There’s something in the water in Austin, Texas, and British Columbia, Canada. And it’s something good – nothing like what’s poisoning people in Flint, Michigan. Much like Austin’s Jarebear has rediscovered and reconnected with their inner ’70s starchild, Canada’s The Oot n’ Oots is partying like it’s 1969 on their second CD, Electric Jellyfish Boogaloo.
The throwback feel is only part of the appeal, as The Oot n’Oots are a family deal. Eleven-year-old singer Ruth Cipes joins her father (Ezra) and uncles Ari, Gabe, and Matthew. They’re like Hansen with extra parts, if one of those parts was a “funny uncle.” That’s sometimes funny ha-ha but also sometimes funny strange, as on “I Like It Saucy.”
Kids’ bands are generally about dancing, having fun, and teachable moments. I can honestly report that I learned perhaps not one thing from Electric Jellyfish Boogaloo and my life is just fine, thanks for asking. “Tomato Jungle” is maybe about gardening but also hide-and-seek. “Where the Purple Geese Fly” slows down Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” with a series of progressively ridiculously-colored birds.
Ari takes the helm for tunes like “Dust Pan,” singing about the importance of being neat and clean around the house, and the hyperbolic “Yam Fries,” overselling the pleasures and value of sweet potatoes:
You know they’re packed with betacarotene
Vitamin A to make you feel keen
They keep digestion regular and right
They put your tummy in the limelight
The Oot n’ Oots may be Canadian, but their mission statement is pure sunny San Francisco 1969 – talkin’ about “Look at Those Bees” (sung by Ezra) and “Fermented Foods.” In place of free love, there’s “Pure Love,” closing the CD with Ezra voicing a simple truth about what really matters in life – “We’re all that’s real/We become each other/We become nothing/Pure love.” If not for the presence of songs for younger audiences, such as “Little Sammy Davis” and “Animal Sounds,” one could mistake Electric Jellyfish Boogaloo as a side project from Blues Traveler or the Spin Doctors… genial, quirky, reassuring, border-crossing but not boundary-crossing children’s music.
Here is the video for “Dust Pan”: