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Farmer Jason

Nature Jams – 2012 (UME)

Reviewed by Michael Berick

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CDs by Farmer Jason

Farmer Jason is the kids music alter ego for cowpunk pioneer Jason Ringenberg. Making kids music liberates Jason from country rock territory and draws Celtic, funk and even some theatrical elements into his tunes. While rather eclectic musically, the album is tied together with the nature theme to the songs, but also with Farmer Jason's goofy sense of humor. Jason introduces each song with some jokey repartee with the various guests who appear on each track.

While most of the tunes will amuse the youngsters, several stand out for listeners of all ages. Take A Hike, Jason's collaboration with R.E.M.'s Mike Mills, moves to a memorable rock groove, while the Saw Doctors help to make Oh Well Whales into a rousing rocker. The Western-flavored Prairie Riddles nicely shifts Iris Dement out of her signature spare folky sound. Two other quieter tunes number among the stronger tracks: Meadowlark in Central Park is a gently, lovely duet with Suzy Bogguss, and Brandi Carlile shines on Have You Ever. Webb Wilder, meanwhile, recites a hilarious spoken word piece Buffalo Or Bison. Funny too is Todd Snider, although in more of a gonzo stoner way, on The Moose Lives Where?

Moose also features Norwegian crime writer/musician Jo Nesbo, who is part of the disc's impressive and eclectic guest list. Terrance Simien brings New Orleans rhythm to Bayou Boogie, while Hank III and Tommy Ramone make for something of an odd couple on Manatee. Cheap Trick's Tom Petersson, Alison Brown and Victor Wooten also are among those giving Farmer Jason a hand.

While those without kids probably will find Farmer Jason a bit too corny at time, those with kids will appreciate how he transplants the energy he brought to the Scorchers into the family music realm.