Another humbling evening

Posted by jdg | Tuesday, November 21, 2006 |

Friday night we took Juniper to the Detroit Institute of Arts for a free concert by this guy named Dan Zanes. Some of you may have heard of him. He sings earnest yet tolerable children's music. Judging by the hordes of hip, suburban parents and their offspring competing for floor space, Mr. Zanes (think Sideshow Bob after a thrift-store shopping spree) is quite popular. I embarrassed my wife by walking around saying things like, "Holy shit, I haven't seen this many white people in one place since we moved to Detroit!" and, "Well, we're about to have our Dan Zanes cherries popped. How do you feel about that?" and "Kid's music is kind of like Christian rock--- the bar sure is set considerably lower."

The concert was held in the Rivera court of the museum, a giant room covered in murals painted by Diego Rivera in 1932 when he came to Detroit weighing 316 pounds and ready to observe and paint the industry of what was then arguably the greatest city in North America. It took him 11 months and when he was done he'd lost 108 pounds. In 2001, I saw the White Stripes play two free sets in that beautiful room while Jack White's dozens of nieces and nephews ran around and danced with all of the hardcore Detroit hipsters who weren't already over the band by then. If I put my hands over my ears and squinted last Friday night, while I watched dozens of happy kids jumping and dancing around in front of the stage (including one young girl who did The Worm extremely well) I could almost imagine that amazing night five years ago.

Mr. Zanes was nice enough to acknowledge it was the most beautiful room he'd ever played. He and his "friends" played a lot of fun songs and the kids really had a good time. Juniper decided she enjoyed dancing, so much so that at one point she uncharacteristically wandered away from us leaning up against the wall and immersed herself in a crowd of dancing older kids:

We watched her with that clenched-throat terror that parents have when their baby is out of reach in a sea of writhing preschoolers, but she seemed to be getting along so well dancing with them I half expected to see her being passed above their heads, crowd surfing up to the stage. I left the show with several conclusions, presented here in no particular order: (1) kids are awesome dancers, especially very-excited little boys with bowl cuts; (2) you should use a quiet voice when talking about how easy it would be to steal Van Gogh's Portrait of Postman Roulin if you only had a Bugaboo stroller; (3) guys who write baby blogs shouldn't be too judgmental of guys who sing songs to dancing babies; (4) free Dan Zanes concerts are totally worth it; and (5) two of Dan Zanes' friends are kind of hot: