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Rocket Ship Beach

Dan Zanes

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Album Review

Rocket Ship Beach introduced Dan Zanes' special brand of children's music, which mixes well-known songs for kids, standards, and traditional country and folk songs with a hand-crafted sound and plenty of affection for both the music and its intended audience. The "friends" who help Zanes with Rocket Ship Beach include Sheryl Crow, whose duet with Zanes on "Polly Wolly Doodle" gets the album off to a strong start; Suzanne Vega, who lends a lilting guilelessness to "Erie Canal"; and the Wonderland String Band, who guest on several tracks and give an extra twang to "King Kong Kitchie," "Keep on the Sunnyside," and "Brown Girl in the Ring." From the British folk-tinged "All My Friends Live in the Woods" — which features Simon Kirke — to the vaudevillian "Sidewalks of New York" to the reggae-inspired "On the Sunnyside of the Street," Rocket Ship Beach is as diverse as it is charming; the storybook-like packaging and Donald Saaf's whimsical illustrations add to its heartfelt, homespun look and sound. Zanes' other albums — Night Time! and Family Dance — are equally delightful, and all of them emphasize how important it is to enjoy music together as a family.

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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Rocket Ship Beach, Dan Zanes
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