Ronnie McCoury foray into bluegrass music aimed at smart kids and playful adults emphasizes the homegrown approach. Not only do the tracks sound recorded "live" in the studio, they showcase his whole family unit. It's all designed to make the little listener comfortable with songs new, old and timeless ("The Big Rock Candy Mountain").
A different youngster introduces each track, sometimes with a groaner of a joke, and McCoury acts as something of a headliner and host. He'll do whatever it takes to keep the good times rolling, such as leading a cherubic choir with direction ("let's try it faster!) or playing a sharp acoustic run on the original "My Friend My Guitar."
There's potential for a parent's threshold for precociousness to be crossed when the kids join in the performing. Ronnie could have saved some of these songs for the McCoury family reunion. But when it comes to introducing your own child to the sound of the mandolin, there are few working artists with a better pedigree. And with such a healthy helping of 16 tunes, including some terrific takes on train music ("Monkey and the Engineer" and "I've Been Working On the Railroad"), it's ultimately a lighthearted romp for all ages.