NEW YORK -- Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell had been playing for only about 10 minutes when the stage was invaded.
The first to appear was a stuffed lamb. Then a cuddly dinosaur. Then all hell broke loose and kids on tiptoes were putting all sorts of beloved stuffed animals on the lip of the stage to get a better listen.
"Did they buy tickets?" Zanes happily teased from behind a guitar on New York University’s Skirball Center stage. "Actually, ponies and dinosaurs get in for free."
If most concerts these days are about twerking and pyrotechnics, a Zanes concert usually involves some gentle choo-choo dancing in the aisles, world beats and teddy bears. Plus, it’s often over by noon -- that’s when the target audience naps.
Zanes, a rail-thin, bushy-haired Grammy Award winner whom People magazine has called the "crown prince of contemporary kid’s music," is a former member of the 1980s band The Del Fuegos who turned to children’s music after the birth of his daughter.
He likes to call what he does "21st-century, all-ages, handmade social music," but everyone else calls them kiddie songs.
"I accept it. But I don’t think of it as children’s music," he said. "This is really music for everybody to sink their teeth into."