Being a dad blogger means I get to know about a lot of rad dads doing rad things in the honeymoon glow of fatherhood. There’s my pal Sean Singleton’s Pop Lyfe Shop , the wonderful City Dads Groups all across the country, and Broadway actor-turned-dad-turned-entrepreneur Gavin Lodge’s high end diaper bags for handsome dudes sold in Barney’s of New York!
But there’s a collection of rad dads I’ve known for even longer. These guys are the dads who rock (and rap) for families seeking awesome all-ages alternative music.
Sharing music you love with your kid is stellar but sharing music that your kid will have a context for lyrically is even more so. Nowadays, doing the latter sounds as sweet as the former, because modern all-ages music is amazing thanks in part to these gents listed below.
Ahead of this Father’s Day, let’s meet some of these guys, these dads who have been rocking out and rapping for me and my kids for over a decade, providing this sometimes-pompous, always discerning music nerd with incredible albums and songs and live concerts for my daughters and I to experience and share in together.
Jason Rabinowitz of The Pop Ups
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
The king of kid-hop is a boundary-pushing legend of all-ages alternative music who won the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album. Originally calling Asheville, NC home, this MC would infuse his positive hip-hop with bluegrass flair in the early days and now injects some trippy psychedelia inspired by his NoCal residence of the last half decade. All the while, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo keeps rocking and rapping alongside his incredible daughter Saki. He also penned one of the great tearjerker dad songs ever in “Time Machine” (on the playlist below). This summer Amazon will release Wake Up The Dream, a new all-ages Amazon Originals 23 Skidoo album themed around the weird world of your dreams featuring retro stylings, soul divas, heavy beats and high energy funk. The concept of the album is the “Midnight Special” radio show on WREM, a nocturnal broadcast that spins your dreams instead of songs, hosted by DJs “Sub-C” and “Uncle Unc” aka your subconscious and your unconscious.
As the ringleader and namesake of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, this sweet San Francisco Giants superfan who calls Los Angeles home has been making sun-kissed all-ages rock for what seems like ten years now! In that time, his own family has grown to include bandmate, wife, and miraculous human, Alisha Gaddis, and a 2nd adorable daughter. Oh, they also won a Latin Grammy Award. No big deal.
Bigger family, bigger band, bigger things (annual tours in China!), and still making incredible pop-rock music for families. Lucky Diaz is a gem of a dad and dude.
The master of voices and stories spun into song, Randy Kaplan is not only one of the smartest human beings I’ve ever met in person but he’s also a charming guy, gifted songwriter and a proud papa. His dad life can be heard loud and clear on his newest album, Trippin’ Round the Mitten.
Andy Furgeson aka Red Yarn
Red Yarn is what it sounds like when the spirit of old time Americana folk mingles with the fiercely organic indie punk vibe of the Pacific Northwest. This foot stomping ginger dad seems to always be sporting a big wide genuine smile and that comes through in his music and also, I’m presuming, in his parenting. Bonus: catch Red Yarn live at my 3rd and final 2018 Kidchella concert in Philadelphia in August!
Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold
This is the guy who changed my family life forever! Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold wasn’t a dad yet when my young family saw him perform live and got introduced to the burgeoning world of all-ages alternative, or ‘kindie’ rock, 11 or 12 years ago but he’s got 2 boys now and it has been as fun watching him evolve as a dad as it has hearing his hilariously introspective soft rock blossom during that same time period. Morgan Taylor’s Gustafer Yellowgold is a Mount Rushmore kid’s music act that if you don’t know, you should know.
This former From Good Homes bass player and current member of Laurie Berkner’s live band, is the happiest guy in the world and with good reason. He’s got a lovely bride and two fabulous kids, a killer band, and a ton of terrific classic American rock-n-roll records to his name. Brady Rymer’s two kids are practically all grown up now but this cheery Long Island fella is still making music that matters for all-ages of listeners!
Mista Cookie Jar
In recent years, he’s become THE guy to have guest on your songs to take them from good to SO GREAT but this warm, kind, wonderful stepdad is a true visionary artist in his own right. Mista Cookie Jar still releases singles that remind us how singularly talented he is. MCJ is also responsible for the GREATEST CHRISTMAS SONG EVER. Google it, “Robot 4 Xmas”!!!
Chris “Boom” Wiser of The Sugar Free Allstars
With a cool flat cap, bow tie, a new rad beard, his MOOG keyboard, and two dashing young men under his wing, this rock-n-roll dad has it all. Hailing from OKC, Chris “Boom” Wiser of the Sugar Free Allstars makes some of the funkiest and funniest rock for families. You and your kids are only ever one click away from your very own personal Disco Dance Party thanks to this dad who rocks.
He’s raised two marvelous children and made a handful of marvelously wonderful albums for families, including the song “I Think I’m A Bunny” that you probably still know and love if you spent anytime at all listening to Kids Place Live from roughly 2012-2014.
Jack, Drew and Korum of Recess Monkey
Another Mount Rushmore of kindie rock, all three of the fellas of Recess Monkey are dads who rock. This Seattle trio has been making brilliant pop-rock for families for like a gazillion years or at least it seems that way because for the majority of their tenure as kid’s rock icons they released at least one album every single year, meaning their back catalog is deeper than The Beatles.
Danny, Tom and Michael of The Not-Its!
Always clad in hot pink and jet black, there are no dads who rock harder, better, and more beautifully than Danny, Tom and Michael of the mightiest kid’s band to have ever played a concert. The Not-Its! are still, without a doubt, hands-down, end of discussion, the great live rock band for kids that has ever existed and I dare say will ever exist. If I could make it work financially, I would fly them across the country from Seattle to Philly to play my Kidchella concert series every single year. Not only do they rock on stage, they rock at home and in their Kia Sedona minivans too as dads to a gaggle of fantastic kids.
I could have kept going with this list because there are many other rad dads who rock out for families. The important takeaway here is that THERE IS NO REASON TO LISTEN TO TERRIBLE MUSIC WITH YOUR KIDS. The days of kid’s music being crap have been over for a long time. Dig into the Golden Age of Family Music, starting with this Dads Who Rock Spotify playlist and then move on to my podcast, the OWTK Kid’s Music Monthly which delivers 10 songs representing the best and brightest of modern family music each month.