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A joyful afternoon with Dan and Claudia Zanes (#1218)

Topics/tags: Reviews, music

The other week, I attended an afternoon show with Dan and Claudia Zanes at Hancher Auditorium. That’s not to say that I went with the Zaneses. Rather, they were the performers; I went with friends from Grinnell.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I know Dan Zanes primarily from his days with Boston’s Del Fuegos, and it’s been a long time since I’ve listened to the Del Fuegos [1]. Zanes has been doing children’s albums for some time, but I recalled that he was playing broader folk shows these days.

When I arrived at Hancher, I was a bit surprised. The folks who were hanging around were older than I am. That can be a good sign. But I assumed that there would be kids, too. I needn’t have worried. Kids showed up, too. Then I worried that I hadn’t warned my friends that it might be children’s music.

The show was sold out. But they’d reduced seating at Hancher by moving the audience onto the stage. So it was like a small, intimate theatre [3]. And it was pretty clearly an all-ages children’s show. That is, most of the songs were intended to get the kids involved, such as through sing-alongs, hand motions, or dances. Aren’t we all kids at heart? Perhaps not, but most of the people there seemed to be.

There’s something incredibly joyous about participating in a sing-along, sign-along, clap-along, dance-along, multi-lingual folk show. Watching little ones participating enthusiastically made it even more joyful.

Don’t we all need such joy in our lives? I know that I do.

The show reminded me of my childhood; mom brought me to see shows like that. She would have loved it. I look forward to bringing grandkids to a show like that someday.

Dan and Claudia Zanes had spent the prior week at UIowa in a short residency. Claudia is a music therapist and worked with therapy groups there. They both seemed to have worked with some music groups. I’m not sure what else. So a bunch of people on in the audience knew them, and they had met a bunch of people in the audience. It made the show better, particularly when students they’d worked with joined in on performances or when they did callouts to people in the audience. I wish I’d known; I would have tried to sneak into one of the classes.

I also learned that Dan Zanes had done an extended visit a decade or so back, playing in a bunch of places across Iowa. I don’t think he made it to Grinnell. I wish he had. But he wrote a song inspired by the trip … While the Music is Playing. They ended the show with it.

I hope the Zaneses return to Iowa soon. I’ll definitely take in the show. And I’ll suggest that more friends attend. Perhaps we can even get Dan and Claudia to Grinnell next time.


Postscript: While it was a wonderful show, some parts made me sad. As I suggested, I missed having my mom there. She would have loved it and would have danced as much as any kid [4]. And I would have liked there to be room for more people; I was surprised at how few UIowa students were there, particularly given the residency.


Postscript: I often find similar joys in seeing one of Karin Stein’s shows. I was surprised not to see her there.


[1] Do folks remember the days of Del bands? The Del Fuegos, the Del Lords, Del Amitri, Del a Soul [2], more.

[2] Well, De La Soul, but it’s close enough.

[3] With a whole bunch of seats as the backdrop. Pretty lights, too.

[4] She probably would have forced me to participate more, too.


Version 1.0 of 2023-02-28.