[ATTENDED: February, 20, 2012] Dan Zanes at State Theatre
We have loved Dan Zanes since we were first introduced to him (like everyone else–as soon as we had kids). I knew that Zanes was in the Del Fuegos, although (even though I lived in Boston for many years) I’d never heard them. I have since listened to them but found them to be lacking, especially compared to Dan Zanes’ solo stuff.
So Dan Zanes has been releasing children’s albums for a number of years, now. He has access to some pretty high-profile guests (his album Night Time features Aimee Mann, John Doe, Lou Reed and Dar Williams). But even without the high-profile guests, the records are fun, warm and very inviting.
And so was this concert. I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a concert at 10AM before, but this one was a lot of fun (Dan also joked about having a concert before lunch). Dan came out (holy cow is he skinny), big hair all poofed out and immediately made everyone want to have fun. He asked if we were there for a concert (which was fine with him, we could sit back and enjoy the music) or a party. Although the ushers didn’t really like the party idea–every time Dan told us to get up and dance the ushers pushed us back to our seats–it never drowned out the spirit of the show.
Many of our favorite Dan songs are slow like “Mariposa Ole” (we tend to listen to him at night for bedtime). He didn’t play any of those. But that was totally okay because this was a party, and his upbeat and fun sing-along songs were really what we wanted to experience live–no naptimes at this show!
We didn’t know too many of the songs he played–we had just gotten the new disc, and he played a lot from that. But it didn’t matter because he taught us the parts to sing along to, and after a verse or so, it was like we knew the song completely.
His accompanying band was great (I wish I could tell you their names, but I can’t). And it was super fun to see the band members switching off instruments–Dan himself played guitar, banjo and ukulele. There was also a cool Mexican guitar with 8 strings, a tuba and a drum set.
Dan has really been getting into Spanish (he released an album called Nuevo York, after all) and there were a few beautiful songs in Spanish. His one band member is a woman from Mexico with a beautiful voice (Dan made a nice plea to end the border wars which, sadly, was met with silence, but I think it was a nice gesture–especially at a kids show).
He also plays a fun sea shanty type song (complete with arm motions) called “Strike the Bell” which was a lot of fun. And he played a few older songs as well. One of the major highlights was the concert-hall-wide conga line (ushers be damned at this point). Dan got everyone on their feet to the tune of “All Around the Kitchen” and the audience marched around, having fun and feeling delighted.
But the most exciting part for us was that Dan and his band left the stage by marching through the audience (up the very aisle that we were sitting next to!). They kept playing their song as they paraded out within inches of us. It was super fun. Perhaps only a little cooler was that he was then hanging around in the front room to sign autographs. I was bummed that we didn’t have any discs with us, but he signed out concert stub. Note the suspicion on my son’s face (and apologies to my daughter that she got cut out of the picture).
Tabitha loved the show–she was dancing from the first song. Clark, somehow, said he was a little bored by it–how can my son me so unmusical? And Sarah and I had a wonderful time. It was fun seeing the kids sing along and clap their hands, and the music is so good–Dan has really mastered the art of making music that appeals to children without talking down to them. It’s a great show and I’d definitely see him again.