Tag Archives: Dan Zanes

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)