The Oot’n Oots do not see themselves primarily as children’s musicians. Pride of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, the Cipes are a literal family band (a group of brothers and a daughter / niece) producing songs reminiscent of the sweet and whimsical soft rock released by Donovan and the early Syd Barrett Pink Floyd era. Their latest collection, The Bunchgrass Ponderosa and the golden rule contains a dozen tracks that embrace concepts we should all know, while forgetting to practice most of the time.
The Oots are interested in big deep thoughts and approach them with powerful choruses and ballads. “Ponderosa Bunchgrass” opens Part 2 (it’s the second side of the vinyl version of the collection) with a girl who has walked her own path. Think of Malala Yousafzai or Greta Thunberg. The lead singer of the Oots is Ruthie Cipes, who delivers a strong voice on tracks like “Thank You, Universe” and the spaghetti western theme, “Once Upon A Dream”.
There’s a big serving of Donovan (with a dash of Buffalo Springfield) on “The Bird and the Monkey and Me”. A mariachi band transforms “Teeny Tiny Horsey” from a novelty act into a fiery Tex-Mex tune. Since I’m busy naming classic rockers, how about Robert Fripp / Dave Gilmour-style guitar solos on “The Golden Rule”, revealing his edicts of tolerance, kindness and patience:
Hey, that’s not an opinion or a point of view
It’s a simple universal truth
Treat others as you would like to be treated too
Follow the golden rule
The Oots believe that by classifying them only as “children’s music”, it lessens the impact of their songs. As they point out, everyone was once a child – so their CDs are for current children, alumni, and future children. The Bunchgrass Ponderosa and the golden rule emerges from the embers of the ‘family music’ era of the 1970s and fully inhabits their persona like a newly remodeled log cabin … with shag rug and groovy bell bottoms. The Bunchgrass Ponderosa and the golden rule is available at Oot ‘n Oots’s website, Band Camp, Spotify, and Apple Music. Here’s the video for the band’s song, “Thank You, Universe”: