Wayne Potash,
Don't Forget the Donut
(Happy House, 2005)

Wayne Potash is a man who knows how to play to his audience. More importantly, he's not afraid to play with them. Don't Forget the Donut is a children's album in more than its choice of music. Potash performs 19 of the most memorable melodies in American music with bright, understated guitar playing and a friendly vocal delivery that positively begs the audience to sing along.

And sing along they do, on tracks like "Get Your Kicks (On Route 66)." Young children won't be able to resist adding sound effects to the ballad of the "Stunt Car," or shouting out orders for an extravagant lunch with plenty of "The Frim Fram Sauce." Any adults worried that Donut might be too sweet for their taste will soon find themselves singing, too, trying to match the complicated spelling rhythm of "Constantinople" and the familiar patter of "I've Been Everywhere, Man."

Potash never grandstands or indulges in extravagant displays of guitar work. His songs are pitched to the level of his audience, so that a whole family car full of impatient children and tired adults can join in the "March of the Leprechauns" or instruct "Haul Away Joe."

The songs range from traditional favorites to Potash's original work, with a few contributions from other more modern songwriters. It's no shame to Potash that his work isn't always as strong as the traditional tracks; songs like "Hot Corn, Cold Corn" and "Juba" have after all been tested and polished by generations of performers, and even the more recent standards like "I've Been Everywhere, Man" and "Get Your Kicks (on Route 66)" have proven themselves over at least a few decades.

But Potash's songs and rewritten lyrics have their own charm, and it wouldn't be a bit surprising to hear his "Lobster Dance" on a new singer's album 30 years from now. Even if Don't Forget the Donut doesn't make it quite that far, it's still sweet enough to sustain a childhood's worth of play, and substantial enough for parents to sink their teeth in, too.

by Sarah Meador
13 May 2006

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