Pickin', singin, and floatin' down a river. Ahhh, sounds so relaxing, so bucolic, so...simple. Except that the latest album from the Okee Dokee Brothers is anything but a meandering collection of lazy-day river songs. The Brothers - Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander - turned their "what I did last summer" trip down the Mississippi River into a fun yet compelling 15-song ride-along that includes a accompanying DVD documenting the trip from the river's headwaters in their native Minnesota south to the St. Louis Arch.
Oh, and perhaps it should be mentioned that this is a children's album. Big-budget major-studio albums aimed at an adult demographic should be so ambitious - and this good. It's clear the Brothers spent a season's worth of summer nights next to the campfire cooking up a clever concoction of catchy tunes. Rosita spins the tale of an annoying "skeeta" (apparently the Brothers got to know her and her relatives quite well) doused in a Calypso beat - and likely a bathtub's worth of Calamine lotion too. Mr & Mrs. Sippy is actually a catchy spelling lesson for the word Mississippi and Thousand Star Hotel is an ode to their late-night campsite canvas.
The Brothers deftly weave their riverside tales with keen musicianship that includes Garth Hudson of The Band on accordion, and as the songs roll on, it's easy to lose sight that this is a children's album. But then with a childlike wink, the Brothers deliver a tune like King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O to remind everyone that there's plenty of room in the Brothers' canoe for big kids on this trip too.