GRAMMY® Award-winning The Okee Dokee Brothers encourage hope with a new collection of 27 original songs on their latest 2-CD studio album, Songs for Singin', released on Friday, May 1, 2020 (two months earlier than their original release date). At a time when families are quarantined at home, Songs for Singin' draws from the age-old tradition of singing to heal the soul during difficult times. The Okee Dokee Brothers have written a slew of catchy and inclusive songs so fans can join in and belt out. In the spirit of American folk legends Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Songs for Singin' presents timeless messages of hope and unity. The album includes an illustrated 32-page book with the lyrics and chords to every song to inspire living room sing-alongs.
Stepping away from their outdoor adventure-themed albums (Can You Canoe?, Through the Woods, Saddle Up, and Winterland), The Okee Dokee Brothers engage their fans through meaningful social conversations in the form of call and response tunes, sea shanties, church hymns, campfire songs, all-ages social songs, and protest songs. Songs for Singin' invites family members to strengthen their bonds by experiencing music together amidst the backdrop of an increasingly divided world. To capture the free-spirit and imperfections of sing-alongs, the recordings feature an array of tunes tracked live with choruses sung by kids and parents alike.
Woody Guthrie's words, humor, and life lessons are at the heart of Songs for Singin'. Homages to the revered folk icon include songs such as "Hope Machine," "One Little Heart," "Music Train," "Campin'," and "Hushabye." A special nod to Pete Seeger, the song "If You Want A Song" came about after Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing witnessed Seeger perform live in Woodstock, NY. The Okee Dokee Brothers commemorate Seeger's legacy with the filming of their latest music video for the sea shanty "Sally - O" aboard his Clearwater Sloop Sailboat on the Hudson River in New York (video is slated to be released on June 19, 2020).
At the end of the day, Songs for Singin' spans from morning (Disc 1: tracks 1-15) to night (Disc 2: tracks 16 - 27) as The Okee Dokee Brothers cover the natural rhythms carrying us through various daily routines and moods. In a time when we could all use a little more collective compassion, The Okee Dokee Brothers release yet another prolific song-cycle that's good for the heart and soul.
The Okee Dokee Brothers -- Songs for Singin' -- Featured Compositions
Songs for Singin' opens with "Hope Machine," a tribute to Woody Guthrie's journal entry entitled "New Year's Rulins" that resolves to "work more and better, wash teeth if any, and change socks." As such, "Hope Machine" is about Justin's own series of personal routine reminders he uses in order to keep his hope machine running strong. "These days you gotta be strong, so I do a push-up and sing a song," sums up the sentiment.
In the spirit of sing-alongs, Joe began hosting all-ages community jams last summer at his neighborhood creek in Minneapolis. Families bring picnics, instruments, and their voices, while Joe has books full of simple songs. These local community celebrations gather all different types of people and help unify an alienated world. "Neighborhood Band" is a jubilant number reflective of the beautifully spontaneous moments that can be created with a thrown-together community band pickin' and singin' friendly songs.
Beholding the wonder of a Pete Seeger concert, The Okee Dokee Brothers were awe-struck after seeing how Pete could command a crowd and lead a room full of singing people. The experience led the duo to write a handful of call and response tunes for their live repertoire, including "If You Want A Song." The Okee Dokee Brothers strongly believe that a family concert isn't simply about entertainment, but rather about participation and breaking down barriers between performers and the audience. Life is a conversation, a back and forth, a call and response. They learned this wholehearted lesson from Pete Seeger.
"Campin'" is for all the parents out there who have experienced the not-so-Instagram-able moments at a campsite with kids. Sung in the tradition of Woody Guthrie's talking blues style, "Campin'" uses a spelling trick to help us remember that "if you say it enough, campin' is fun."
Kids ask the darndest questions, and yet, they can also be some of the most profound. Similar to "Ask Away," Woody Guthrie wrote a kids song about children asking questions. One of his lyrics asks, "Why's there no pennies for ice cream." In this vein, Justin asks, "Why do people all grow old, why do leaves die in the cold, why are some stories never told." Sometimes it takes a kid's-eye-view to ask the biggest questions.
While balancing the pressures of having a baptism or a bris as a rite of initiation for Joe's son Hap, he and his wife elected to invite family to a small homemade ceremony down by the creek. With poetry, creek water, and a song Joe wrote for the occasion, the couple was able to capture their desire for an inclusive experience of spirituality. "Church of the Woods" emulates how Joe and his family are able to celebrate many faith traditions and root those values in the common ground of nature's grandeur.
For the song "Singin' For Me Supper," Joe returns to his Irish roots. Over the years, he's visited family and friends in Galway, Ireland and partook in many memorable late night music jams in the local pubs. On one such visit to Galway, he heard the tune "All For Me Grog" being sung to the rhythm of slamming beer mugs. Since the tune is about sacrificing your life and wife all for drinking, Joe decided to change the words and salvage a great melody that's more suitable for children. The Okee Dokee Brothers received an authentic Irish blessing of approval from Máirtín de Cógáin (from County Cork) as he joined their singing and played his bodhrán (traditional Irish drum). "Singin' For Me Supper" also features Ben Jaber (John Williams Orchestra/San Diego Symphony) on tin whistle.
Songs for Singin' covers the full day from morning (Disc 1) to night (Disc 2). Singing songs that match up with daily routines can be a life-giving ritual. Rhythmic steps on a morning stroll; syncopated raindrops in the afternoon; clanging in the kitchen; the rocking chair's lullaby. These are all times for singing, and each song is a reminder to be present through the different "Seasons in a Day."
Just as vital as empowering children and families with purposeful messages, The Okee Dokee Brothers also know that it's essential to end on a slumbersome note so everyone can get some much needed sleep. "Hushabye" is the synthesis of all their favorite dreamy tunes. From "Hobo's Lullaby" to "Brahms Lullaby," and references to sheep and shepherds, seas and sails, "Hushabye" is as much for the baby in dreamland as it is for the drifting adult.
1) Hope Machine
2) Early Bird
3) Neighborhood Band
4) One Little Heart
5) Sally - O
6) If You Want A Song
8) Music Train
9) Sunnyside Up
10) Afternoon Walk
12) Wastin' Time
14) You Are The One
15) Language Of The Flowers
16) Raise A Ruckus
18) In My Bones
19) Let's Throw A Party
20) Jumbo Gumbo
21) Ask Away
22) Church Of The Woods
23) Singin' For Me Supper
24) Go Slow
25) Thank You
26) Seasons In A Day