Josh Hankemeier - Well Muppet fans, the holidays are long over, and we're still in the middle of the "winter blahs." It's still cold enough out there to freeze your Winnebago, but the days seem to drag on with overcast skies even duller and grayer than Bert's oatmeal. Muppets Most Wanted isn't here yet, and it's way too late to watch any Muppet Christmas specials. So, what are Muppet fans supposed to do to add joy to these cold, dreary days? The answer is simple: "Spunkinsass" and "Wake Up Your Weird," courtesy of Leslie Carrara-Rudolph!
As many Muppet fans know, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph is probably best known as the woman behind Abby Cadabby, Sesame Street's resident fairy-in-training. Leslie was also interviewed on The Muppet Mindset in a three part interview (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).
Besides Abby, there is another character just as dear to Leslie's heart. This character has never appeared on Sesame Street (mostly due to her restraining order). She's five years old, she loves candy, expeditions to Cracker Barrel Country Stores and she believes in celebrating joy through creativity and individuality. Her name is Lolly Lardpop, the star of Leslie's theatre show "Wake Up Your Weird", the CD of the same name, and the CD "Spunkinsass". Both albums are available at CD Baby. "Spunkinsass," currently, is only available as a download, but the physical CD may come back in print. "Wake Up Your Weird" is available in both CD and in download form. I have them in my collection and they make great companion pieces to Jerry Nelson's "Truro Daydreams".
"Spunkinsass" stars Lolly, Leslie, and a plethora of Leslie's original characters. Here are some of the characters you will meet on this album:
Granny Dot: a feisty, vibrant, active 99 year old who enjoys aqua aerobics. Granny Dot is one of those "cool" senior citizens, not unlike Fozzie's mom or the grandma from "A Garfield Christmas."
Madame Velveeetaaaa: an eccentric gypsy who describes herself as "Very psychedelic, very psychotic, very flamboyant, very flatulent."
Gordon: Not to be confused with the Gordon we know on Sesame Street. Gordon is Lolly's pet Sasquatch.
Armond: Lolly's pesky next door neighbor, who tries to sneak his way onto Lolly's CD.
Guest stars on "Spunkinsass" include musician Grant Baciocco, who makes a couple of appearances to play some folk songs. Singer Irene Soderberg also performs a duet with Lolly. Paul Rudolph, Sesame Street's Vocal Music Director (and Leslie's husband), also produced this album. He also mixed and mastered the music on "Wake Up Your Weird." Paul Rudolph also directed Jerry Nelson's CD "Truro Daydreams."
1. Pure Imagination
Yes, this is the classic song from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. We get to hear this track sung by Leslie herself. We are also introduced to Lolly, who is having a problem with her neighbor, Armond.
2. Lolly Theme
Lolly introduces herself to the audience and with the help of close harmony backup singers (The Perry Combovers), explains what she is all about. (Paul Rudolph's talents especially shine in the Perry Combover numbers).
3. Coupon Diaria
Throughout the CD, we hear Lolly's thoughts written down in her diary (which Lolly refers to as a "diaria"). In this snippet, we learn a little bit about Lolly and her relationship with her Granny Dot. Lolly, like any good narrator, engages the listener and can get him or her to imagine one of Lolly and Granny's favorite activities.
The title track defines what the word "Spunkinsass" means in this bouncy tune. The Perry Combovers provide backup (and adapt to the different ways Lolly performs the song).
5. Spy Diaria
This entry in Lolly's "diaria" explains Armond doing what he does best... being a pest!
6. Candy Man (w/ Irene Soderberg)
Warning: you will get hungry listening to this track. Irene and Lolly perform a fun, simple cover of the classic song with piano accompaniment.
7. Hug Your Sasquatch (w/ Gordon)
Lolly introduces the audience to her pet Sasquatch, Gordon. Gordon is shy, (being a Sasquatch, he is worried about being seen by the audience). After assuring Gordon that no one can see him, we learn, along with Lolly, what happens when "If You're Happy and You Know it" is played with an overly energetic, 8 foot tall, 500 pound creature.
8. Bessie The Heifer (w/ Grant Baciocco)
Did you know that it's a requirement on a kid's CD to have a folk song? According to Lolly, it is. Her friend Grant has a similar problem. His CD is required to have a song about cows on it. The two of them cooperate by singing "Bessie the Heifer". (Visitors to The Adventurers Club at Walt Disney World might be familiar with this novelty song). Lolly provides some unique (and hilarious) percussion.
9. Cup of Sugar (dialogue)
This track serves mainly as an introduction to the next song. Granny Dot is out of sugar, so she sends Lolly to borrow some from their eccentric friend, Madame Velveeetaaaa.
10. Monster Muffins
Show of hands...who likes the Swedish Chef? Everyone. Good. Well, chances are you will also like Madame Velveeetaaaa. This track shows off her cooking skills. The spooky, yet silly recipe she is preparing for her monster friends encourages Lolly (and the audience) to add disgusting ingredients. If you have kids or know someone with kids, keep this track handy for next Halloween!
11. Thankful Diaria (dialogue)
This is an introspective moment where Lolly counts her blessings.
Lolly is sad that her best friend Sofy is moving away. Leslie encourages her that even though friends do move away, there is a way to keep them close in one's heart. "Believe" is a song of trust and faith, and of course, believing that things will work out in the end.
13. Sunny Side Of The Street
"Grab your coat, grab your hat. Leave your worries on the doorstep...", Lolly performs her own cover of this jazz standard from 1930.
14. Meat Cookies
Granny Dot whips up a batch of Lolly's favorite dessert treats... Meat Cookies! (Cookies that look like meat.) Hey, if potato pancakes can exist, why not meat cookies?
15. Armond's Tinkle
Much to Lolly's dismay, Armond sings on the CD. If that wasn't bad enough, Armond messed up the song he was supposed to sing...
16. Lolly Is Her Name (w/ Grant Baciocco)
Grant returns with an energetic folk song all about Lolly.
17. Sofy & Leslie
Sofy and Leslie finish the CD with an encore of "On the Sunny Side of the Street".
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org