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2 Favorite Folk Singers and 1 Fantastic Venue {Part One}


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Our family has a slight obsession with good folk music.

I love these words from Ruth Crawford Seeger, in her wonderfully helpful book American Folksongs For Children

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Many of us open a savings account at the bank when a child is born, and add layer after layer of small deposits which he can later draw on for a college education.  Perhaps a fund of songs might be begun as early, and added to layer after layer–an ever-growing wealth of materials which he can draw on at will and can take along with him as links from himself to the various aspects of the culture he will be going out to meet.

I’d love to tell you a bit about two of our very favorite family folk singers (reminds me of the Von Trapp Family Singers!), and our new favorite concert venue.

This summer, our family enjoyed the privilege of seeing both of these amazingly talented artists perform live.

And “seeing” isn’t quite the right word to describe our experience–more like “participating,” as both concerts involved much singing, dancing, clapping and laughing on the part of the concert-goers.

If you’re in the market for excellent music to inspire your children (and yourself!), or you’re in search of a great gift for a child or a family you love, look no further.

Favorite Family Folk Singer #1: Liz Mitchell

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LOVE, love, love all her stuff!  I listed several of our favorite CD’s of hers here: Favorite Albums for Family Listening.

Favorite Album:  Our favorite Liz Mitchell album is probably still You Are My Little Bird

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, but some of our favorite Liz Mitchell songs are found on each of the other CD’s.
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Family Band:  One of the cool things about Liz Mitchell is that her husband Dan and daughter Storey sing and play with her on all the family albums.  (They really are sort of like the Von Trapp Family Singers!)

Together, they’re called You are My Flower, which is also the name of one of their CD’s.

Dan Littleton:  Her husband is super-talented and we love his voice.  He’s really funny, too.  Incidentally, they were both part of an indie rock band for grown-ups before venturing into the world of family music.  I think their band Ida came first, before they starting doing music for kids.

Other interesting trivia:

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–Liz Mitchell was a preschool teacher in New York City, which is where she discovered her love of making music with children.

–She was the first children’s music artist to sign with Smithsonian Folkways in the 21st century.

–Storey plays a banjo that looks like an apple.

–Mitchell was influenced greatly by the legendary Woody Guthrie.  Most of her albums contain at least one of his songs, and there is one entire album–Little Seed–that consists exclusively of his excellent songs for kids.

Official Website

Check out her official website for more details: Elizabeth Mitchell and You are My Flower.  The site has fantastic information, lyrics, pictures and even a few full length songs and one video for your listening and viewing pleasure.


Favorite Family Folk Singer #2: Dan Zanes

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Rock Star:  With hair that stands up and sticks out all over and a penchant for brightly colored suits, along with a million dollar smile and deeply etched laugh lines, Dan Zanes is just as interesting to look at as he is to listen to.

The Albums:  His albums are too numerous to mention here; we’ve loved every one we’ve ever listened to.  He also has a great Pandora station. 🙂  

Our current favorite is Little Nut Tree

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.  We recently purchased Sea Music, just because it contains a favorite song–Strike the Bell.  He won a Grammy for Catch That Train!
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and earned a separate nomination for House Party. 

Great Music:  It’s been said that the “kids’ music” made by Dan Zanes is so great because it’s not really kids’ music.  It is simply great music–“music that’s unsanitized, unpasteurized, that’s organic even,” according to the New York Times.

Party Time:  It’s rare to hear Dan Zanes sing alone; he’s a guy who loves a party.  He’s collaborated with countless musicians, and this variety adds a real richness to his albums.  Our family had the privilege of seeing Dan Zanes in concert recently, and were amused to see that while he traveled without his band, he still brought along another singer: his 11 year old neighbor and friend–who wasn’t even that great of a vocalist!

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His Mission:  Dan Zanes wants people–famous people, regular people, young people, old people–to sing and dance and enjoy long forgotten songs that are still great.  Which, in a nutshell, kind of summarizes folk music, no?

His Other Band:  Like Liz Mitchell, Dan Zanes also belonged to another band before he got into family music.  The Del Fuegos seem to have enjoyed a brief period of popularity during the 1980’s, with their garage-style pop rock music.

Website:  Check out the official Dan Zanes website for info about all his CD’s, lots of pictures, lyrics, videos, song samples, band bios and more.

Wait, There’s More…

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Imagine our great delight to learn, at that same Dan Zanes concert we just attended, that he and Liz Mitchell are about to release an album TOGETHER!

Our two favorite folk singers, singing together on one album.

Turn Turn Turn

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comes out August 27th, 2013, but you can pre-order it on Amazon.

We almost bought it at the concert, but didn’t…Now I’m kind of wishing we had!


For the Locals

If you live in or near Northern Virginia / Washington, D.C., stay tuned for my review and recommendations concerning our very favorite concert venue, where you can see (and participate with) Liz Mitchell and her family, Dan Zanes and many other wonderful musicians live and in the flesh.

I’ll tell you all about it in  Here it is:  2 Favorite Folk Singers and 1 Fantastic Venue {Part Two}


Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Mitchell and Dan Zanes.


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Kathleen | Roots & Boots

Let's get real! I’m Kathleen Henderson, your Natural Living Mentor. I’m on a mission to help families see the joy in real food, while finding natural remedies and creating a nontoxic home. Learn more about my story >>

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