Dan Zanes, former frontman of the '80s garage-pop band the Del
Fuegos, now heads the group Dan Zanes and Friends, which secured a
Grammy Award for Best Musical Album for Children with its 2006
release of "Catch That Train!" and has become a staple on Playhouse
Disney. On May 30, touring in support of its two most recent
albums, "¡Nueva York!" and "The Welcome Table," the group will
bring its show to Chicago's Harris Theater for a doubleheader
Going Places: How would you describe the group's unique musical
Dan Zanes: I'd call it wild folk music for all ages. The goal is
to spread the joy of music-making and inspire people to want to
make their own music. This used to be a very musical country, but
these days people are mostly consuming music and not making it
themselves. It's actually very easy to do and very rewarding.
GP: What do you get out of performing music for children and
DZ: Our audience is incredible-they're great dancers; they sing
along and it becomes a very communal experience. I guess the answer
would be, what don't we get out of it? It's great to look out and
see people of all different backgrounds and ages singing and
dancing with each other.
GP: You've called "¡Nueva York!" your "pro-immigration" album.
What do you mean by that?
DZ: It's our way of celebrating the cultures that come to us.
There's not enough celebration and way too much hostility towards
our friends from Latin America. So we wanted to create the sound of
the party where everyone is invited. Music can build the bridges,
and the more we're able to sing and dance with each other, the more
we come to understand each other.
GP: What sorts of messages in your albums are good for kids?
DZ: I think the message is just that we're all in it together,
and that music-making is a joyous experience and it's something
that anyone can do.
GP: What should a family expect from this concert?
DZ: People should definitely be ready to come out and sing at
the top of their lungs and do some wild dancing. That's the nature
of the show-it's like a big party rather than a concert.
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