Dan Zanes is amazing.
His hair, the leg slide thing he does, his raspy voice, the musicians he surrounds himself with - all of it practically perfect in every way. The Fine Friends Are Here!, his latest live DVD release (on the delayed heels of 2005's fine All Around the Kitchen!), is no exception.
A Dan Zanes live performance is a winning combination of exuberance and warmth. Zanes himself provides the youthful energy, while the coziness is supplied by the Americana instrumentation and horns. You get the feeling, watching Zanes and his fine friends play, that that they'd feel just as at home inside the posh Lincoln Center as they would on your front porch. Since Jalopy's stage is about as big as the latter, it proves the perfect venue to intimately experience the music of Dan Zanes. Considering that there is ZERO chance of actually getting to see him live in such a small space, this new DVD is essential for any Zanes-head.
As with his prior DVD release, this one is a mixture of live show and a handful of videos. The videos are sprinkled throughout, a move that works rather well. Highlights include the faux-classroom fun of "Pollito Chicken" featuring La Bruja on vocals, the gorgeous lullaby "Night Owl" and the rollicking "Wabash Cannonball" with Zanes on banjo, proclaiming that "it's not a party until someone plays a banjo". This entire DVD is a party, one well worth the price of admission.
Note: There is also a bonus 4-song sleepytime CD included in the package.
*Dan Zanes & Friends "The Fine Friends Are Here" DVD was provided to OWTK for review. The opinions expressed above are unbiased and true - no arm twisting took place in the review process.