Shake It and Break It

Ages: 4 - 12Producer: Yellow Thing Records & Books Artist: Randy Kaplan


Singer/guitarist/songwriter Randy Kaplan, takes classic blues songs whose subject matters include sex, drugs, pimps, dealers and prison time, rewrites the lyrics as family friendly, while still retaining the melody and style of the music. Kaplan’s reworking of the Mississippi John Hurt classic “Candy Man” becomes a song about good dental hygiene. Charlie Patton’s famous and sultry “Shake It and Break It” transforms Patton’s reference to “jelly roll” into a kind of donut. Tampa Red’s “Sitting’ On Top of the World” becomes a song about empathy in the playground, and Blind Blake’s “Doing a Stretch,” slang for time in prison, becomes a song about exercising. Elsewhere, Kaplan uses Blind Blake’s “Chicken Chump Blues,” as the basis for an autobiographical story/song about not wanting to jump in a cold lake at summer camp. Only the ragtime “Swinging on a Star’” is played as written, albeit interspersed with silly animal sounds. Kaplan, an accomplished blues guitarist in the vein of David Bromberg or Stefan Grossman delivers all in a pleasant, friendly and engagingly conversational voice.

This ambitious, clever, and possibly controversial recording will delight non-blues purists and have families repeatedly marveling at his clever interpretations of these classic tunes.

Lahri Bond ©2019 Parents’ Choice

Lahri Bond is a father, a writer, music historian and an art professor in Western Massachusetts. His published books include Spinning Tales Weaving Hope (with the Stories For World Change Network) for New Society Press and People of the Earth (coauthored with Ellen Evert Hopman) for Destiny Books.

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