In the 1980s Dan Zanes was lead singer for the Indie garage-pop band the Del Fuegos. But in recent years Zanes has become the hottest thing to hit children’s music since “Frère Jaque,” releasing half-a-dozen critically acclaimed all-ages albums that reinvent American roots-rock.
On Saturday, May 10, Dan Zanes & Friends will present a pair of shows, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., as part of Edison Theatre’s popular ovations! for young people series. Tickets — which are extremely limited — are $8 and are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets. Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.
For more information, call (314) 935-6543 or email Edison@wustl.edu.
Born in Exeter, N.H., in 1961, Zanes began playing guitar at the age of eight, borrowing Leadbelly records from the public library as soon as he was old enough to get a library card. He met fellow musician Tom Lloyd on his first day at Oberlin College, while waiting for breakfast in the cafeteria line. The two struck up a conversation and later that day formed a band. They soon left school for Boston, where they became known as the Del Fuegos and, in 1984, were named “Best New Band” by Rolling Stone magazine.
Zane released four albums with the Del Fuegos — The Longest Day (1984), Boston, Mass (1985), Stand Up (1987) and Smoking in the Fields (1989) — and had a hit single with “Don’t Run Wild.” In 1987 he married Paula Grief, who directed the video for the Del Fuegos’ “I Still Want You.”
Shortly after releasing his first solo album, Cool Down Time (1994), Zanes and Paula moved to New York with their young daughter, Anna. There, on the playgrounds of the West Village, he met several other musician/fathers, including the guitarist G.E. Smith, and they soon began performing folk classics as the Wonderland String Band. In 2000 Zanes enlisted the talents of Smith, Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega and others for Rocket Ship Beach, a homemade all-ages CD, which became an instant hit with both families and critics. “Zanes’ kids music works because it is not kids music,” noted The New York Times Magazine, “it’s just music—music that’s unsanitized, unpasteurized, that’s organic even.”
For his next CD, Family Dance (2001), Zanes was joined by Loudon Wainwright III and Roseanne Cash, while Night Time! (2002) featured collaborations with Aimee Mann and Lou Reed. The Grammy-nominated House Party (2003) featured Deborah Harry, Bob Weir and Philip Glass, as well as the Rubí Theater Company and Rankin Don (a.k.a Father Goose). His best-selling Parades and Panoramas (2004) paid homage to The American Songbag (1927), an influential folk songbook compiled by poet Carl Sandburg.
“[Zanes’] albums are hip enough for Debbie Harry and Lou Reed to make cameos but accessible enough for the under-ten set to sing along,” says Esquire magazine. “This is good ‘ol fashioned pop music for all ages.”
Zanes’ most recent release — the Grammy-winning Catch That Train! (2006) — brings together the Kronos Quartet, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Zanes’ mother-in-law and the children of South Africa’s Agape Orphanage. Nueva York!, forthcoming later this month, is Zanes’ “pro-immigration CD,” featuring songs from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and other parts of the Spanish-speaking Americas.
In addition to recording music, Zanes has co-authored two picture books — Hello Hello (2004) and Jump Up! (2005) — with the artist Donald Saaf, and released a concert DVD, All Around the Kitchen! (2005), recorded at New York’s famed Knitting Factory.
Founded in 1973, the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series serves both Washington University and the St. Louis community by providing the highest caliber national and international artists in music, dance and theater, performing new works as well as innovative interpretations of classical material not otherwise seen in St. Louis.
Edison Theatre programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors. The OVATIONS! Season is supported by The Mid-America Arts Alliance with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
WHO: Dan Zanes & Friends
WHEN: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, May 10
WHERE: Edison Theatre, Washington University, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.
TICKETS: $8; Available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets
SPONSOR: Edison Theatre ovations! for young people series