|Recording information: Austin, TX; Compass Sound Studio, Nashville, TN; Electric Comoland, Lafayette, LA; Misntrel Recording, Iowa City, IA; Sun Street Studios, County Galway, Ireland; The Office, Franklin, TN; The Tone Chaparral, Nashville, TN; The Underground Treehouse, Nashville, TN; Tour Bus; Vix Mix, Nashville, TN; Waterfall Studios, Oslo, Norway.
|Though he was a pioneering figure in the 1980s who fused country music and punk rock with his band Jason & the Scorchers, Jason Ringenberg has been enjoying unexpected success in the 21st century as a children's entertainer, performing family shows as his "identical twin" alter ego Farmer Jason, and on his third album as the singing farmhand, Ringenberg has assembled a very impressive cast of rock, country, folk, and jazz artists to celebrate the joys of the great outdoors. On Nature Jams, Farmer Jason shares 16 songs that encourage kids to get out of the house and enjoy a hike, explore the woods, and spend quality time with animals, and some famous friends tag along to help bring the tunes to life. Mike Mills from R.E.M. lets his Georgia accent rise to the fore on "Take a Hike," Hank III and Tommy Ramone play nice for a change on "Manatee," Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick joins in for some cave exploring on "Spelunker," Iris Dement swaps "Prairie Riddles" with Jason, Todd Snider once again has troubles with a moose on "The Moose Lives Where?," Celtic rockers the Saw Doctors spot some impressive aquatic mammals on "Well Oh Whale," Terrence Simien takes us to Louisiana for some "Bayou Boogie," and Brandi Carlile enjoys the scenery in "Have You Ever." As on the previous Farmer Jason albums, Ringenberg is clearly aware he's writing for a young audience and keeps the songs simple and upbeat, but they're also tuneful and more full-bodied and rootsy than the vast majority of kids' music on the market, and the musicians play with skill and genuine enthusiasm on every cut. While Ringenberg has gained plenty of experience playing for his youthful fans, many of his guests are new to this, and some sound just a bit awkward on the spoken segments that open each tune (hey, Hank III is probably not asked to talk about manatees in a family-friendly manner very often). But the music carries the day, and Ringenberg's serious message about active lifestyles and exploring nature gets just the right spoonful of sugar with some lively music that should please kids without boring their parents. Plenty of fun for all ages, which isn't the case as often as one might hope with music like this. ~ Mark Deming