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Ex-Rocker Zanes Happy Doing Family Music

Of the Oakland Press

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When Dan Zanes, onetime frontman of Boston rockers the Del Fuegos, decided to concentrate on making children’s music, he says that “a lot of people felt sorry for me.”

“They thought I’d be singing songs about learning to tie shoes or something,” Zanes, 45, says with a laugh. “That was never my intention. Now when people hear the term ‘family music,’ they realize it can mean almost anything, so at least the perception of what I do has changed a bit.”

Zanes has turned “family music” into an active and ambitious concern, cranking out seven albums since 2001 — the latest is the rootsy, populistthemed “Catch That Train!” — that have included a variety of guests such as Sheryl Crow, Rosanne Cash, Loudon Wainwright III, Nick Cave and Philip Glass. Zanes, who has a 12-year-old daughter, says the point of all his albums is to find a way to bind parents and children together through music.

“We’re always thinking we have to set a good example for our children,” he explains. “Having fun, as much fun every day as possible, that’s a good example to set. Music is an easy way to have fun,

“For me, underneath all of this is the idea that anybody can do it. We live in these insane, challenging times. ... The idea we can get together with each other and play music restores the

spirit and gives a sense of life’s possibilities. It transcends political differences and just gives a real sense of the best of what could be.

“That’s really the bottom line.”

And, Zanes adds, it’s also the reason you won’t see him starting another rock band any time soon.

“It never even crossed my mind to go back into that world,” he says, “because all the energy and musical creativity is at a much, much higher level now than it ever was. I’m more satisfied than I’ve ever been, and I get a lot more engaged now than I used to be.

“What I’m doing now is so great. I just have no desire to do anything else right now.”

Dan Zanes & Friends performs at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Friday (November 17th) as part of Macy’s American Music Fridays at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit. The shows are included with museum admission. Call or visit www.dia.org. Zanes & Friends also perform at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday (November 18th) at Rackham Hall, 915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $16 adults, $8 children. Call (734) 764-2538 or visit www.ums.org.

Web Site: www.dia.org

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