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Music Review: 'Can You Canoe'

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

For many kids, summer means no homework, playing outdoors and, of course, traveling. Our children's music reviewer, Stefan Shepherd, tells us about a new album inspired by a trip down America's original interstate highway.

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STEFAN SHEPHERD, BYLINE: Minnesota songwriters Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander have been best friends since childhood. They make music now as The Okee Dokee Brothers and spent a month canoeing down the Mississippi River last year from its headwaters in Minnesota to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CAN YOU CANOE?")

SHEPHERD: The result of that journey is the adventuresome new album "Can You Canoe?" on which the band blends original songs like the title track with invigorating renditions of traditional river songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CAN YOU CANOE?")

SHEPHERD: The album focuses primarily on exploring the outdoors with songs about mosquitoes and bullfrogs. Tom Sawyer gets a mention too. But even silly tracks like "Campin' Tent" offer up some subtler notions for the kids paying attention.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CAMPIN' TENT")

SHEPHERD: Rivers have long served as metaphorical canvases. There are few American canvases bigger than the mighty Mississippi, and The Okee Dokee Brothers use all that space to cover themes both trivial and profound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAUL AWAY JOE")

SHEPHERD: When the band and their friends join together on a joyful "Haul Away Joe," they remind us of the American belief that we're bound for better weather. Their album celebrates everyday explorers - young and old - who rediscover that notion daily.

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CORNISH: Stefan Shepherd writes about kids' music at zooglobble.com. He reviewed the album "Can You Canoe?" by The Okee Dokee Brothers.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAUL AWAY JOE")

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