Long-time Dan Zanes
musical friend Elena Moon Park has utilized her cultural backgrounds to create a unique hybrid of Asian folk and Western Americana
on her solo debut Rabbit Days and Dumplings
. If you like the earthiness of Zanes' work and are interested in world music for kids, Rabbit Days and Dumplings
will thrill you to no end. And make sure to visit Elena Moon Park's official website
for the bilingual lyrics and full translations of each song.
Korean-American Elena Moon Park was born and raised in east Tennessee
. She began performing as part of kids' music star Dan Zanes' band in the mid-2000's, and was encouraged by Zanes to pursue her idea of a musical melting pot of East Asian
and Western influences. Elena got backing for the project via the crowd funding website Kickstarter
, and the end result was Rabbit Days and Dumplings
, an amalgamation of traditional songs from such places as Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, and Western folk and rock arrangements and instrumentation.
The Music of 'Rabbit Days and Dumplings'
Now, for those who came looking for true to tradition songs from East Asia, you might be surprised by the renditions performed here by Park and band, but you will not be disappointed. Rabbit Days and Dumplings
kicks off with "Sol Nal" a Korean song by Yun Geukyeong and Yun Seokjung, followed by the chugging "Diu Diu Deng," a song from Taiwan that features a great combination of both the banjo
of Dan Zanes and traditional instruments like the Chinese pipa and the Mexican jarana. Park integrates Appalacian
gospel with traditonal Korean melody on the tune "Doraji," as it begins as an a cappella tune that develops into a waltz time, harmony filled, wistful song featuring the vocals of Yoon Sun Choi. "Tum Tum Chuen," originating from southern China, is a cheerful song led by ukulele, mellotron, and lots of woodblock percussion. The song features the vocals of Vicky Chow and John Foti. "Sisi Sima" is an energetic jump rope song from Tibet
, sung playfully here by a teacher and a few of her young students. "Soran Bushi" is a sea shanty from the fishing regions of northern Japan, and encourages lots of singalong accompaniment. A group of young teens from Flushing, Queens
' Korean Traditional Marching Band of New York join in on the joyful Korean tune "Poong Nyun Ga," while the quiet "Akatombo," written by Rofu Miki and Kosaku Yamada, features the vocals of Dan Zanes and Elena Moon Park.
More Music from 'Rabbit Days and Dumplings'
Anyone familiar with Dan Zanes' music
will recognise the swampy vibrato guitar that accompanies the Japanese song "Zui Zui Zukkorobashi," sounding like an amalgamation of East Asia and Middle Eastern musical influences. "Diu Shou Juan" is a Chinese play song, here sounding more like a jaunty New Orleans
street strut. The popular Korean children's song "San Toki," written by Lee Ilrae, has a West African feel, while the melancholy Chinese song "Picking Flowers" is performed by New York City's EastRiver Ensemble
. "Summer is Here" was written by Elena Moon Park herself, and clearly reveals the influence Dan Zanes has had on her melodic and arranging ideas. The Tiawanese song "Ti Oh Oh" is very interestingly performed by The Kronos Quartet and Wu Man (on pipa), and arranged by Jacob Garchik. The slight use of electronics and the pulsating beat of the well-known Japanese children's tune "Anta Gata Doko Sa" will most likely remind listeners of Stereolab
. Rabbit Days and Dumplings
quietly closes with "Tinsagunu Hana," a tune from Okinawa, Japan, accompanied by Sony Ochiai's snakeskin sanshin and thoughtful vocals.
Elena Moon Park's Rabbit Days and Dumplings gives this talented artist a chance to shine on her own after several years of performing in support of kids' music star Dan Zanes. Playing as part of Zanes' band, though, seems to have helped sharpen the vision of Rabbit Days and Dumplings, as the songs fit together well as a single musical entity although they originate from several different East Asian cultures. The album is a great mix of old and new, of traditional and modern, of East and West, making Elena Moon Park's Rabbit Days and Dumplings one of the best kids' music CDs of 2012.
Released September 25, 2012; Festival Five Records
- "Sol Nal (설날 )"
- "Diu Diu Deng (丟丟銅)"
- "Doraji (도라지)"
- "Tum Tum Chuen (氹氹轉)"
- "Sisi Sima (སིམ་སིམ་སི་མ།)"
- "Soran Bushi (ソーラン節)"
- "Poong Nyun Ga (풍년가)"
- "Akatombo (赤とんぼ)"
- "Zui Zui Zukkorobashi (ずいずいずっころばし)"
- "Diu Shou Juan (丢手绢)"
- "San Toki (산토끼)"
- "Picking Flowers (采花)"
- "Summer is Here"
- "Ti Oh Oh (天黑黑)"
- "Anta Gata Doko Sa (あんたがたどこさ)"
- "Tinsagunu Hana (てぃんさぐぬ花)"