Grammy winning musician Dan Zanes has spent the past 20 years touring the world with his band, Dan Zanes and Friends, sharing handmade 21st century social music with enthusiastic crowds of kids and kid-sympathizers.
But in 2016, Dan met music therapist and jazz vocalist Claudia Eliza, and the two of them found making music together was really a great thing, inspired by their music. The Kennedy Center commissioned Claudia and Dan to create a theater piece for young audiences. “Night Train 57” premiered in October, 2017 and an award-winning song book entitled “Dan Zanes’ House Party!: A Family Roots Music Treasury,” was released in 2018.
In 2019, the couple were married and moved from Brooklyn to Baltimore. Dan and Claudia Zanes are releasing their first solo duo album, “Let Love Be Your Guide,” on September 10th. Here, they chat about their new record and their live-streaming album release party for it, happening at 7:30 p.m. Friday Sept. 10 at the Creative Alliance.
Lisa: So great that you are living here in charm city. Just makes the music scene all that much richer. How are you guys liking it?
Claudia: We we’ve never looked back, Lisa. We are so happy to be here. Like you said, there’s just so many wonderful creative beings here. So we feel like we landed in the best spot.
Lisa: Let’s talk about this amazing new recording. I just love it. It’s got kids. It’s got amazing artists. What was the inspiration? I know a lot is going on all around us in this world. Lots to be inspired by.
Dan: Oh yeah. I think it’s about joy – the joy of social living is the theme of the record. You know, everybody was under one roof, the dinner table conversation ran the range, you know, and everybody was in on it. So whether you were 3 or 90, everybody’s at the table together, really the old fashioned way, social living. So, you know, whether we’re talking about reparations, whether we’re talking about, we got to just get up and tickle some 3-year-olds, you know, whatever it is, that’s life, that’s communal life. That was the basis of the whole record. So it’s about that.
Lisa: Let’s talk about the title track, “Let Love Be Your Guide (for John Lewis).”
Claudia: We’re just deeply inspired by his lifestyle, his message. And you know, 2020 was filled with so many challenges, but with his passing, it was such a reminder to all of us about, you know, how are we going to show up in the world? What kind of world do we want to create? How can we be a part of the positive change? When we saw the funeral, we watched it and we read his op-ed that came out on the day of his funeral. And we were just deeply inspired by not only his words, but his lifestyle. He really lived this message. And so I’d like to say the song really wrote itself.
Lisa: You have some amazing musicians on this album. I personally know Baby Beats, Max Bent and Jamal Collier aka Mr. Root. How did you go about meeting all of these great musicians?
Claudia: It was the old fashioned way. You know, we were new to a city, but that’s the joy of being an artist too. I feel like we all have the same heartbeat. You come here and you reach out to one artist, they put you in touch with others. So it was really word of mouth. We cast a wide net and we just asked, we said, ‘We want to know what’s going on and we want to meet different musicians and artists.’ And I’d say everyone who we reached out to, got back to us and we got to create together.
Lisa: Can we talk about your song “Arriba Means Up?” It’s just so joyful.
Dan: There’s some times when we just have to tickle each other, you know, and that’s, that’s really what this song is about is acknowledging that sometimes we’ve just gotta cut loose, you know, and there has to be joy.
Lisa, you’ve known me for a long time, and I made a lot of records, but this for me is, is just by far the best thing I’ve ever been a part of, because of everything that Claudia brings to this, to the music making we do together, I’m just so grateful for that.
The album release show for “Let Love Be Your Guide” from Dan & Claudia Zanes is 7:30 p.m. Friday Sept. 10 — streaming LIVE from the Creative Alliance in Highlandtown. Virtual tickets are available here.