The Hudson Valley’s Uncle Rock (aka Chronogram’s Robert Burke Warren) stands among the few artists whose music speaks to kids, not at them. His third CD, Uncle Rock U., mines folk, funk, and rootsrock for 17 upbeat, flat-out fun tunes that celebrate polar bears, fire engines, grumpy neighbors, and more. There’s ample reason for Uncle Rock’s startling range: In addition to having been a preschool teacher’s assistant, Warren was bassist for The Fleshtones, a legendary New York garage band. As evidenced by the children singing along on this CD, Uncle Rock (and his agile backup band) knows how to get a kid’s party revved up—without the condescension that often mars this genre, and minus any cynical asides inserted for restless adults.
Uncle Rock’s deceptively simple compositions invite comparison to the work of old-time troubadours like Woody Guthrie. Without finger-wagging, he manages to quietly slip in some good-sense messages about self-esteem (“Captain Courage Theme”), animal conservation (“It’s a Bat!”), and buying organically and locally (“There’s Love in My Food”). And I double-dog dare you to stand still when he strums the awesome “ Superhero Medley.” www.unclerock.com.