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House Party

Dan Zanes

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Album Review

Former Del Fuegos frontman Dan Zanes is one of the few artists making children's music that appeals to both kids and their parents. House Party is his fourth kids' record and it shows no drop-off in energy or imagination. He and his band create lighthearted, easily rocking tunes with mostly acoustic instruments. Zanes has a great voice for kids' records; loose and light, he sounds more like an older brother than some stuffy old teacher. The tunes are a mix of traditional songs like "Old Joe Clark," "Down in the Valley," and "Hop Up Ladies" and Zanes originals like the fun "House Party Time" and the laid-back country rocker "Sunny Old Sun." A hallmark of Zanes' records is the wide range of guests who show up to join in the fun. Here, Debbie Harry lends some vocals to a stately "Waltzing Matilda," Bob Weir helps out on "Wabash Cannonball," Angélique Kidjo helps romp through "Jamaica Farewell," and Philip Glass plays pump organ on the sweet ballad "A Place for Us." A couple of the songs feature a group of kids known as the Dandelion Chorus adding vocals, and there is plenty of unique instrumentation to keep the recorded from sounding bland. House Party is a rare kids' record that doesn't condescend to kids; maybe that is why parents, and maybe even people without kids, will find it to be a whole lot of fun.

Biography

Born: 1961 in Exeter, NH

Genre: Children's Music

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

After years of rocking in the 1980s with the Del Fuegos, singer/songwriter Dan Zanes created his own band, the Dan Zanes Trio, in 1994. The group got started when Zanes was hanging out with producer Mitchell Froom in Lower Manhattan; after adding drummer Jerry Marotta, they began playing their sparse blues and folk-rock to small crowds in clubs like the CBGB Gallery. Produced by Froom, the trio's debut LP, Cool Down Time, a raw rock effort influenced by '60s-era R&B, appeared in 1995. In 2001...
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House Party, Dan Zanes
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