Dan Zanes and Friends

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Dan Zanes and Friends
Also known as Dan Zanes and Festival Five Folk
Origin New York City, New York, USA
Genres Children's music, folk rock, bluegrass, alternative country, jazz
Years active 1999-present
Labels Festival Five Records
Website DanZanes.com
Members Dan Zanes
Colin Brooks
John Foti
Saskia Sunshine Lane
Elena Moon Park
Wayne Rhoden ("Rankin Don"/"Father Goose")
Sonia de los Santos
Past members Barbara Brousal
Cynthia Hopkins
Yoshi Waki

Dan Zanes and Friends is a popular children's music band with front man Dan Zanes.


When Dan Zanes and his wife had a baby, they moved to New York City. Zanes subsequently began playing music with a group of fathers that he had met in West Village playgrounds who were also there with their kids. These fathers playing music together eventually became The Wonderland String Band, which played at parks and parties and on a tape of songs that Zanes recorded at his home.

The tape was a hit locally—i.e. on the playgrounds where he and his daughter played—and Zanes realized that he liked making music that families could enjoy together, as opposed to music that is just for children or just for adults. So, he added a small number of women to his band ("I realized I was ignoring half my audience, he recalls"), renamed it the Rocket Ship Revue, and began making a full-length homemade album, enlisting the help of some people he had met when he was a Del Fuego--Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega, and Simon Kirke, the drummer for Bad Company.

The album, Rocket Ship Beach, was also a hit. The New York Times Magazine called it "cool", and added, "Mostly, though, Zanes kids music works because it is not kids music; it's just music—-music that's unsanitized, unpasteurized, that's organic even." The second album, Family Dance (2001) is composed of dance songs from a wide variety of musical traditions and features Loudon Wainwright III and Rosanne Cash. The third recording, Night Time! (2002) is a little bit more mellow, maybe not bedtime music but at the very least dinner music; on it, Zanes collaborated with Aimee Mann, Lou Reed, John Doe, Dar Williams, and other established musicians.

The most recent album in the family series is House Party (2003), a rambunctious 20-song collection with a diverse instrumentation that, in addition to the usual guitars, banjos, upright bass and drums, includes such wild instruments as tuba, accordion, pump organ, djembe and saw. House Party was nominated for a Grammy in the Musical Album for Children category. Music video selections from the House Party album were played during the Disney Channel's morning program suite known as Playhouse Disney (now Disney Junior).


Reached #4 on the Billboard Kid Audio Charts, which studies sales of children's music releases
  • The Welcome Table (released in 2008)
  • ¡Nueva York! (released in 2008)
  • 76 Trombones (released in 2009)
  • Little Nut Tree (released in 2011)
  • Turn Turn Turn (released in 2013) Special guest: Elizabeth Mitchell
  • Get Loose and Get Together!: The Best of Dan Zanes (released in 2014)

Live albums[edit]

  • All Around the Kitchen! (released in 2005)
  • The Fine Friends Are Here! (released in 2009)

External links[edit]