Arts and Entertainment

Zanes packs fun, participation into Gusto Hour | APAC show

Dan Zanes, acclaimed by Time Magazine as the leading
Dan Zanes, acclaimed by Time Magazine as the leading 'Star of Kindie Rock,' is at the forefront of the current wave of independent children's music.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Music is all about the shared experience for Dan Zanes.

The children's entertainer and Grammy Award-winning musician looks to engage the audience in The Dan Zanes Song Gusto Hour at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Auburn Performing Arts Center, part of the Ave Kids Series.

Unlike many kid's concerts, the Gusto Hour provides an opportunity for audience participation, with a songbook featuring lyrics and music available for download at or Concert goers are encouraged to learn the songs and bring their own instruments to accompany Zanes.

"It's just another level of social music that I've been able to discover and bring to audiences," Zanes said.

Zanes, who first gained notoriety as the lead singer and guitarist with the 1980s rock band Del Fuegos, began doing music for children and families in the late '90s.

"I was trying to make it a shared experience," he said. "I wanted to try and make it an updated version of the Folkways music I used to listen to."

Initially, he said, he trotted out many of the classic folk songs, by Leadbelly and other artists, that inspired him.

"In the beginning it was much more about updating old songs," he said. "I never felt like the world needed a whole CD of Dan Zanes songs," he said. "A lot of those songs are really meant to be social and sung and danced to by groups of people."

Although he eventually begin recording his own compositions, Zanes said, he still covers the chestnuts on his albums.

Then, about a year ago, he stumbled on the notion of the Gusto Hour.

"Part of it was a way to get to more places. It didn't have to be as expensive as bringing the whole band," he said.

Zanes admits he didn't know what to expect from letting the audience participate at first.

"It was a little scary. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's been great," he said. "It's incredible, better than anything I could have imagined."

And passing along the idea that anyone can make music is the key for Zanes.

"Music is such a crucial part of early childhood," he said. "Sometimes we tend to leave it to the professionals. But the songs I do really make a point. Everybody can do it. No only can we make music, but when we do, our lives are richer and more exciting because of it."


Come sing and dance

• What: Auburn Ave Kids presents The Dan Zanes Song Gusto Hour.

• When: 3 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Auburn Performing Arts Center, 206 E St. NE

• Also: Join the pre-party from 2 to 3 p.m. in the lobby to make your own special musical instrument and snacks for purchase (courtesy of Auburn Youth Council).

• Tickets: $10. Call Auburn Parks, Arts & Recreation at 253-931-3043, Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to noon, or order online at

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