Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Dan Zanes

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature -- if a bit longer than usual.

New Hampshire native son Dan Zanes was part of the 1980s garage band The Del Fuegos. Something about getting older does things to rock-and-rollers, especially when they have children of their own. They either end up like Ozzy Osbourne, or (we can only hope) like this guy, who is now the front man for the Grammy-winning Dan Zanes and Friends. Why? He explains in the first video.

I believe that every family should have its own band. I believe that every neighborhood should have its own series of bands. In other words, there should be bands everywhere ...

Once upon a time, I was in bands everywhere.

In the sixth grade, I played guitar for a garage band known as "David and the Dragons." No, I wasn't the David, that was the other guy, David Ziegenhardt, the drummer. (Our teacher said we should have been called "Dragon and the Davids." She had a point.) In high school, I played with a bunch of country rockers, and I'm not sure we even had a name, much less remember what it was. In college during the mid-1970s, I played with a contradance band known as the "Cincinnati Country Dance Orchestra." Later in the decade, I was half of the front end of "Alexander's Part Time Band" (a play on a ragtime tune of a similar name). I played guitar, clawhammer banjo, and mandolin; sister Mary played bluegrass banjo and guitar. Whoever could stand us at one time or another completed the setting, anywhere from one to three others. In the early 1980s, after moving from Ohio to DC, I played guitar and banjo for a trio that traveled with a clog-dance team. We called ourselves "The Stump Jumpers String Band." Our alternate name was "Men Without Taps." (It was the 80s, after all.)

My musical resumé after that is strictly solo. My luck with bands has been very uneven over the years. I have long envied those who succeed with family bands. I don't even think I had much luck dating musicians either. Neither is nearly as romantic as it seems.

Last night I was watching a movie on high-end cable. They usually fill the interim with short films and long advertisements. One of the former was a live-action-with-animation video of this band playing “Wonder Wheel.” I cannot find it, but I managed to find this performance at Battery Park in NYC last Fourth of July. Looking spontaneous can be fun, but it's harder to be in sync with each other.

And so it goes.

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