Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 26, 2009

Dan Zanes and Friends

Fine Arts Center, Amherst, MA
by Eric Sutter

Dan Zanes and Friends brought their rollicking rollercoaster of musical fun into the Fine Arts Center for the entertainment of area families. Zanes is a multi-instrumentalist who fronted the 80's rock band the Del Fuegos. The new century has brought him into the children's music market where he has found success with numerous family friendly folk recordings that combine Latin, Cajun/Zydeco, Celtic, Bluegrass, Country, Blues and Rock synthesized into fun world-beat music. The colorful costumed six-piece band rocked with the opener, "Thrift Shop." Zanes was in fine form with vestiges of his Rock n' Roll moves still intact. They shifted to a Cajun/Zydeco rhythm on "Fine Friends" with John Fonti on accordion and Elena Moonpark on violin. "Pay Me My Money Down" found Zanes on mandolin with a bluesy folk harmonica solo as the audience sang along. His banjo provided a hoedown feel to the sea shanty "Farewell Nova Scotia." The folk gospel "Welcome Table" featured ukuleles and the children from the Prelude Pre-School of the Arts daycare who appeared on stage to sing along. "Jump Up" started the audience dancing. The acoustic band could play everything from Puerto Rican Christmas songs to Jugband music, which featured spoons and the stand-up bass.

Silly songs like "Mole in the Ground" and "Monkey's Wedding" caused wild dancing with drummer Colin Brooks' drumstick catches at songs' end. "Halloweentown" was seasonally fun with a Celtic recorder solo. Zanes played Rock n' Roll electric guitar behind his head on "Walking the Dog." The fun multiplied with "Catch That Train" as audience participation resulted in the "Locomotion" dance up and down the aisles. The funky "House Party Time" made it feel like a neighborhood block party. The Mexican folk song "Verde Luz" calmed the children as bubbles were blown into the audience. A flashing lighted disco ball upped the energy with dancing "All Around the Kitchen" and singing "Cock-a-doodle-doo." The group closed with "Bye Bye Roseanna" as they waltzed into the audience with all who swayed to and fro.