the dan zanes holiday gift guide

hello friends, neighbors who want to give the gift of 21st century all-ages social music but don’t know where to start,

it’s come to my attention this year, the 10th anniversary of festival five records, that in our efforts to supply the world with as much family music as humanly possible we may have actually created a sense of consumer confusion and purchasing paralysis!

in order to help those holiday gift givers in need i have taken it upon myself to organize a shoppers guide in which the music, books, and dvds of dan zanes and friends may actually be explained. please bear in mind that everything on this list has been created with the all-ages audience in mind. in other words, things might veer more towards young people at times and more towards the oldsters at other times but we love the shared experience and aim never to leave anyone behind. you’ll never have to ask “should i give family dance to uncle isak or young shawana?” again.

ROCKET SHIP BEACH (2000) – the first dzaf cd. my label, festival five records, was in it’s infancy so why not give this to…an infant!

FAMILY DANCE (2001) – this was when we discovered that everybody likes to dance. recommended for people who have learned how to walk.

NIGHTTIME! (2002) – this was when we needed to calm down a bit  but it was also the year that we started touring. singing and dancing was seen as the way to create an instant sense of community. this cd is pretty good dinner music, do you have people on your list who burst into song during mealtimes? i would recommend you give them a copy.

HOUSE PARTY TIME (2003) – i could never figure out who was more impressed by grammy nominations, 3 year olds or 9 year olds or 35 year olds. i’ll leave it up to you to decide and maybe you’ll want to give them this grammy nominated neo-jugband party cd. we were starting to expand our musical vision, this contains some of our most mature, and immature, music.

SEA MUSIC (2004) – this is where we took a very salty turn! sea music is one of our best loved cds – suitable for aunts, uncles, teachers, cabin mates, and all lovers of things oceanic. sea music contains references to drowning, talking fish, drinking, bad weather, and other occupational hazards.

PARADES AND PANORAMAS (2005)- another trip in the trad direction, this time a celebration of the music contained in poet carl sandburg’s landmark 1927 songbook called the american songbag.  with the effort it took to corral 25 songs, dozens of fun-loving musicians with their soulful sounds, and astrid lewis reedy’s most inspired graphics into one package, this one almost did us in. suitable for carl sandburg fans (of course), roots music loving grandparents, week-old babies, and everyone in between.

CATCH THAT TRAIN (2007) – a grammy winner so i think that means you can give it to anyone. in my opinion the most well rounded of the family cds to date. probably a good one for the family that hasn’t heard dzaf before.

BAM BAM DIDDLY (FATHER GOOSE) – after shining moments on all of the dzaf cds it was clearly time for father goose to step out and claim his share of the limelight. this is where brooklyn and jamaica intersect for an all-ages all day and all night stoop party (sounds like ad copy but it’s true!). families with any carribbean members or friends dig this but you can give it to anyone and they’ll thank you. my all-time favorite family recording.

¡NUEVA YORK! (2008) – how else could we follow up a grammy winner but to collaborate with our latino friends and celebrate the music of latin america? it was time to get serious about singing in spanish! i really questioned my sanity at a certain point, how did i think i could do this? my spanish is not always beautiful but my friends all came through on this cd and it’s one of my proudest achievements in the catalogue. for the young person listening to the mean spirited conversations in the media about immigrants and immigration here is the sound of a bright future where music builds the bridges, we walk across, and it’s a big bilingual party! this is perfect for anyone who loves the spanish language and is trying to have a worldly household.

THE WELCOME TABLE (2009) – a collection of new and previously released gospel songs. we made this to benefit the new sanctuaury movement, a coalition of interfaith religious leaders and participating congregations, called by their faith to respond actively and publicly to the suffering of our immigrant brothers and sisters residing in the united states.

76 TROMBONES (2010) – songs from musical theater? why, yes. recommended for people who love to hear amazingly crafted songs broken down to their bare elements and reconstructed with pieces of driftwood and bent nails. a good one for all show people, young and old.

(PICTURE BOOK) – a picture book illustrated by donald saaf who also created the paintings in our first 5 family cds. this is based on the lyrics to the song hello. i would recommend this to all people who love picture books and donald saaf and the word hello.

JUMP UP! (PICTURE BOOK) – in the style of hello hello, this is my favorite of the two because donald saaf, who is artful and soulful all the time, just gets better and better! each book contains a 5 song cd with lyrics and chords. i was amazed that donald was able to construct not one but 2 books in a fold out style. each page contains a surprise when you open the flap. be aware that you can’t do this with kindles…

ALL AROUND THE KITCHEN (DVD 2006) – a collection of videos and a live concert with the original line up of dzaf including barbara brousal, cynthia hopkins, yoshi waki, colin brooks, and father goose. recommended for people who love watching music with their kids. and their kids. and grandparents.

THE FINE FRIENDS ARE HERE (DVD 2010) – 3 more videos and live concert which is more like a crazy party than anything else. this one features the current line up of dzaf including colin brooks, sonia de los santos, elena moon park, saskia sunshine lane, with special guests john foti, cyclone, and caridad de la luz aka la bruja. i think this is the best thing we’ve ever shot. recommended for family bands who like to sit back and watch other people play music after a long day of making their own family band music.

i hope that this clears up any shopping confusion you may have experienced! in the event that nothing here fits the bill, you could always wander on over to the dzaf general store for t-shirts, gold lame leggings, prints, hoodies, and gift certificates- wit
h free shipping on all.

i’m wishing you all a peaceful and musical holiday season.