A little while ago, I received an email from a representative of Sugar Mountain PR asking me if I wanted to receive free compact discs of children's music for possible review. I thought about the various discussions about the ethics of bloggers receiving gifts for book reviews, and made sure that I wasn't obligated to review any cds I received. I decided that as long as I always made it absolutely clear that I had received the media materials free from outside sources, there shouldn't be any conflicts of interest.
The representative who wrote to me noted that I was an Ella Jenkins fan, and sent me a free DVD copy of the cELLAbration! Ella Jenkins tribute concert performed at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, Maryland and organized by Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. In the interest of being completely upfront with all of you, I also received some flyers plus a red harmonica put out by the Smithsonian Folksways Recordings with "Ella Jenkins" stamped on the top.
Lucia and I had listened to the cELLAbration! CD already, and especially enjoyed Sweet Honey in the Rock's rendition of "Did You Feed My Cow?" and Red Grammer's "Jambo." At 60 minutes plus special features, the DVD was a bit longer and more sprawling than the CD. At times, I was distracted by the fringed vests and silly hats of some of the performers. The Mariachi Los Camperos were just fine-- it was Riders in the Sky and Cathy & Marcy who were a bit overdressed for my taste. It was fun to see the non-verbal exchanges among the performers and Bill Harley's visually humorous introduction to Pete Seeger. The guest appearance of Ella Jenkins* herself was a pleasant surprise. However, the sudden appearance of the Hadrosaur from Hackensack (featured in a bonus track) in the finale was disconcerting and eerily evocative of Barney the Purple Dinosaur. I don't know about you, but no one in the House of Glee has ever been a fan of oversized puppets and costumes. (My family would not do well at Disneyland.)
The cELLAbration! DVD is scheduled for release on October 23, 2007. If you can get your hands on a copy, I'd recommend watching it in two shifts, with a break between Ella Jenkins' "I Know A City Called Okeechobee" and Bill Harley's "Milky Way."
*Follow the link to see the streaming video clip.