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Catch That Train

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iTunes Review

Repetition, repetition, repetition: it’s the cardinal rule of kids’ music, and the first one Dan Zanes lines up to break on this wide-ranging, musically adventurous album of spirituals, Zulu chants, sea shanties and shaggy-dog folk-rock. But then the former Del Fuegos frontman doesn’t make “kids’ music”, exactly; he makes “age-desegregated” music—meant for entire families, who don’t necessarily need to hear songs about ex-girlfriends and bars, on the one hand, or dinosaurs and fruit salads, on the other. Some of the musical pairings here are so unlikely as to be pure genius: the Kronos Quartet meets Leadbelly on “Grey Goose” while Nick Cave sounds positively cuddly on “Sweet Rosyanne”. Elsewhere, the Blind Boys of Alabama provide harmonies on the rousing gospel spiritual “Welcome Table” (nicely updated here with lyrics about the American civil rights movement) and Natalie Merchant guests on the lovely, lilting “Loch Lomond”. There are familiar voices from past Zanes albums, too, like Barbara Brousal’s vocals on the Spanish-language “Mariposa Olé” or Father Goose’s rowdy dancehall rhymes on “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” and “Pata Pata”. Cosmopolitan and rootsy at the same time, Catch That Train! doesn’t talk down to kids, because it’s not really talking to them at all—just making great music and hopefully inspiring families to cook up some of their own.


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 Zanes...
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Catch That Train, Dan Zanes
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