CD/Book Review: My Name Is Chicken Joe, by Brad Moon


When National Public Radio refers to you as ‘the Lennon and McCartney of kids’ music,’ you’ve got a lot to live up to.  Four time Grammy-nominated duo Trout Fishing in America  (Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet) rise to the challenge as the featured performers on My Name is Chicken Joe, the latest kids’ book/CD combo release by Canadian publisher, The Secret Mountain.

My Name is Chicken Joe tells the story of a cat named Chicken Joe, through the lyrics of Trout Fishing in America and the illustrations of Stéphane Jorisch.  It’s an entertaining story set to catchy music I’d describe as a folk/pop/country hybrid.  The final third of the hardcover book contains single-page illustrations with the lyrics to each of the remaining 10 songs, featuring titles like ‘My Best Day,’ ‘I Can Dance’ and, offering the obligatory reference to eating boogers that’s guaranteed to get kids rolling around and laughing, ‘Boiled Okra and Spinach.’  The target age for the storybook is definitely the early reader, or a child being read to, but the inclusion of lyrics to all the songs raises the appeal for more advanced readers.  Like the best kids’ music, Trout Fishing in America’s songs manage to appeal lyrically to children without being condescending, while offering enough variety and musical prowess to maintain the interest of adults.  The song are catchy and diverse enough in style to keep parents’ fingers away from the CD player’s eject button on a road trip for the 33 minute duration of the disc.

My Name Is Chicken Joe is the latest in a series of popular Book/CD releases from The Secret Mountain.  Previous titles included Down at the Sea Hotel, which featured roots music artists such as John Gorka, Eliza Gilkyson and Guy Davis performing songs by Neil Young, Don Henley, Tom Waits and Billy Joel.

The official release date for My Name is Chicken Joe is April 21, but if you happen to be in the Philadelphia area on Friday (April 18th), Trout Fishing in America will be performing at an early CD release event as part of Philadelphia’s Free Library Festival.  I’ve never had the opportunity to see these guys perform, but from what I hear, it’s a pretty entertaining show and the clips I’ve seen on YouTube tend to support this.