Received 4 stars from Downbeat Magazine in the April 2005 edition: 'Finding children's music albums for the preschool to 6th grade set is easy as ABC. The challenge comes figuring out what releases have the stuff to please children and young-at-heart grownups. On Ben Rudnick's Blast Off!, the words catchy and irrepressible just begin to describe the string-band music uncorked by a quintet of gifted instrumentalists whose idea of a rollicking good time runs from 'Martian Hoedown' through 'Juicy Black Fly' to 'Dads Can Dance.' Rudnick's active musical imagination is central to his charm, his music having a country rock base with bluegrass, polka, Tex-Mex, jazz, blues or folk colorants. His lead singing is more than adequate to his zany, smart tunes.' - Frank-John Hadley, Downbeat Magazine - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Recommended by the Parents' Choice Organization in November of 2004. Received a NAPPA Honors Award in October 2004. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Dec. 7, 2004 - 'Blast Off!' was chosen as one of the Top 5 choices for children's/family releases of 2004: Rudnick's songs are clever and appealing, making the most of kids' imaginations. There are songs about playing with balloons with aliens, dancing with Martians and dancing with dads. The collection includes peppy updates of old favorites 'M.T.A.,' 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' and 'The Fox.' Ben Rudnick and Friends may well be on their way to becoming the Grateful Dead of the tot scene. The act plays several live shows a year on the East Coast. Rudnick is hoping to take the act farther afield soon. Our songs 'are people songs. We aren't talking down to kids,' he said, adding that, in live shows, 'we don't make nice because we're playing for kids with families. We play hard.' And, Rudnick said, 'we're having a ball playing that stuff.' - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - THE FUN IS CONTAGIOUS on Ben Rudnick & Friends latest recording, Blast Off! Whether hanging out in your family room or hitting the road, you and your family will soar the skies in a rocket ship, meet new alien buddies and ponder that eternal question: 'Why DID the chicken cross the road??!' Continuing in the tradition of their award winning CDs, Emily Songs and Fun and Games, Blast Off! Goes where no family record has gone before, giving you music you'll be happy to listen to, even after the millionth playing on that long ride to the relatives. The band continues to mix originals with classics done a whole new way, all on a foundation of adventurous musicianship and a healthy sense of humor, a formula that succeeds every time. Blast Off! Is acoustic music featuring guitar, mandolin, accordion, sax (Don Davis of the Microscopic Septet - highlighted on the theme music for WHYY's 'Fresh Air with Terry Gross'), harmonica (Jeff Bird of the Cowboy Junkies) and an endless array of percussion. Smoothly slipping in and out of musical genres from bluegrass to swing, rock and folk to jazz Blast Off! ^#^will find a spot in your CD player and stay there like favorite records of old. Blast Off! ^#^will make your family feel like you've done just that: rocketing on a musical adventure that'll have you laughing, dancing, and asking for a replay. About the Artist Multiple award winners in family music, Ben Rudnick & Friends was born out of the recording Emily Songs, originally a knock-off project for Ben's daughter's birthday party. With their next release Fun and Games, the band further defined their adventurous, high-energy blend of happy, upbeat acoustic music. Mixing original songs and well-known traditional material, both recordings have won the coveted Parents' Choice Award. Other kudos includes a John Lennon Songwriting Award and Children's Music Web Awards. Playing a wide range of venues, from town festivals and theaters to large public concerts, the band comprises Ben Rudnick (guitar), John Zevos (mandolin), Arnie Ashford (bass), Mark Yacovone (accordion) and Jared Steer (percussion). Smoothly slipping in and out of musical genres from bluegrass to swing, rock and folk to jazz, Ben Rudnick and Friends are guaranteed to entertain young and old alike. The fun is contagious!