Festival Five Records was started in the year 2000 with three ideas in mind: one, we would make music that could be enjoyed by children and grown-ups together; two, we would try to reflect the sounds and stories of our varied and glorious neighborhoods; and three, do our best along the way to inspire people of all ages to make their own music.
Grammy Award Winner Dan Zanes occupies a unique place in American music–where sea shanties, English Music hall, play party songs, the spirit of early rock-n-roll, soul, North American and West Indian folk music collide. For the past 15 years, he has toured the world with his band, Dan Zanes and Friends, sharing handmade 21st century social music with enthusiastic crowds of kids and kid sympathizers.
From thrift shop basements to Carnegie hall, from Brooklyn to Bahrain, Zanes has been introducing new songs and reconnecting people to the forgotten music of the past. Referred to as “the family-music genre’s most outspoken and eloquent advocate” by Time Magazine, his critically-acclaimed music has been featured on Sesame Street, Playhouse Disney, Nickelodeon, HBO Family and Sprout. Over the course of 14 albums and 2 DVDs, he has collaborated with everyone from Philip Glass to Lou Reed to Angelique Kidjo to Natalie Merchant to The Blind Boys of Alabama.
Born in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1961, Zanes was a member of The Del Fuegos who released quite a few albums and toured heavily throughout the 1980s before spontaneously combusting in 1989. In 1994, he released his first solo album, Cool Down Time. Shortly after, he moved with his family to Brooklyn. In 2000, he released Rocket Ship Beach, which became an immediate hit in the family music scene in America. NPR called Zanes “The Gold Standard in kid’s music.” He has since released 14 CDs, 2 DVDs, and a pair of picture books, all for young audiences.
In the fall of 2017, Dan and his wife, Haitian-American jazz vocalist Music Therapist Claudia Eliaza, premiered Night Train 57: A Sensory Friendly Comic Folk Opera at The Kennedy Center. They’ll be touring this show, which is performed along with Mexican percussion player turned comic actor Yuriana Sobrino, throughout the next few years. Night Train 57 is the first piece of its kind to be commissioned by The Kennedy Center to be created, from the beginning, as a sensory friendly experience. Dan and Claudia believe that Sensory Friendly is the future of family entertainment and have committed to presenting all of their various performances in this inclusive manner. The soundtrack to the show is now available digitally and on CD.
Also in 2017, Dan released Lead Belly, Baby! on the Smithsonian/Folkways label, an album which celebrates the children’s music of his childhood inspiration Lead Belly – an artist he considers to be the Godfather of modern family music. In addition to Night Train performances, Dan, Claudia, and Pauline Jean will be singing songs from the Lead Belly, Baby! album as well as all of the hits.
In between tours, Zanes teaches guitar and ukulele on Sonic Junction, the leader in online instructional videos, has recently completed writing the songbook Dan Zanes’ House Party! A Family Roots Music Treasury for the Quarto Publishing Group, and listens obsessively to Haitian music.
Claudia Eliaza is an exuberant Haitian American songstress with a fragrantly rich voice that captivates her audience at large. Having performed at the world-famous Carnegie Hall, Claudia continues to perform in other prestigious venues such as, the Jazz Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg Russia, and the Berklee Performance Center. Claudia has sang and worked with legendary artists including, Barbara Morrison, Nancy King and Keith Lockhart. With outstanding success, Claudia has also toured within the US, England, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Ashdod Israel, Kenya Africa and all throughout Russia. Her passion for music reaches beyond her performance life. Claudia is a Board Certified Music Therapist in the Boston area where she directs the Music Therapy Program at Community Music Center of Boston. She believes that music has the power to break down walls and build bridges while fostering meaningful connections across generations.
Pauline Jean is a Haitian-American performing artist and humanitarian, PAULINE JEAN, is a captivating vocalist whose distinctive contralto and rousing melodies have caught the attention of audiences both young and old. Jean brings a refreshing sound to today’s music; creating an erudite blend of worldly jazz that draws from her Creole roots and integrates modern and traditional inflections. She has received considerable press globally from leading media publications such as DownBeat, Jazzwise, All About Jazz, World Music Report, and many more. Jean has been featured as a performer and bandleader at numerous prestigious festivals around the globe and has appeared in Barbados, The Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Haiti, Israel, Lebanon, Nevis Island, Russia, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the US Virgin Islands. She has also collaborated with esteemed literary
artist, Edwidge Danticat, and distinguished performers Denis Matsuev, Emeline Michel, and Wyclef Jean, among others. Her latest CD, NWAYO, was praised as “an amalgam of pure jazz vocalization steeped in Caribbean rhythm and soul” by AllAboutJazz.com and “extraordinary musicianship” by the World Music Report. Jean is featured on Grammy-winning artist Dan Zanes’ tribute album to blues icon Lead Belly on Smithsonian Folkways. Jean shares her perspectives on music and life as a musician through teaching private students and workshops for singers on all levels in the US and abroad. She travels to Haiti annually with a group of musicians, as part of the Experience Ayiti mission, to provide aid, master classes, free concerts, and instrument distribution throughout different regions of the island. Jean is a graduate from Berklee College of Music and an Artist-In-Residence with the Conservatory Lab Charter School’s, El Sistema music program in Boston. For more information about Jean, go to www.paulinejean.com.
Colin Brooks was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. He asked for and received his first drumset as a Christmas gift at the age of 7. He set about learning how to play by constant practice, jamming with his guitar playing father, and listening to and watching all of the drummers he saw on MTV back when they actually showed videos. He started his first proper band The Numbskulz at the age of 13 and turned professional by performing at all-ages local punk rock shows. He played in “too many different bands to remember” throughout high school in Little Rock, until shortly after graduating, he accepted touring jobs with the groups 2 Minutes Hate and Ho-Hum. After driving around the United States in a beat up vans for the better part of 5 years, he decided to move to Brooklyn in 1998 when a friend told him about an audition for a band called Skeleton Key. Since then, he has performed with many different local acts and singer-songwriters. He met Dan Zanes in 2004 and has been traveling the world drumming ever since.
Sonia de los Santos was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico and since 2007 has been touring the world, singing in English and Spanish, playing guitar, mandolin, and jarana, and lighting up the stage with Grammy Award winning group Dan Zanes And Friends. In 2015 she released her first solo family music album titled Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island a collection of songs that reflect her experiences growing up in Mexico, moving to another country, learning about other cultures, and in the process, feeling closer to her own heritage. This unique collection of old and new songs is a personal, and yet universal, musical story from this soulful and important new voice in family music, and the messages of joyful community music making and cultural bridge building will inspire and excite children and grown ups of all backgrounds. To learn more about Sonia and her first solo family album, visit her website: soniadelossantosmusic.com
Elena Moon Park is a musician and educator living in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Oak Ridge, TN, she studied anthropology and ethnomusicology at Northwestern University and completed her M.A. in Urban Policy from The New School in New York. Before moving to NYC, Elena served as a development consultant for grassroots social justice organizations on the south and west sides of Chicago. Today, she manages programs for Found Sound Nation, including the OneBeat international music exchange, and actively engages in outreach with youth arts groups across the United States. In 2012 Elena released Rabbit Days and Dumplings, an album for families featuring folk and children’s music from East Asia. Elena still finds the time to play fiddle, trumpet, mandolin, and sing with Dan Zanes and Friends on stages worldwide. rabbitdays.com
Yoshi Yaki Born in Fukuoka, Japan, Yoshi began to play jazz bass at age of 20. Over the next few years, he emerged as a sought-after accompanist, with regular appearances at jazz clubs in Tokyo. In 1996, he moved to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music, where he was given Outstanding Performer Award. After graduation, he was on the tour for two years with the National Tour Company of the Tony Awarded musical Fosse, . Yoshi currently lives in Brooklyn, New York and plays and tours with various groups in the city. He has appeared in several major New York venues and well known clubs such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Blue Note, Knitting Factory, and many more. Yoshi is featured on most of the Dan Zanes and Friends Albums including the Grammy award winning Catch that Train! as well as After Hours (Chihiro Yamanaka) which won the 23rd Japan Gold Disc Award for Jazz Album of the Year.