Our new award, the Full Van Champion, recognizes the best album for 2017 (using Grammy Awards calendar – October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017), that our whole family enjoyed. For the award, we adopted a “March Music Madness” tournament format with 16 of our favorite albums competing head-to-head until the 2017 Full Van Champion is crowned. On March 18th, we announced our Full Van Championship and after a series of hard fought matches, here are the first round results. For the first round, everyone in the family listened to three songs from each album and then voted on which album they liked better. In the event of a tie, everyone listened to one additional song from each album, and then voted again, but only on that song. This process was then repeated until there was a winner for the round.

Green Bracket: #1 StevenSteven – Foreverywhere VS #4 Jazzy Ash – Swing Set


While Jazzy Ash’s Swing Set is a truly wonderful album and we had the opportunity to interview her when the album was released, it was a tough first round match with the fantastic fun of StevenSteven. WINNER: StevenSteven – Foreverywhere.

Green Bracket: #2 Jess Penner – Imagination VS #3 KB Whirly – Songs from the WhirlJazzy Ash – Swing Set


This one was close. Both albums are very good and a worthy addition to any collection. After the first round of scoring, it was tied with 4 voting for Jess Penner and 4 voting for KB Whirly. To break the tie, we listened to one more song from each album and then, with the narrowest of margins, we identified the best album. WINNER: KB Whirly – Songs from the Whirly House

Blue Bracket: #1 Gustafer Yellowgold – Brighter Side VS #4 Lisa Loeb – Feel What You Feel


Lisa Loeb’s Feel What You Feel won a 2018 Grammy, but in our bracket, she was only a #4 seed. We interviewed Lisa earlier this year and loved her new album. However, this match belonged Gustafer Yellowgold and his bruising bacon creation. WINNER: Gustafer Yellowgold – Brighter Side

Blue Bracket: #2 Justin Roberts – Lemonade VS #3 Let All the Children Boogie – A Tribute to David Bowie


When we first interviewed Justin Roberts and heard his new album, Lemonade, we were impressed. Apparently so was the Recording Academy as Lemonade was also a 2018 Grammy nominee. However, equally amazing was a David Bowie tribute album featuring a myriad of super talented independent artists (including Justin Roberts). In the end, Major Tom beat out Lemonade to move on to the next round. WINNER –  Let All the Children Boogie – A Tribute to David Bowie

Orange Bracket: #1 Lucky Diaz – Made in LA VS #4 Pointed Man Band – Between the Waves and the Cardoons


“Between the Waves and the Cardoons” by Pointed Man Band is a symphonic treat, but it could not compete with Made in L.A. With a host of guest stars and an insanely melodic variety of tunes, Lucky Diaz’s Made in L.A. just had too much firepower. WINNER: Lucky Diaz – Made in L.A.

Orange Bracket: #2 Jack Forman – Songs from the Monkey House VS #3 Red Yarn – Born in the Deep Woods


Double overtime. Red Yarn and Jack Forman. Deep Woods and Dagobah. A brilliant third album from a historically inspired family folk musician (Red Yarn) and an inzany debut solo album from a paragon of the Kindie community (Jack Forman). The contrast could not have been greater, and yet both were great. After the initial voting – tied. After the first overtime of voting – tied. It was only in the second overtime, where a random draw of songs put Jack Forman’s “No Name” vs Red Yarn’s “Old Mother Goose” that the best album was revealed. WINNER: Jack Forman – Songs from the Monkey House

Yellow Bracket: #1 Rabbit! – Golden Carrot VS #4 Spring Bees – Spring Bees


Spring Bees “Spring Bees” debut was a dazzling kaleidoscope of styles and sounds from an incredibly talented and creative artist with a very promising future. But, Rabbit!’s addictively melodic masterpieces from the “Golden Carrot” could not be mastered. WINNER: Rabbit! – Golden Carrot

Yellow Bracket: #2 Emily Arrow – Storytime Singalong Volume 2 VS Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Songs of Peace and Love for Kids


Ladysmith Black Mambazo won the 2018 Grammy for World Music with their compelling harmonies and rhythms. Emily Arrow’s “Storytime Singalong Volume 2” is a bright and tender collection of tunes inspired by your favorite children’s books. Both albums open eyes and hearts, but only one could win best album. WINNER: Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Songs of Peave & Love for Kids

First Round Summary

Congratulations to all of the first round winners and remember that even those who lost, still have really good albums worth checking out. Stay tuned for second round results next week and thanks for following along!

Interested in musicians like Amy Lee (Evanescence)Lisa LoebAndrew & PollyCaspar Babypants (Presidents of the United States)Danny Weinkauf (They Might Be Giants)Bryan Vander Ark (The Verve Pipe), Rissi Palmer, and Tim Kubart, travel stories about amazing destinations and adventures like the White House Easter Egg Roll, Santa Fe or Craters of the Moon? How about interviews with authors like Daniel Pinkwater or celebrity chefs like Fabio Viviani, Marc Murphy, and Jonathon Sawyer? What about recipes, ranks, reviews, or other tips for families?

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Comment below with who you think should be the 2017 Full Van Champion!