By Patricia Hall, FairfaxFamilyFun.com
We recently celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, so the timing for Mr. G to host his Washington, DC-area release party for his latest CD, “ABC Fiesta,” couldn’t be any better: his show is Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Jammin’ Java in Vienna (10:30 am concert).
Mister G – or Ben Gundersheimer, for long – is an indie rocker turned award-winning children’s musician who’s blended his whose passion for, and formal education in, music, with his love for and travels through Latin America. The result is ABC Fiesta, his literacy-themed, bilingual CD, released on September 28th, 2013 in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The CD is a collection of original songs celebrating Mister G’s first loves: music and reading. The songs are simple, lighthearted tunes that kids and parents can easily sing along to (maybe learning a bit of Spanish along the way, too!).
Songs such as “Cocodrilo” and “Ratones” have a more distinctive Latin beat, but overall the album is a “worldbeat inspired celebration” with influences from the worlds of reggae, folk music, funk, zydeco, and other styles. Some songs are hard to group into any one particular genre, but that’s what makes them more fun. “Cuento,” for example, is a “lilting, acoustic, reggae lullaby written from the perspective of a child who wants to be read a story” (per Mister G’s site). If you can’t imagine what a “reggae lullaby” sounds like, think of a fun but mellow ska sound. (Actually, to be frank, the song to me was reminiscent of a softer Manu Chao tune. I realize that is likely a very obscure reference for many readers, but if you know Manu Chao you’ll know what I mean.)
Another fun surprise: the little language tidbits about different words in different countries. If you grew up bilingual as I did, I could say it’s about “habichuelas vs. frijoles” and you’d immediately get the inside joke. Listening to this CD, though, everyone can start to understand the language nuances. In short little conversations between some songs, Mr. G. sheds light on this very common problem of Spanish not being the same from country to country: beans are just beans in English, but in Puerto Rico they are “habichuelas” while in other places they are “frijoles,” just as you’d take the “guagua” in Puerto Rico if you want to ride the bus, but in other places you’d take a “camion” or “autobus.” (Think of how U.S. vs. British English or, even within the United States, regionalisms such as “soda” vs. “pop.”)
The CD is likely geared toward younger children, but I think it’s safe to say that kids of all ages (and adults, too!) would enjoy listening to this. The rhythms are definitely not “kiddie” sounds, so this could be an album you could listen to again and again. I know my son and I did!