Edelstein

Starksboro multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Raphael Groten has directed his many musical talents to an album of children’s music that adults will find entertaining as well. Groten, who goes by “G’Raph” for this 13-track, 52-minute album, “Happily Ever Now,” says in his promotional material that this CD is “dedicated to the cultivation of kindness, joy, love, living in the present moment, and the art of having fun NOW!” He might also say that children’s music need not be simplified to the point of idiocy, nor be musically banal and genre neutral.

We first encountered Groten in 2015 with his solo guitar album, “Journey Home.” In our review of this new age music, we wrote: “One of the new crop of guitarists recording this meditative and passionate music is Vermonter Raphael Groten. On his first album ‘Journey Home’ we hear a finger-style guitarist who plays with conviction and abundant technique while exploring the varied sounds of the acoustic guitar.”

In 2019 he released “Star Lullaby,” which continued his exploration of the use of solo guitar for meditative and healing purposes. We wrote that the 14 tracks in this collection “are meant as a way to convey feelings through sound. His melodies are not particularly complicated, nor does he overwhelm with guitar gymnastics. What we hear in these compositions is a lot of space and the warmth of his instrument.”

With “Happily Ever Now” Groten unleashes a variety of instruments, musical genres and educational concepts that breathe life and interest into this form of entertainment. Here Groten performs in styles that range from folk, blues, soul, and rock, to funk, reggae/ska, country, and world music. He uses a sonic palette that includes plates, silverware, and toaster, along with steel string guitar, cavaquinho, kalimba, bass, djembe, cowbell, shaker, cajón, bells, gong, triangle, zinger toy, and vocal hi-hat when the song’s ideas call for more than simple guitar, drums and bass. Some of the songs include the voices of children who apparently are having the time of their young lives singing on the album.

Producing a children’s album can be a daunting challenge. Are the ideas understandable to children? Are they sophisticated enough to get the meaning of the words? Will the songs them and entertain at the same time? Will there be enough entertainment value so their parents are able to sit through the songs with their child?

According to Groten, at the root of his longstanding vision and two decades as a music educator, echoes the question: “Why wait for the ultimate line of the story, ‘happily ever after,’ to get happy?’ The time to come alive is now.’ Happily Ever Now’ is a musical anthology of the moment, with songs of health, humility, and adventure, along with a grand dose of downright silliness.”

Song titles include: “Hands in the Water,” “I Can Eat a Rainbow,” “Happily Ever Now”; a personal favorite, “Don’t Pick Your Nose”; and perhaps the best tune on the album the bluesy “Baby Blues,” along with eight other tracks.

Groten has extensive experience with sound healing and has shared his love of music with children for more than a decade. For the past two decades he has worked in schools and libraries with children ranging from infants to eighth graders. He says he’s been inspired by observing the growth of his own boys and by his training in the work of Maria Montessori. He’s been composing music for children and families since 2004. This first family music release, “Happily Ever Now,” he says, “is a testament to his dedication to consciousness and fun.” We agree.

”Happily Ever Now” is available at www.raphaelgroten.com, iTunes, Amazon, Apple Music, and wherever music is sold online.

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