Randy Kaplan

Randy Kaplan

 West Bloomfield Township, Michigan, USA
SoloAmericanaChildren's Music

In his songs for children and their families, bluesman and balladeer Randy Kaplan blends American Roots, Country Blues, and Comedic Storytelling. “He doesn’t dumb it down for the kids…He just expects them to come along for the ride. And they do.” (TIME OUT NEW YORK KIDS).


In his shows for children and their families, bluesman and balladeer Randy Kaplan blends American Roots Music, Country Blues, and Comedic Storytelling. 

Entomological tales abound: Southern belle ladybugs, British queen bees, and East Village roaches. Subject matter also includes moral tales about children with their Freudian ids gone wild. There are a lot of tangents and multi-leveled jokes in his story songs. Arlo Guthrie fans like Randy's stuff! 

Randy is from Long Island, New York and lives in Los Angeles with his wife, son, and dog. He has performed in most states of the Union, including, for example, Symphony Space, 92Y Tribeca, The Jewish Museum, The Bottom Line, and The Bitter End in New York; The Getty Museum, Skirball Center, McCabe's Guitar Shop, The Zimmer Museum, and Montalvo Arts Center in California; World Cafe Live in Philadelphia; SiriusXM Headquarters in Washington DC; and a multitude of parks, schools, camps, libraries, hospitals, clubs, and museums throughout the U.S.

Randy's fifth not-JUST-for kids CD, Jam on Rye (2014), features its share of Kaplan trademark fast-talking rap-bluegrass barn burners, a Dan Bern cover, a calypso ode to a shower door, a Tin Pan Alley gem, a couple of lullabies, and the single "Don't Fill Up On Chips," which is already a smash hit on SiriusXM's Kids Place Live.

Randy's fourth not-JUST-for-kids CD, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie (2012), was released by My Kazoo Music and Universal Music. The album consists of "Randyized" versions of classic Country Blues and Ragtime numbers originally performed by the likes of Robert Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, and Blind Blake. PEOPLE magazine placed the CD 3rd on their list of "8 Cool Kids' Albums" of the summer and it took home NAPPA's prestigious Gold Award.

Randy's third not-JUST-for-kids CD, The Kids Are All Id (2010), also won top honors from NAPPA and was voted a Top Five CD in the NICKELODEON Parents' Picks Awards. It appeared on the Top Ten CD lists of, among many others, FIDS & KAMILIES, TIME OUT NEW YORK KIDS, and FAMILY MAN ONLINE (where it was awarded the #1 slot)! The record features masterpieces such as Bob Dylan's "Forever Young," and "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'" (from Porgy & Bess) along with original songs like "The Hebrew-Speaking Bear" and "The Kid Is All Id."

"Loquat Rooftop (2008), Randy’s second family CD, contains its share of golden oldies, such as "Charlie Brown" and "Move It On Over" and original songs like "No Nothing" (the tale of the depraved cat “Nothin'” and the hungry monkey “Kqxhc” (pronounced like a duck's quack) and "The Ladybug Without Spots." Loquat Rooftop was voted one of the Top Ten Children’s CDs of 2008 by NPR (NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO) and COOL MOM PICKS. 

"Five Cent Piece (2006), Randy's first foray into family music, combines a gloriously wacky collection of oldies (and originals)” (NEW YORK magazine). It features all-time classics like "Over the Rainbow" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (a good first mantra for children) as well as original songs like "Shampoo Me" and "Roaches" (they're tryin' on your underwear, checkin' out your grocery list, and readin' your copy of Metamorphosis). 

Randy has also released eight not-REALLY-for-kids CDs, had his poetry published by Ugly Duckling Presse, and collaborated on CLEAVE, a new musical comedy, which was performed to much acclaim at the Boulder International Fringe Festival. After being commissioned to write songs based on Ezra Jack Keats's picture books and for a Disney YA novel, Randy released a picture book of his own (based on the eponymous song from his CD, Loquat Rooftop). He has also conducted songwriting workshops at elementary schools, and won awards and/or been honored by organizations such as NAPPA, NAEYC, and ASCAP.


Jam on Rye

Written By: Randy Kaplan

—When I go out to eat in a restaurant and I look at the menu
and I see written in all capital letters at the bottom: NO SUBSTITUTIONS PLEASE...
well, I think, That's one inflexible chef back there in the kitchen.
You see, I like to substitute certain ingredients for certain other ingredients.
Yup, I'm a first class ingredient substitutionist.
But I'm not an anarchic substitutionist.
I mean, I don't sub out just any ingredient.
The ingredient I pick to replace the original one has to RHYME with it.
You see...

I don't like ham. (he don't like ham).
But I like jam (but he like jam).
I don't like rice (he don't like rice).
But I like ice (but he like ice).

And that's why I eat jam on rye
With my mixed up greens and my ice and beans.

—Yeah, jam is where it's at, man. Fruit butter, curd, spread, or preserves!
And, yes, I insist that my greens are always as mixed up as I am.
—Do you really prefer jams and jellies to hams and pork bellies, Randy?
—I do. Absolutely.

'Cause jam is good ('cause jam is good)
In its jellyhood (in its jellyhood).
Gimme jelly please (give him jelly please).
Gimme jam and cheese (give him jam and cheese).

Yes, marmalade or preserves I'd trade
For the ham I've bade farewell to, babe.
So just to clarify, I do hereby
Insist you try some jam on rye.

—A little Green Eggs and Hamish there, I know.
Well, this is a haimish song. Anyway, Dr. Seuss wouldn't mind.
—You mean Seuss.
—No, Seuss. That's how his name is really pronounced.
He just gave up enforcing it after a while, and went with the crowd.
—Get back to the food, Randy.

If you don't like chips (if you don't like chips)
Then switch to pips (then switch to pips).
Pips are pits or seeds (they're pits or seeds).
Put 'em in your feed (put 'em in your feed).

So go ahead and try some fish and pips
Instead of chips for your salty lips.
Yeah, no one needs permission slips
To swallow seeds of persimmon pits.

—Ogden Nash might not have liked persimmons.
He said as much in a poem. But I sure do.
I also love chips, as you know.
But if you don't appreciate that salty-paper-cuts-on-your-lips feeling then, as I said,
Go ahead and substitute some sweet pips instead.
Hey, guys. Speaking of substitutions, instead of the next verse, let's jam!
—Here we go!

I don't like ham (he don't like ham).
But I love jam (but he love jam).
I don't like rice (he don't like rice).
But I like ice (but he like ice).

And that's why I eat jam on rye
With my mixed up greens and my ice and beans.
Let us versify: Viva jam on rye!
Yeah, I'm a kooky guy and that's why
I eat jam instead of ham!

Hockey Puck

Written By: Randy Kaplan

Baseball, basketball, football, soccer ball,
Handball, racquetball, cricket ball, kick ball
Bowling ball, billiard ball, bocce ball, volleyball,
Golf ball, tennis ball...hockey puck?!

Wiffle ball, newcomb ball, dodge ball, squash ball,
Paddleball, ping-pong ball, polo ball, paint ball,
Jai alai ball, rugby ball, shot put ball, tether ball,
Lacrosse ball, softball...hockey puck?!

—Who do you think you are, Don Rickles?

The hockey puck ain't round, it ain't rolling on the ground
It goes sliding on the ice in a sport of sacrifice
There are teeth to be knocked out, there are things to scream and shout
5 on 3, 4 on 4, there are many ways to score
Slap shot, snap shot, wrist shot, one timer!!!

—Hockey Puck!
—Hoppy Cook!

The blades are really sharp, there are Islanders and Sharks
There are Bruins, there are Kings, there are Blues and Red Wings
There are Maple Leafs and Ducks, other teams, you're out of luck
I'm running out of time, out of room, out of my mind!

Grabner drags his toe as he skates across the blue line,
Taking the feed from Tavares, who wears the same number as the great Butch Goring incidentally.
Fleury out of the crease! Grabner skates into the trapezoid and...
Hat Trick!

Beach ball, skee ball, t-ball, Wii ball,
Stick ball, power ball, croquet ball, cork ball,
Pall Mall ball, wall ball, pinball, pachinko ball,
Foos ball, fuzz ball...hockey puck?!
—Hockey Puck?

So Funny I Forgot to Laugh

Written By: Randy Kaplan

So funny I forgot to laugh
at the joke made by my better half.
So funny I forgot to go like this:
Ha Ha Ha.

So funny I forgot to say
That my better half slept half the day
Away today and I forgot to blow her a kiss:
Mwa Mwa Mwa.

She sent me to the store with a grocery list
But she wanted more so she sent me a text
Sayin': raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, blackberry.
And please make sure that they're not very old.
Like I told ya, check the expiration date.
And take 'em from the back of the shelf 'cause the bait
Is the food in the front that's about to go bad.
It's the worst of its kind. So don't be had!
Oh, and whole grain bread, not multi-grain!
I said, "Babe, your list's well nigh insane.
Stop writing me a tome in a text. I'll be home
In a minute and a half and I'll make you laugh."

So funny I forgot to chuckle
At my butter cup muffin, at my honeysuckle rose
'Cause she knows I don't always seem amused.
Ha Ha Ha.

So funny I forgot to bust
A gut or roll in the aisle like a nut.
When I'm sent to the supermarket I get confused.
Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!

Speaking of nuts, she sent me back to the store
With a brand new text 'cause she still wanted more,
Sayin: almonds, walnuts, and cashews,
Pistachios, pines, macadamias too.
And grab me jar of that jingleberry jam
And a can of the cranberries next to the Spam.
Desitin, diapers, and frozen french toast
And the Tropicana OJ I like most is
No Pulp Calcium with Vitamin D
And Horizon Whole Milk with Omega 3.
I said, "Baby, it's crazy, my cart's overflowing.
I'll be home in a spell. Well, I best get going.

Let's go, gang!
So funny I forgot to bust
A gut or a move or the bank. I trust
In you. I do and I want to go like this:
Ha Ha Ha.

So funny I forgot to split
My sides with a snicker so they'd have to knit
Me back together. Hey, I better blow a kiss:
Mwa Mwa Mwa.

So I'm sent to the supermarket again
And I gotta get calm and I gotta be Zen
But I'm standing in line and I gotta get off,
Says my better half or my third or my fourth
In another, yes, another, yes another text!
So I scramble and I scrabble for what she wants next:
Some eggs to scramble, some stuff for the scrapple,
A squeezie and a McIntosh organic apple.
So I call her for a chuckle and we even guffaw
But still she insists, "We should laugh more!"
I say, "Honey, that's silly, now don't be daft.
I'll be home in a bit and we'll sit and we'll laugh.

So funny I forgot to laugh.
So funny I forgot to laugh.
So funny I forgot to laugh.
So funny—

—I forgot the baby wipes!
And I got the wrong kind of butter...unsalted.
And what does this say? Garbage bags?
She forgot the "b." I thought it said garage bags.
I didn't know what they were.
Sardines? Who'd want them anyway?
At least I got malted milk balls.
And they weren't even on the list!


Family or "not-JUST-for-kids" CDs (& books):

Jam on Rye - 2014

Loquat Rooftop (picture book) - 2013

Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie - 2012

Don't Fill Up On Chips / Nagasaki (mp3s singles) - 2011

The Kids Are All Id - 2010

Loquat Rooftop - 2008

Five Cent Piece - 2006

not-REALLY-for-kids CDs:

Songs For Old Lovers - 2011

Durango (with Brian Schey) - 2008

Ancient Ruins - 2008

Perfect Gentleman - 2004

Miraculous Dissolving Cures - 2001

Lake Champions - 1999

Reborn As Bees - 1999

Boyish Hips - 1997

Set List

Randy's sets range from forty-five minutes to two hours long, depending on the circumstances. He performs original songs and covers ranging from traditional, country, & Delta blues to rock & pop to Broadway & jazz. He usually plays solo but is sometimes joined by guest musicians.