fun of guest musicians. "Cowgirl Song" and "Chet's Fabulous Diner" bring on a fresh sound with Buddy Cage (New Riders of the Purple Sage) on pedal steel guitar. Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies helps celebrate in "Coming of Spring" on the bodhran (a handheld drum). The CD has a tight concert feel, and the band is full of talented musicians who play everything from the accordion to the steel drums -- perfect for a lively dance session.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different instruments used on the CD and then take a trip to the library to find out more about the unfamiliar ones. It may be fun to visit a music store and actually play with the instruments. Families can also talk about some of the songs' subjects they enjoy, such as merry-go-rounds and marching with a band.

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