Tuesday, December 12, 2006


One in a series of reviews of What I Have to Endure Sometimes to Get a Little Quiet.

I have now put up with about five years of entertainment aimed at kids, and I am ready to share my opinions.

Dan Zanes. Not only kind of cute, with the hair and the beautiful little bright-colored suits (the one above is an exception - usually he's in emerald green or mustard yellow), but also the songs are terrific. My taste in music usually requires something hard, or fast, or seriously funky, but these are folkish songs that are funny and melodic and easy to sing along with. They play interesting selections from the old-time songbooks, like Washington at Valley Forge and The Sidewalks of New York, as well as their own compositions and cleaned-up versions of old roadhouse tunes.

Most importantly, the band is made up of musicians, people who know their instruments really well and aren't afraid of key changes and non- 4/4 time. You know how even the most pleasant children's music eventually makes your eyes roll back in your head? That's because they use the same 5 chords to play 25 2-minute songs. These guys don't do that.

Dan and his brother were in the Del Fuegos, whom I saw in Cleveland's Flats one unbelievably rainy night opening for Nick Lowe. I sort of stole a car to get to that show, come to think of it.

Um, anyway. Everybody with kids should have a copy of House Party. I've heard it hundreds of times and it always - always - makes me sing along. Does not hurt that people like Debbie Harry and Lou Reed and Angelique Kidjo chime in too. And it makes my kids jump on the bed and dance.