In some ways, nothing has changed for Dan Zanes since he was leading roots rock band the Del Fuegos in the 1980s. He’s still hitting the road with his group in a van, still playing shows where the audience fills up an enthusiastically bouncing mosh pit.
Except that these days, the mosh pit is filled with preschoolers. The roots rock has been replaced by infectious new versions of American folk and classic songs. And Zanes, whose closest brush with fame playing for adults was a couple songs that made the mid-section of the Billboard charts, is now a household name in family music, beloved by kids and parents grateful that they can actually enjoy the same music as their offspring.
“The hours are different, the band is better, but the spirit is the same,” says Zanes, 46, from a van heading to several New England concerts recently. “We’re playing music we have an emotional attachment to and we want everyone to be a part of it and have it feel like a party.”