Cranberry Sauce Flotilla

cover of Cranberry Sauce Flotilla

released 2003

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This CD topped the 12 Kids' Albums You Can't Live Without list in the July 2007 issue of the School Library Journal.

"Mandolins and fiddles, a big booming upright bass, guitars and banjos, trombones and tubas, a barrelhouse piano, stacks of harmonies...In fact, throughout the whole CD you get the feeling that you've come across a New Orleans parlor band playing a kids' birthday party on a riverboat chugging up the Mississippi River. Except better."
- Warren Truitt, Head Children's Librarian, New York City Public Library, at his blog

Cranberry Sauce Flotilla finds Dog on Fleas back in their living room in upstate New York, playing live with acoustic instruments, and playing a variety of old, old songs, and a few new. This is the first CD on which the Fleas have done so many tradition songs and covers by such writers as Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer, Woody Guthrie, and Walter Donaldson. But they've made these songs their own with original arrangements, new words, and that certain je ne sais fleas. John Hughes has contributed a guaranteed new classic song, "Happy" that you will not be able to get out of your head. The album contains seven originals, seven traditional songs, and six covers totalling 20 great songs for kids and others.

Back when they recorded Hoi Polloi the band did a few songs live outside of the studio and they had such a good time they decided to do a whole album like that. The piano in Dean's living room is the glue that holds this CD together. Add to that upright bass, mandolin, guitars, ukeleles, banjo, tuba, trombone, saxophone, flute, fiddle, kazoos, cardboard boxes and drums, not to mention tons of great singing. Dean, David and John all sing a handful of songs in their own distinctive styles. And new to the band is Debbie Lan who plays the piano and sings some beautiful tunes (and a pretty silly one). Although there are a couple of studio tracks, most of the songs on this CD are live takes, and we guarantee it's either Take 1,2,3 or 4.

On a couple of songs Dog on Fleas is augmented by some of the band's kids and neighbors, singing some very spirited choruses. "Fiddle-i-fee" is a very old, pre-Old MacDonald farm song, with a few Dog on Fleas twists. And the song "Twistification" has so many singers and players we were lucky the house didn't collapse!!! The title cut may have your kids inventing new code words and hiding behind the couch. And then, thankfully, the wind-down of the final original song, David Levine's "Little Bird", sung by Debbie, will calm the wild things down.

The Fleas have done it again, combining the winning combo of sincerity, originality, variety and real musicianship with less microphones than ever, less studio tricks and even more feeling.