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The Dan Zanes Effect

posted Saturday May 14th, 2011

Today, Annabelle decided she’s not a little kid anymore.

Which would have been just fine, except today was the day that I had seats for the Dan Zanes concert. Front row center, purchased last October, right when the went on sale. Four tickets — one for each member of the family.

If you haven’t heard of Dan Zanes, you should — as long as your kid isn’t pre-prepubescent. In fact, even if you don’t have kids at all, you’ll like Dan Zanes. He makes the coolest kid music. So cool, I have to admit, that neither of me kids (nor my husband) likes him very much.

Who knew? We’ve had his videos and CDs for years, listened to him on the kids channel on satellite radio, even saw him in concert once already and had a blast. For me, it was a given. Who wouldn’t want to go a Dan Zanes concert?

Annabelle, that’s who. When she protested that that’s music for babies and reminded me it was several years since the last time we saw Dan Zanes and she was just a little girl then, I pointed out (perhaps not very kindly) that she does still enjoy Sesame Street.

She stood her ground — and I stood mine. Damn it, we were going to have a good time. In a rare moment of complete parental agreement, Ray and I decided we’d all go. He was an exceedingly good sport; til we got there.

And when we got there, and took our front row seats, even I had to admit something:

The parents like this music better than the kids do.

Pretty much to a person. Maybe it was because I was focused on the audience rather than the music, but I didn’t see one happy looking kid. Annabelle was right — she was way older than most of the other kids. And the toddlers all looked the way my kids looked. Like they were just putting up with it.

“Where are the characters?” Sophie wanted to know, before she put her hands over her ears and left them there.

The parents, on the other hand, they were in heaven. And who can blame them? When you listen to bands with names like The Wiggles and Ralph’s World all day,  you can use a break in the form of truly good music — great voices, hip performers, a variety of instruments. They even brought in a teenaged Latin jazz band to accompany Dan Zanes (who plays the harmonica, the Jew Harp, and a variety of stringed instruments, accompanied by horns, drums and an upright bass) and the kids just looked bored.

I stand by my taste, and I adore Dan Zanes. I enjoyed watching him perform today, sort of. Sophie and I stayed in the front row (she thought maybe he’d invite her on stage, a pleasure apparently reserved only for the kid of the owner of Fairytale Brownies, which had provided the band with a case or two of treats) while Annabelle and Ray slunk away a few rows. When Sophie and I got up to go to the bathroom, Ray caught my eye.

“Let’s go,” he mouthed.

The show wasn’t even half over. Annabelle was doodling on her program. Sophie tugged my hand. Ray was halfway to the exit. A song ended, another began. “House Party”. One of my favorites. Hadn’t we had about a million dance parties in the kitchen to this one? Maybe, a million years ago.

Sophie broke away and followed Ray. I stopped for one last look, and felt something tug on my dress. It was Annabelle.

“Let’s dance, Mommy,” she said, taking my hand and swinging it. We stood side by side, watching the band. I looked around at the bored kids and the exuberant parents and smiled down at Annabelle. What a kid — little or not.

“Let’s go,” I said. She didn’t look back.

They were selling tee shirts in the lobby. “Anyone want one?” I asked halfheartedly.

“Let’s not memorialize this day,” Ray said.

I know I’ll never forget it.

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Tags: Filed under: culture, music by Amysilverman

One Response to “The Dan Zanes Effect”

  1. I love Dan Zanes but I’ve never been a fan of concerts (too many people, not used to just sitting and listening to music). I know what you mean about the growing up thing – Kayli is entering puberty and it is an enlightening journey!

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