Tag Archives: Dan Zanes

How do they do it?

Yellow-shirt-kurt

For many of us that play in the kindie realm  we are all aware of the Justin Roberts, Laurie Berkners, Dan Zanes and The Okee Dokees of our genre. But how many are aware of the Kurt Gallaghers, Laura Dohertys and Jim Cosgroves?  LauraDohertyThese three fine individuals have been at this music thing for a very looooonnng time and making a living at it. If you’re going to KindieComm and a would be pursuer of music in this kindie/childrens/family/all ages realm and looking to make a living at it. I suggest you find one of these fine folks during the conference, buy them a beverage of their choice, sit down, ask some pertinent questions and hear what they have to say. That’s the best part of these festivals. The panels are informative but the conversations had with other artists and fellow kindieteers are PRICELESS.  Buy em a beverage and tell em John sent ya!

Cover of American Profile. Diane Guthrie photo.

Cover of American Profile. Diane Guthrie photo.

Dan Zanes is here THIS SATURDAY!!!

dan zanesIn a town (Chicago) filled with great kids music we are truly blessed with the variety and quality of the acts that play in the neighborhood.  Laura Doherty, Little Miss Ann, Istvan and his Imaginary Band, Human Tim+Robot Tim, Miss Jaime, Mister Singer, Jeanie B! and national acts  Ralph’s World and Justin Roberts (two time Grammy nominee).  So the fact that my family and I are excited to see Dan Zanes and friends this Saturday is a bit of a big deal.  He is  referred to as the founder of the modern Kindie (kids independent) movement and one of the first to play great all ages  shows.  He is also an artist that inspired me to get into the kindie movement when I heard my band mate (pre-Poochamungas) Pete play Wagon Wheel.  A song I profiled on the blog earlier this year in my Song and the Process  series (see article here).  I’ve seen Dan play solo and with Elizabeth Mitchell but never with the full band so this is a treat. We’ve probably listened to the Catch That Train CD a thousand times. Watched the Jump Up video just as much.  My daughter is a big fan and I’m sure my son is about to become one as well.  The thinCatch-That-Train-300x300g about Dan’s music is it’s all rooted in Americana. Whether rock, traditional, folk it’s always got terrific roots. Dan’s secret is simple. Play great music that everyone can enjoy.   So head to the Harris Theater this Saturday, November 15th at 2pm. It’s gonna be a whole lot of fun for the whole family. Now go out and support an Independent artist today!

The Song and the Process. Grandma Said by Story Laurie

Story LaurieThe journey in which Story Laurie (2013 Best Children’s Performer, Hudson Valley Magazine) became Story Laurie is a tale unto itself. There shall be a slight reveal here because of it’s connection to one of my favorite songs Grandma Said but it is definitely a yarn spinner for another time… What caught me about this song was the deep rich vocals of Lauri McIntosh and the depth and simplicity of the uke led three piece band (ukulele, bass, drums) backing her up. The song itself is a sweet conversation between the Grandma and a child who is asking many questions and grandma doesn’t have the answers but really admires the questions.  The lyrics came from “Grandma” Avis who was a legendary storyteller in Woodstock, NY.  Avis was a mentor, friend and family to Laurie (and many others) who helped guide her in her storytelling craft and endeavors. After Avis passed away too soon from cancer.  While Laurie was dealing with her grief she took the funeral bookmark which instead of a proverb or scripture passage had a poem written by GrandmaCD-Story-Laurie Avis called… Grandma Said.  She then put those words to music and added just a chorus keeping the poem almost entirely intact.  The song is simple, sweet and sentimental without the sapp (I’m not even gonna mention it was recorded with Dean Jones.) Anyone who ever listened to a child ask questions knows the feeling.  This is a departure from her usual songwriting technique.  Usually Laurie goes for walks (another theme here visit Dan Zanes article), finds a melody and the comes home to record it on whatever is available.  iPods, answering machines, tape recorders,  etc.  I asked why she didn’t use her phone and she says it’s a simple machine lacking such features. She just recently put out a new song and  has a bunch more to record.  That is when she’s not homeschooling the kids, storytelling, gardening, teaching song workshops, singing about organic foods and of course being Story Laurie.  One of her recent teaching collaborations turned into the song Who Grew My Soup which is worth a listen as well.  So give Laurie’s webpage a look and while you’re there buy the CD. Go support your local kindie artist today!

Next week and tomorrow is the Big Day

Next week here at A Man, A Band and A Plan I will have a couple of bonified super duper interviews.  First I have a talk with Drew Holloway of Recess Monkey discussing the musical growth of the Recess Monkey who play some pretty darn cool music.  Then it’s a  return to the Song and the Process and an interview with Dan Zanes and one of my all time favorite songs Wonder Wheel!  Stop on by next week it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

tim stolie

Human Tim and Super Stolie!

Tomorrow the Poochamungas take the stage at Lincoln Hall.  many of Chicago’s finest kindie rockers will be there playing a couple of songs and acting all kinds of silly.  The rehearsal on Thursday went well and was really a lot of fun.  Getting to hang out and play music is the whole idea anyway.  There was food, beverages and a whole lot of good music. The show looks to be a great time so go and get your tickets today! Remember it’s SATURDAY, MARCH 8 AT 3PM.

 

2013 Remem-blurred!

The backyard view.

The backyard view.

New Zealand started out the year as my friend Nick invited us (the wife and I) to his wedding in January (amazing). Seems it’s been full-speed-ahead-try-to-catch-up-break-neck-pace-all-year-long. The year I went to the Grammys.  Many thanks to Jeff Bogle for making it an epic adventure there as well. What a great time thanks to the McHattons (TESLA!)

It's Electric!!!

It’s Electric!!!

, Okee Dokee Brothers, Mindy Thomas, David Tobocman, Debbie Block, Bill Harley and everyone else I got to hang with including new kindie blogger Rebecca Yorn Allison (Kids Can Grove)  Then there was a the last kindiefest ever! Didn’t know it at the time but many thanks to Bill, Stephanie, Mona and Tor for making it happen.  What a great time and I really did learn a thing or two from the panels but so much more from the people!

Great guys in great hats who make great music and me!

Great guys in great hats who make great music and me!

Story Laurie, Dean Jones (thanks for the beer), MCJ (always brings it funky), The McHatton clan (Such a great family), Mindy Thomas, Kenny Curtis. Rod Martin , Chris Wiser, Paul Butler, Dave Loftin, Paul Stark, Steve Songs, Laurie Berkner, Dan Zanes, Ralph, Jeff Bogle (again), Stefan Shepard, Rebecca Yorn Allison, Brady Rymer, Bridgette Rymer, Melissa Levis, Jacob Stein, Charlie Hope, Little Miss Ann, Mr Singer and the Sharp Cookies (good luck on the new school), Jack Forman, Drew Holloway, Korum Bischoff (Great addition to the School Break Primates) David Wax Museum (one of my favorite CD’s I heard this year!), Molly Ledford (I promise to be quiet next time), Morgan Taylor, Jason Rabinowitz, Joanie Leeds, Mr Kurt Gallagher (Peace and Quiet is a great song!), Lucky Diaz, Alisha Gaddis, Johnny Bregar (Polly’s Rain Dance is Awesome), Sean Hogan (Welcome to Fatherhood brother!), Kathy O’Connel (the Grand Dame of kindie), Danny Adamson, Tom Baisden (union brothers unite!), Tim Kubart (Congrats Chica Dude!), Beth Blenz-Clucas, Tito Uquillas and whoever I’m forgetting.  Just send me a note and I’ll add you to the list. Then we had a few gigs, finished our second CD, got some national exposure (thanks Elizabeth), played some more, kids kept growing, my daughter soloed in ice skating, my son jammed with me daily, listened to a lot of great music and wrote about a bunch of it. Went to CHITAG (thanks Rock Father). Frances england blink of an eyeWe also had family bouts of pnemonia, respitory ailments, colds and flus  and car crashes (no one injured).  My daughter just turned nine and my son will in a few months turn 4.  I joined a group of Dad Bloggers on Facebook (some seriously funny stuff).  Reconnected with some Pine Forest Camp folks from my youth.  Lost some weight and managed to keep it off.  On the right track closing out the year.  It was a interesting year to be sure and the growth has been good.  Thanks to all who have read the pages here and to those who inspire me to write and get better at it.  Hope everyone learned from 2013 and I wish them and theirs a Happy 2014.

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Local Kindie Shows

Art by Joe Somers

Art by Joe Somers

The Poochamungas have a big CD release show at Schubas September 29th at 2pm with Koo Koo Kangaroo.  It’s going to be a great time.  This got me to thinking about other great shows taking place in the Chicago area.  So I thought I’d list a few.

Ella Jenkins – Sunday, September 15th at the Old Town School of Folk Music  http://www.oldtownschool.org/concerts/2013/09-15-2013-ella-jenkins-11am/

Laura Doherty – Saturday, September 21 at 27 Live in Evanston.  http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/365473/tfly

Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell – Saturday, September 28th at the Old Town School of Folk Music.  http://www.oldtownschool.org/concerts/2013/09-28-2013-dan-zanes-and-elizabeth-mitchell-11am/

Little Miss Ann Trio at St. John Berchman Fall Festival – September 28 in Chicago.   https://www.facebook.com/events/417309165039674/

Mr Singer at the Lincoln Park Zoo every Wednesday and Friday. http://www.lpzoo.org/events

Kindiefest no more…

Kindie so long old friendThe long road I mentioned yesterday (link here) just got a little longer and harder.  I flipped on the laptop this morning to find that kindiefest was over. It has disbanded for reasons unknown and I for one am a bit saddened by this.  It was my hope that eventually we could have a similar event in the Midwest, preferably Chicago though anywhere  in the Midwest would be fine (hello Jiggle Jam!)  Everyone in the kids music world knows the Justin Roberts, Laurie Berkners and Dan Zanes. You also get to meet the Jim Cosgrove’s, Kurt Gallagher’s and Laura Doherty’s.  Regional musicians who were plugging away, making a living but all looking for new ideas and sharing their own experiences and you got to meet the ones struggling just like you were.   That was the best part for me.  Showcase was always a lot of fun, (for the record I did buy the Pizza in 2011 not wanting to have to leave showcase)  there were some really worthwhile panels (find your own Mississippi-thanks Molly Ledford!) and the  Friday Keynote/meet and greet was always a highlight.  I got to meet so many unpretentious great musicians and industry folk like Kurt Gallagher, Sean Hogan, Kathy O’Connel, Jeff Bogle, Dean Jones, Dave Loftin, Paul Butler, Danny Adamson, Joanie Leeds and her future drummer husband (his name is Dan), Jim Cosgrove, Mindy Thomas, Kenny Curtis, Jack Forman, Justin Roberts, Beth Blenz-Clucas, Bridget Rymer, Story Laurie, Stefan Shepard, Bill Childs, Tor, Stephanie Mayers,  Mona Kayan, Mista Cookie Jar,  Justin Lansing, Joe Mailander, Johnny Bregar, Key Wilde, Chris Wiser, Rod Martin, The Pop-Ups, Laura Doherty, Little Miss Ann, Tim Kubart  and the others I have forgotten.  I say thank you all for your insight, kindness, advice and laughs.  Especially the laughs!   I don’t know about you folks but I’m not ready for this party to end.  Kindie Chicago 2014? It might happen…

I know that girl and music we’ve been listening too since kindiefest…

Cover of American Profile. Diane Guthrie photo.

Cover of American Profile. Diane Guthrie photo.

Anyone who reads this blog know of my trials and successes as a kindie musician.  To promote my next CD I have taken the next step of hiring the services of Publicist Elizabeth Waldman Frasier of Waldmania (very excited.)  So imagine my surprise when I see my daughter has garnered the photo in American Profile (a national publication) in an article titled Jiggle Jam by Carol Crupper.   Sure it’s an article about Jim Cosgrove, Dan Zanes, Frances England and the Okee Dokee Brothers but there on the front page is my daughter singing along with Jim! (she’s the tall redhead)  Now Jim is a great guy, friend and Jiggle Jam is a festival worth making the trip to if you get the chance.  Really the best family festival I have ever been to… Twice!  But I’m thinking maybe I hire my daughter to do the PR?  After all she just made the cover of a national publication…

It’s been three weeks since I attended Kindiefest and we have been working our way thru all the music we received while in attendance (By we I mean my two kids and I.)   A few CD’s have been really separating themselves from the rest.  First is The Hipwaders – Golden State.

One of our new Fav's!

One of our new Fav’s!

The hit on Kids Place Live (KPL) was a groovy cool sounding Hey Josie.   But The Ramble (been stuck in my head for a week in a good way) is my favorite.  If you like California surf guitar licks with a driving backbeat this CD is for you.  Next is Johnny Bregar – My Neighborhood.  I define this as American Music.  Rock, Blues, Country and all cool.  We

Rocking CD with flavors of blues, country and all cool.

Rocking CD with flavors of blues, country and all cool.

were big fans of Polly’s Rain Dance  (played on KPL) and  the whole CD is just a continuation of great sounding music.  To call this kiddie music or label these CD’s as just for children is a disservice.  As we in Poochamungas land like to say.  Good Music Knows No Age.   The third CD which is not a “kids” CD (the band closed kindiefest.)  is David Wax Museum – Knock Knock Get up.  It’s defined as Mexo-Americana but WOW!  To try to categorize the music limits what this album really is.  While you can hear the Mexican and Americana influences the music is it’s own definition and it totally blew me away.

Amazing music.

Amazing music.

The title song is amazing as is the rest of this wonderful music.  There is a very deep musical pool on this CD and I suggest you jump on in.   I shall be voting for them come Grammy Time (The other two artists CD’s released in 11′ and 12′ so no voting for them.)  I still have a few more CD’s to listen and will report as I do.  But these will all be in rotation for weeks to come.

The Song and the Process. Dan Zanes and Wonder Wheel.

dan zanesIt’s a song that feels like a warm summer day.  The imagery is simple yet waxing poetic.    I went to a weekend fair/ met someone while i was there/ we put flowers in our hair/ and rode the wonder wheel. The song in question is Wonder Wheel by Dan Zanes on the Family Dance CD.  One of the most iconic all ages kindie songs ever written.  Who doesn’t want to take a ride on a ferris wheel on a beautiful warm sunny day?  The irony is when Dan wrote the song the day was anything but warm. Thirteen years ago he was out on Coney Islandconeyisland_wonderwheel_ferriswheel_962732_o for a field trip with is daughter on a cold, blustery winter day.  There weren’t even any cars on the Wonder Wheel (read about it HERE) as it was closed for the season.  This all led him to think of what if… So Dan took a musical journey to a warmer time.  When asked if the lyrics or music came first he said “it kinda all came at once”.  One of those rare inspirational moments writers cherish after working/grinding out so many other songs.  He had a certain sound in mind inspired by the Deighton Family.   He used their music as a template which he described as “traditional acoustic meets 50’s rock.” (I have since listened to The Deighton Family and his description is spot on. Do yourself a favor and check them out).  The accordion and its calliope sound really set the scene in the song bringing the sound of the fair to the listener with the guitar, mandolin, bass and drums, plus a little harp nicely rounding out the tune.  What’s especially cool about this tune is it is now available as an app on Miblio allowing you the listener to become the producer!  You want to add keyboards… ok! Take out the mandolin… done! The app allows you to add and remove instruments making the song your own.  It’s available on iTunes for only .99 cents. The only disappointment is that it’s only available for the iPad.  If you have one it’s definitely worth the purchase. So you ask what is Dan doing these days?  Brooklyn_Conservatory_of_Music_jehTeaching music to kids at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and working on a new CD with a kid-centric theme based on his work at the conservatory  Not only is he working on a new CD he has recently scored a Buster Keaton silent movie and is playing it live as the film rolls on the screen (I’m hoping I get a chance to see that). And of course he’s writing though these days his approach has changed. Where once he would sit with a guitar or at a piano (which he still does occasionally) he now goes for walks and writes the tunes in his head.  Humming and singing into his phone. He got the idea from fellow Kindie artist Greg Schelsa (from Greg and Steve). Dan’s taken to it and plans to use the spring and summer ahead to walk and work more prolifically.  Sounds like an excellent plan.  So go on and buy the app, check out Wonder Wheel if you haven’t heard it and as always go support a kindie artist today.  I highly recommend the works of Dan Zanes!  

A bounty of Family Music

If you follow the kindie world as I do and your not in a band, a parental music blog/critic or a talent agent/booker I would worry about you a little.  But being in Chicago we are really blessed with an active kids music scene. Justin Roberts and Ralph Covert are from here and play regularly.  We have Mr. Singer, ScribbleMonster, Little Miss Ann, Human Tim/Robot Tim, Laura Doherty, Jeanie B and many others including my own Poochamungas.  Any weekend of the year there is quaility family music playing at a festival,  club or library somwhere near you.  But in the next couple months we not only have the local scene we will have Dan Zanes, Bill Harley, Jim Cosgrove and Trout Fishing in America.  I reccomend you see as many of these performers as possible because they really do represent the finest in family entertainment. From Jim’s high energy positive message “free range family rock” as he calls it to Bills truly amazing story telling (Walk Around the Block is a family fav),  Trout Fishings great musicianship (I still can’t believe two guys can make that much music) and Dan Zanes who’s just plays the music he loves for the people who enjoy it.   Each one of their shows are interactive fun and they have been doing it a long time. They are all masters of the craft and make it look so easy (it’s not) and have so much fun.  Each act has their special way of performing  and have performed all over the country.   Most of all they don’t visit the Chicago area very often.  So go see these performers as they stop for a show.  See dates and places and times below and click on them to link to where they are playing.

Dan Zanes at the Old Town School of Folk Music Oct 15 (Chicago)

Jim Cosgrove at the Blues Bar Oct 22 (Mt. Prospect)

Bill Harley at the Stage Left Cafe at the Woodstock Opera House Nov 12 (Woodstock)

Trout Fishing in America at the Od Town School December 4 (Chicago)