On an overcast morning in October, in front
of a brownstone in Cobble Hill, passersby were surprised to see
a dozen young kids, two trumpets, one trombone, an upright bass,
two flutes, percussion instruments, two saxophones, a large cow,
two pigmy goats, a sheep, a llama and some cameras.
Standing in the midst of this odd tableau - holding an acoustic guitar and sporting a wild orange suit and a huge smile - was musician Dan Zanes, who was shooting a video for his new song, "Holiday Time in Brooklyn."
"Dan has always been very involved in charity and in the community," said Zanes’s publicist Brian Shimkovitz, explaining the former Del Fuegos frontman’s latest stunt.
For this gig, Zanes teamed up with Heifer International, an organization that strives to end world hunger by encouraging donors to supply suffering people in 128 countries with livestock, a sustainable source of food (as opposed to merely giving short-term relief). For example, a goat, which provides a family with numerous quarts of milk, costs $120.
With the holidays approaching, Heifer International wanted a siren call to reawaken charitable spirits and reached out to Zanes for help.
So Dan wrote "Holiday Time in Brooklyn," to be used as an e-card to publicize Heifer International’s mission. The card was sent to past donors and is now on the Heifer International Web site for all to see.
Getting the kids to sing, play, record and make a video with this renowned, Grammy nominated children’s musician - author of several albums including "House Party" and the recently released "Catch That Train" - was the easy part.
"They just love him," said Roy Nathanson, member of the Jazz Passengers and long time friend of Zanes, as he watched his eight-year-old Gabriel proudly playing his trumpet. "To them, he’s like the Beatles."
And just in case Zanes alone wasn’t incentive enough to attract some kid musicians, the Heifer International video producers had a back-up plan: exotic animals.
"I had never seen a llama before," said Sammy Boyle, a trumpeter in the sixth grade. "It’s so cool!"
Zanes’s song ended with the question: "It’s holiday time in Brooklyn, what can you give?"
Perhaps this year, the answer might just be: a chicken, a rabbit, or even a cow.
To watch the "Holiday Time in Brooklyn" video and for more information about Heifer International, visit their Web site, www.heifer.org, or call (800) 422-0474.
©2006 Community News Group
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