Randy Kaplan rocks Southpaw

for The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

If there is a more challenging artist working the seamy birthday party and Park Slope Parents hootenanny circuit than Randy Kaplan, I have not met his acquaintance.

Kaplan’s great gift for kid-centric blues-rock was on display yet again at Park Slope’s Southpaw during a happy hour gig on Sunday afternoon (it was happy hour for the adults; the target audience limited itself to sippy cups and juiceboxes).

I found myself, as always, unable to adequately praise Kaplan, who, in just a few years, he has established himself as the premiere act on the circuit.

Where other saccharine-set stars sing about space ships and moon-shaped pizzas, Kaplan plumbs the truth of today’s childhood experience. He sings of roaches scurrying behind your walls. He sings of mosquitoes. He sings of having the blues (albeit for grape juice).

Kaplan is a modern-day Leadbelly crossed with just enough Laurie Berkner to maintain the childish merriment.

Indeed, one of his biggest sing-along numbers is his pre-teen version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” In Kaplan’s version, the “want” is no Jagger-esque masculine longing, but a just-as-passionate wish for pancakes and Halloween candy. The kids in the audience must relate, because the number never fails to inspire the 6-year-olds to sing along. If you can get 50 6-year-olds to sing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” the treats they crave, you know you’re hitting kids where they live.

Kaplan may never become a kids music ambassador like the lovable Dan Zanes. And he won’t sell records like the Wiggles. But his is the true voice of discord and subversion.

Where other singers pull out “This Land is Your Land,” Kaplan is more likely to sing about a shark slithering up though the sewer system and demanding, “Shampoo me!”

Where other songwriters limit their lyrics to circuses or taxi rides, Kaplan has a new song in which he bemoans an unruly cat because its claws are to close to a “Chagall lithograph I inherited from my grandma.”

We all know such animals, but only Randy Kaplan writes about them.

Updated 5:24 pm, December 11, 2008
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: