Thursday, January 1, 2009

'08 was great -- '09 is lookin' fine!

OK, so you may have lost some money or your job or your home or your faith in humanity in the economic freak-out this year, but even with all that, 2008 was a pretty remarkable year for some historically obvious reasons. I will focus on the not-so-obvious.

My eternal gratitude goes to all the people who booked me for a show and hosted us and made us dinner and gave us a place to rest. Many thanks to my lovely bride Jeni for her patience and awesome ability to book the shows. And I couldn't do any of this without the support of my big brother Dan -- everyone needs someone to look out for their best interests as he does mine.

Here is an incomplete list of some of my favorite moments and favorite discoveries from last year. First the numbers...

222 -- Number of shows in 2008

17,707 -- Number of miles on tour in 2008

48,600 -- Estimated number of audience members in 2008

Favorite career news: I have officially wangled out of my contract with Warner Brothers and am an independent artist again. Free at last, free at last!

Favorite news from a friend: My friend Annie gave birth at age 43 to her first child, Timmy. (This one just squeaked in under the wire, as he was born yesterday -- 12/31/08.)

Favorite new town we visited on tour: Tallahassee, FL. Aside from not recognizing an otherwise non-descript office building as the state capital, we were impressed with Tally! And the local paper ran a nice spread plugging the shows.

Favorite hotel: The Tulsa Doubletree. We slept on an inflatable bed in a meeting suite the size of our house! Great for hide & seek. An overbooked hotel worked in our favor.

Favorite gig: We played to about 3,000 people at Jiggle Jam -- the best family music festival in the country! Be there -- Memorial Day weekend in KC!

Favorite professional moment: Playing on stage at Jiggle Jam with my musical mentors John McCutcheon, Tom Chapin, and Trout Fishing in America.

Favorite interaction with an animal: At the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, we met a penguin up close, and it pecked at Lyda's shoe stings.

Favorite parent moment: (three-way tie) Watching Willa and Lyda hug and kiss; hearing Lyda read a book; and witnessing the sheer ecstasy on Lyda's face when she saw her favorite characters parading down main street at Disney World. (See entry on Disney World for Lyda's Disney recommendations.)

Favorite pic: Lyda in the cockpit of a 737-300 on our trip to Seattle. "May I see the plane's steering wheel?" she asked the friendly pilot. Ask and you shall receive.

Favorite free activity in Kansas City: The Lakeside Nature Center in Swope Park. Eagles, snakes, fish, and a snapping turtle the size of a snow tire.

Favorite new kids music: Brady Rymer and The Little Band That Could (self-titled album, nominated for a Grammy); Trout Fishing in America (Big Round World, nominated for a Grammy); Funky Mama's Moo Juice; oh yeah, and my new CD Upside Down (nearly nominated for a Grammy).

Favorite new adult music: Huh? There is new adult music. If it didn't come out before 2004 (the year Lyda was born), chances are I haven't heard it.

Favorite new venue that we played: The C.L. Hoover Opera House in Junction City, KS. They call it the "Jewel on the Prairie," and it is spectacular. Beautiful renovations and great sound. For you army folks getting transferred to Ft. Riley, fear not, Junction City is a cool little town with fun things to do.

Favorite library venue: (tie) The new Truman Forum at the Kansas City Plaza library is gorgeous (although the sounds issues need to be ironed out) and was host to 400 or so for my 10th anniversary concert. Thank you, April (who should get some sort of librarian award!). And every library should be so blessed as to have a space like Connor's Cove Children's Theater at Tulsa's Hardesty Regional Library. It's got a playful nautical theme and is perfectly appointed to be kid-friendly.

Favorite Lyda line: Looking sad and dejected one day, she said, "It's been such a long time since I've been to The White House. I think we need to go back."

Favorite Willa word: "Hoo-Hoo," which means peanut butter and jelly. Acquired from my peanut butter song.

Favorite chain restaurant on the road: Macaroni Grill. "The people are really nice here and the food is very good," says finicky food critic Lyda. You get to pick your own vegetarian pasta creation. And in some cities their house Chianti is discounted on Tuesdays. Wahoo! Everyone is happy.

Favorite new toy: Dowsing rods. Yes, the kind that people use in old frontier movies to find water and gold. Very cool, and they really work.

Forecast for 2009:
  • Tours planned for southern and northern Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, southern Indiana, Twin Cities, and points in between. Let us know if you want us to come to your town. Contact us.
  • The KC Jiggle Jam is set for Memorial Day weekend May 23-24. Check out the developments as they happen at Jiggle Jam. Dan Zanes & Friends will be here!
  • Great prosperity for all!
  • More reading!

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