Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Colored Pencil Factory CD by Astrograss

Finding fun children's music is fun adventure. Mostly you want something entertaining for the kids, and something that doesn't bother the adults. This can be a hard thing to find, but you won't be disappointed with the newest from Astrograss in their The Colored Pencil Factory CD.

The product:




While the tunes on Astrograss’s album are intended for the pre-tweens in the audience, it’s just as pleasing to any adult who hasn’t killed off the child inside … Throughout, the acoustic musicianship is superb, which makes it all worthwhile for those sitting in the driver’s seat and the passengers in back.”  – John Patrick Gatta,

“Unplugged charm …  often very funny acoustic music with plenty of mandolin, violin, and rootsy harmonies …There’s no arguing with the tremendous musicianship on display here.” 
– Jeff Giles,

BROOKLYN, NY (July 31, 2012) – With a nine year track record of mixing authentic bluegrass, down-home humor, and original, progressive songwriting, NYC’s premier bluegrass band for all ages, Astrograss, pulls out all the stops with theOctober 16 release of their third CD, The Colored Pencil Factory (Smoggy Borough Records, $15.00, for all ages, run time 49 minutes).

Every song on The Colored Pencil Factory celebrates imagination and adventure with high energy and high enthusiasm in a blend of old-time Appalachian mountain music, traditional bluegrass, progressive bluegrass/newgrass, and even a bit of Eastern European folk music.

Two years in the making, The Colored Pencil Factory presents a living document in song, showing how a traditional art form like bluegrass can speak of the joys, dreams, and even the troubles of today's kids in a musical language saturated with cultural history.  NotesAstrograss's Jordan Shapiro, "I believe that bluegrass music, and all American folk music, is essential listening for kids, and I also believe that the purity of the music is important.  We made The Colored Pencil Factory without the use of any amplifiers, drums, pedals, or 'effects.'  We recorded the album in our fiddle player's living room and played the songs just the way we'd play them at a park or in a kitchen.  It's pure, organic, natural Americana."

In addition to engaging settings of traditional tunes like "Shortenin' Bread," "Cluck Old Hen," and "Sail Away Ladies," the album showcases a collection of new songs by the team of Jordan Shapiro and Joe Grossman.  Shapiro and Grossman have been writing together since 1995, and their musical collaboration over the past 17 years has received accolades at venues ranging from off-Broadway theaters to bluegrass music festivals.

The original, adult version of Astrograss was formed in 2003, but it only took the band two years to decide to expand its horizons to include kids.  All five members of Astrograss are music educators, and when “Astrograss for Kids” was born in 2005 it was inspired by classroom experiences in Brooklyn public schools.  

Astrograss has played the kids’ stage at the world famous South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX, and, since 2007, the band has performed regularly on the family stage at the legendary Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in upstate New York. Other performance highlights include World CafĂ© Live (Philadelphia), Higher Ground (Burlington, VT), and such prestigious NYC venues as Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, and The Brooklyn Academy of Music, in addition to many family friendly venues in NYC, including Joe’s Pub, Washington Market Park, and Madison Square Park. In its “grown-up” format, Astrograss is one of New York’s hottest acoustic acts, touring extensively throughout the Northeast, playing clubs,festivals, theaters, private parties, and weddings.

Previous Astrograss recordings include Let Me Stay Up All Night (2008), Astrograss for Kids (2006 EP), and an album for adults, Astrograss (2005).

What we thought: This CD has been a hit in my house. My son loved it right away, and has been listening to it at bedtime. (He rotates favorites.) This is a good sign. I think it's a fun CD that children will enjoy.

Where to buy: The Colored Pencil Factory CD by Astrograss is available at CDBaby and Amazon.

How to connect: You can learn more about this band on their website And like the on Facebook too.

*Disclaimer: I received this product for review. All opinions are my own.*