“Dan Zanes is a really good singer, and his songs are really fun. They make you want to dance.” So claims a 9-year-old Zanes-head I know who's been attending Dan Zanes & Friends shows since he was practically toothless. “Homespun” doesn't even begin to describe Zanes' patchwork-folky sound, drawing from every corner of the globe. This tour celebrates the 10th anniversary of the album that started it all, Rocket Ship Beach. Somehow, from an airplane, Zanes illuminated via e-mail his reason for being: “When I released Rocket Ship Beach, I had made a conscious decision to leave pop music behind and throw myself headlong into this 21st-century, all-ages social music. I didn't really know what that meant — there wasn't a lot of it out there at the time — but I felt that this was what I was really cut out to do. It's definitely been wild to see it grow and take us slowly around the world. We were supposed to have played in Bahrain last week, but it was canceled for obvious reasons. We've played there before, and I thought it would have been the perfect time to go back, but no luck.”
And do the little ones who loved his first album still come to his shows now that they are too-cool-for-middle-school? “A lot of them do, but sometimes the sight of crazed packs of 4-year-olds makes them feel out of place. It's too bad because I know they're still digging the music, but there are a lot of social questions swirling around in the minds of the older kids. There's an unfortunate desire in some of them to be or appear cool. They'll get over it when they become parents themselves and find themselves changing diapers on park benches!”
After collaborating with Lou Reed, Suzanne Vega, Carol Channing, Sheryl Crow and Sandra Bernhard, among loads of others, with which artist would he like to record a duet? “India.arie, Monie Love, Rod Stewart, Cafe Tacuba, Patti Smith, etc., etc. We'll be recording with Andrew Bird later this month and we recently cut a tune with Sharon Jones, as well as the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars. We saved a spot for Neil Diamond, as we always do.”
And what music does his teenage daughter like? “One of the best things about being the parent of a teenager is the chance to hear what's happening out in the world. Most of the people I listen to aren't alive any more, but she turned me on to Chromeo, Ratatat, a lot of dubstep. We went to Lollapalooza together last summer, which was a trip, but I would say the one thing we agree on all the time is Jackson Browne.”
Sat., March 19, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m., 2011
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