Holiday Hoedown Sampler

Please enjoy this sampling of music from the Holiday Hoedown! Your copy is waiting! JUST $10! Hey, Ms Claus... I mean, Ms. Cress likes it!

Just a sampling of songs from The Plaza Family Band's Holiday Hoedown CD! Just in time for the holidays! Sales to benefit the Plaza Presbyterian Weekday School, Charlotte, NC.

Reviews: Playground Hootenanny


A little bit of love reviewers have shared with us about "Playground Hootenanny": 

"The Plaza family Band's new CD 'Playground Hootenanny' is as much fun for adults as kids. These are not your run-of-the-mill versions of traditional kid's songs, but ultra cool arrangements that make you want to listen and sing along again and again.  This project is reminiscent of the James Taylor and company's 'In Harmony' record."

-- John Tosco, Founder of long-running Tosco Music Parties

"Mike Strauss and the many members of the Plaza Family Band have proven again that children’s music doesn’t have to be cheesy. It just needs to musically accessible to all ages."

-- Gaston Alive Magazine

"Like the children and parents who have walked through the doors of the Presbyterian Weekday School, each song has its own flair of individuality and is worth listening to."

-- Nicole Pietrantonio, Creative Loafing

"The Playground Hootenanny CD features classic children's tunes, recorded in a variety of styles from folk to hip-hop.  Thankfully, it avoids that overly-produced, sweet sound found in so many other children's music albums."

-- Jessica Daitch,


Heard the CD?  What'd ya think?  Please share your comments and help us demonstrate the awesomeness.


For at least a year this CD has stayed in my ACTIVE car CD rotation and we play the music over and over AND learn the words...what a fun way to experience close quarters in the car with my grandhildren Genevieve and Ia....what a gift...thanks guys and gals!!!

July 12, 2012 | Jane Getsinger

This CD is on constant rotation in our cars and house. It's possibly the best kids CD ever (take that, They Might Be Giants!).

July 25, 2010 | Jacob

So proud to have been a part of this project! Thank you for visiting our website and hope that you enjoy the music. It is amazing the number of talented (and generous) Moms and Dads we have here in Plaza-Midwood. Thanks to everyone who made it happen (that includes YOU for listening to it!)

March 31, 2010 | Clifton Castelloe

Love this CD! I enjoy listening to it as much as my kids do. The songs are fun and catchy and there are a lot of cool twists to classic kids songs we all know plus some really neat originals. There's something on there for everyone!

January 29, 2010 | Cindy McInnes, former Plaza parent


Credits: Playground Hootenanny

Playground Hootenanny, Plaza Family Band, 2010

Playground Hootenanny, Plaza Family Band, 2010


  1. This Old Man - Mike Strauss (2:29)
  2. She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain - Hope Nicholls (2:33)
  3. Frogtown - Prince Frog E and DJ (2:22)
  4. Five Little Monkeys - Donovan Collins (1:34)
  5. One Bottle Of Pop - Barbara Bonner (1:24)
  6. La Bamba - Sergio Agraz (2:59)
  7. You’ve Got To Sing - Clifton Castelloe & Micaila Milburn (2:16)
  8. Polly Wolly Doodle - Hope Nicholls (2:39)

  9. My Bonnie - Mike Strauss (3:23)
  10. Alphabet Song - Beth Brown-Alrawi (1:21)
  11. Day With Dad - Donovan Collins (2:31)
  12. Cluck Old Hen - Hope Nicholls (1:42)
  13. Boom Boom Ain’t It Great To Be Crazy - Mike Strauss (2:29)
  14. If You’re Happy And You Know It - Barbara Bonner (1:56)
  15. Once I Caught A Fish Alive - Mike Strauss & Clifton Castelloe (1:28)
  16. De Colores - Sergio Agraz (3:18)
  17. Three Little Fishies - Hope Nicholls (2:28)

All songs Traditional except:
Track 3: written by Clifton Castelloe, (c)2009
Track 11: written by Donovan Collins, (c)2009
Total Time: 39:32

The Plaza Family Band:

  • Guitars:  Mike Strauss, Clifton Castelloe, Aaron Pitkin (track 17), Sergio Agraz (tracks 6 & 16)
  • Bass: Jon Schigoda, Dave Conlin (track 15), Rick Blackwell (track 3), Clifton Castelloe (track 17)
  • Percussion: Dave Conlin, Aaron Pitkin, Micaila Milburn (track 7), Clifton Castelloe (tracks 6 & 17)
  • Violin: Beth Brown Al-rawi
  • Piano: Donovan Collins, Barbara Bonner (track 5) 
  • Native Flute: Micaila Milburn
  • Melodica: Donovan Collins
  • Train Whistle: Donovan Collins
  • Guitaronne: Jon Schigoda
  • Monkey sounds: Hope Nicholls
  • Pops: Barbara Bonner
  • Harmonica: Clifton Castelloe
  • Monkey in Space: Charles Holloman
  • Backing Vocals: Hope Nicholls, Mike Strauss, Clifton Castelloe, Barbara Bonner, Beth Brown Al-rawi, Michelle Castelloe, Isabella & Lucy Castelloe, Mae Strauss

Recorded & Mixed by: Clifton Castelloe Oct/Nov ‘09
Produced by: Clifton Castelloe & Mike Strauss
Mastered by: Randy LeRoy at Final Stage Mastering
Cover Illustration: Raed Al-Rawi
Layout & Design: Christine Dryden
Executive Producer: Patti Schigoda

Illustration (c) 2009 Raed Al-Rawi
(c)(p) 2010 Songs From The Sky (ASCAP).
All Rights Reserved. Any unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.
recorded and printed in the USA.

Thanks to the generosity of these wonderful sponsors, 100% of proceeds from sales of "Playground Hootenanny" will benefit Plaza Presbyterian Weekday School.

Also deserving thanks are the many Plaza Family contributers who volunteered their time and talent to this project -- a long list that includes Mike Strauss and Clifton Castelloe (production), Raed Al-Rawi (illustration), Sarah Gates (photography), Christine Dryden (design), and of course, the musicians of The Plaza Family Band.

Press Release: Playground Hootenanny

Charlotte Musicians Release Benefit Children’s CD

Feb 13 Release Party Scheduled to Celebrate with Live Music & Family Fun

CHARLOTTE, NC, Jan 27, 2010 –  Local musicians whose children all attend the same Plaza-Midwood preschool have collaborated as “The Plaza Family Band” to produce an eclectic CD of original and traditional children’s music as a fundraiser for the school.  They’ll host a release party on February 13, 12-2pm, at The Pizza Peel (4422 Colwick Road) with a live performance and children’s activities.  Pizza Peel will donate a portion of their sales during the party to Kids First of the Carolinas and Right Moves for Youth.

“Playground Hootenanny”, which features a variety of sounds from folk to hip-hop, includes vocals by singer/songwriter Mike Strauss, Clifton Castelloe of acoustic guitar duo Melonbelly, and Hope Nicholls of Fetchin’ Bones, Sugarsmack and Snagglepuss fame.  Produced by Strauss and Castelloe, the 17-track recording is available locally at Manifest, Common Market and Boris+Natasha, and online at iTunes and CDBaby.

The album has begun getting airplay on local eclectic radio station WSGE 91.7 and has received praise by John Tosco, host of the long-running Tosco Music Parties. "The Plaza family Band's new CD 'Playground Hootenanny' is as much fun for adults as kids”, Tosco said. “These are not your run-of-the-mill versions of traditional kid's songs, but ultra cool arrangements that make you want to listen and sing along again and again.  This project is reminiscent of the James Taylor and company's 'In Harmony' record."

The Plaza Family Band includes Mike Strauss, Clifton Castelloe, Sergio Agraz, Hope Nicholls, Aaron Pitkin, Jon Schigoda, Dave Conlin, Rick Blackwell, Micaila Milburn, Beth Brown-AlRawi, Donovan Collins and Barbara Bonner.  

Proceeds from the sale of “Playground Hootenanny” will benefit Plaza Presbyterian Weekday School, a half-day preschool located in Charlotte's historic Plaza-Midwood neighborhood.  Founded in 1973, Plaza’s program uses an open, developmental approach to learning which allows children to enjoy play and socialization of early childhood without academic pressure. The “Plaza Family” is a creative, close-knit community full of artists and entrepreneurs.

Band photo, album artwork and musician bios available at  

Patti Schigoda, Director
Plaza Presbyterian Weekday School
2304 The Plaza, Charlotte, NC 28205
(704) 376-8595