Viva Dan Zanes: Rocker-dad now sings in Spanish too
Alexandra Zissu New York parents love them some Dan Zanes. His rootsy but rockin’ back-porch approach to music makes parenting more bearable. Plus as a Brooklyn dad to a 13-year-old girl, he’s one of us. Though Zanes is decidedly urban, his appeal is widespread enough for a national audience, and he performs around the country. His previous CD, Catch That Train!, won a Grammy. His latest, ¡Nueva York!, will be fêted with a concert May 17 at the HighLine Ballroom. Its tracks are all in Spanish, inspired by his time on the road, where Zanes says he has witnessed a transformation: “The culture of the U.S. is being revitalized by immigration. I’m so excited by it. Growing up in New Hampshire, the emphasis in school was always on Europe. There’s so much rich culture just to the south—the Caribbean, Mexico, and on down. That, coupled with the mean spirit of the immigration discussion, made it a great time to celebrate.” By celebrate he means cutting a record that would reflect this cultural shift, something he says that you’ll find missing from other family music “when you look at the racks at the record store.” He adds, “As an artist, I have a social responsibility to make music with a thought about the world around me. In that regard, I’m not joking when I said we just made a pro-immigration CD.” Of course, his audience requires that this “very personal” message be delivered with a dose of fun. And Zanes, who has been taking Spanish lessons, delivers. There’s undeniably something about a Latin rhythm that kids respond to. (A certain 2-year-old has been wiggling nonstop to ¡Nueva York!) “Young people are open-minded. They get past language, unfamiliar rhythms, and into the heart of it all.” Olé!