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After Dan Zanes and his wife, Paula Zanes, had a baby, Anna Zanes, they moved to New York City. Zanes subsequently began playing music with a group of other fathers that he had met in West Village playgrounds who were also there with their kids. These fathers playing music together eventually became The Wonderland String Band, which played at parks and parties and on a tape of songs that Zanes recorded at his home.
The tape was a hit locally—i.e. on the playgrounds where he and his daughter played—and Zanes realized that he liked making music that families could enjoy together, as opposed to music that is just for children or just for adults. So, he added a small number of women to his band, renamed it the Rocket Ship Revue, and began making a full-length homemade album, enlisting the help of some people he had met when he was a Del Fuego—Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega, and Simon Kirke, the drummer for Bad Company.
The album, Rocket Ship Beach (2000), was also a hit. The New York Times Magazine called it “cool”, and added, “Mostly, though, Zanes’ kids music works because it is not kids music; it’s just music—-music that’s unsanitized, unpasteurized, that’s organic even.” Sheryl Crow and Suzanne Vega made guest appearances on the album. The second album, Family Dance (2001) is composed of dance songs from a wide variety of musical traditions and features Loudon Wainwright III and Roseanne Cash. The third recording, the more mellow Night Time! (2002), features collaborations with Aimee Mann, Lou Reed, John Doe, Dar Williams, and other established musicians.
The fourth album in the family series is House Party (2003), a rambunctious 20-song collection with a diverse instrumentation that, in addition to the usual guitars, banjos, upright bass and drums, includes such instruments as tuba, accordion, pump organ, djembe and saw. House Party was nominated for a Grammy in the Musical Album for Children category. Music video selections from the House Party album play during the Disney Channel’s morning program suite known as Playhouse Disney.
In 2007, Zanes received the Grammy Award for Best Musical Album for Children for Catch That Train! and produced a children’s reggae CD with Father Goose called “Its a Bam Bam Diddly”, which also features songs performed by Sister Carol and Sheryl Crow.
In early 2009, Zanes’ ¡Nueva York! won in The 8th Annual Independent Music Awards for Best Children’s Music Album.Wide ThumbClearartFanartBanner User Comments