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'House Party' from Dan Zanes

From 1980 to the band's breakup in the early 1990s, singer-guitarist Dan Zanes fronted the Del Fuegos, a popular rock combo lauded by critics. In 1984, Rolling Stone magazine named them "Best New Band."

But after the band called it quits, Zanes and his wife withdrew to a small town in the Catskill Mountains, where he chopped wood, grew chard and raised a baby. The family recently moved to New York City, and one day Zanes was shopping for children's music.

But he tells Day to Day music critic Christian Bordal he just couldn't find the sound he was looking for — an updated version of the music Zanes grew up listening to, artists like Pete Seeger, Leadbelly, Ella Jenkins and Woody Guthrie. So he and some other dads started to create it themselves.

The project grew from impromptu jams to a studio album, House Party. But Zane says it's not children's music — he calls it "all-ages music," and adds that his new family-focused audience is a joy to play for. "Probably the most important thing is, there's no feeling of a wall between the band and the audience," he tells Bordal.

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Christian Bordal
Christian Bordal is a Norwegian-American (via Australia) musician, radio producer, and freelance music journalist who contributes regularly to Day to Day. He's very good at making faces and making a fool of himself, and he once impressed his NPR editors with a drunken recitation of the gibberish poem "Jabberwocky." He briefly considered launching a career performing at children's parties, but he finds his own children to be trouble enough. In addition to this list of remarkable professional accomplishments, he is a producer at member station KCRW in Los Angeles.