Creativity is no stranger to Dan Blakeslee; he’s as comfortable playing a song on a guitar as he is drawing elaborate pen and ink illustrations. He’s an accomplished musician and an extremely talented (and sought after) artist. His latest CD, Tatnic Tales, recorded in a barn in Maine has been called “a wide spectrum of folk brilliance.” Dan’s definitely a shining light in the greater Boston folk scene. He’s currently working on another recording and if I were a betting kind of girl, I’d say it’s sure to be equally as brilliant yet probably quite unique.
To learn more about Dan, check out his website.
Here’s a video of Dan singing “Picture in My Wallet.”
After reading up about you, it became apparent to me that you have a very clear sense of space and sound. Your videos that are shot in hallways, chapels, and barns are fascinating. Do you feel that each environment brings something different to the song and to your performance of it?
I love playing in unique spaces where you can get the energy of a room/environment. I also grew up on a farm and a lot of music was made in the barn so it kind of feels like home. When I lived behind Tufts University there were many late nights walking to that chapel on the hill to play for the stars.
Tell us about your art. I understand that you went to art school. What were your aspirations at the time (before you got so deeply involved in music)?
It was at art school when I was overloaded with art assignments I began to learn guitar as an escape. I love doing both art and music, right now the wind is telling me pursue the music, go on tour, see the world (it’s also telling me don’t forget to pack your art supplies).
What kind of music resonates with you? What were you listening to as a kid that motivated you to pick up the guitar?
I was always surrounded by music growing up on the farm. My Father was a working jazz musician but also had a country band on the side. My older brother who taught me my only music lesson (3 chords ) also introduced me to punk in 7th grade which floored me completely. My mother’s favorite record was Joni Mitchell’s Blue which was always on rotation as my little brother played classical piano. The cat played banjo, and the goat played the glockenspiel.
Speaking of your guitar…it’s most unusual looking. What’s its history?
I had gotten a new (used) guitar after mine fell out of a van (ow!). I had the new guitar for a month when I found myself in Burlington, VT for a show. It was 100 plus degrees outside so decided to go into a music store for some nice cool air (and to look at instruments — which was crazy cause I just got a new one). I saw the same make as my old guitar (the van story) hanging on the wall. I went to play it and I started sweating, knees turned to spaghetti, heart beating rapidly (pitter patter, pitter pat). So I eventually sold my new month old guitar for this guitar I currently play. I later carved an octopus pick guard for it. I am pretty sure I could paddle a canoe with it.
Do you carve time out of your weekly schedule to sit down and write? Or are you more carefree about your writing and wait for the muse to whisper to you?
I’ve never sat down with the purpose of writing a song. All the ones I have written come to me at random times and places. So if you see me singing to a river you know it’s helping me write a song.
You’ve got a real creative outlook — maybe this is part and parcel of your art school experience. For instance, I love the fact that you named your recent tour with Jonah “The Winter Whiskers Tour.” How perfect is that—two traveling musicians known for their distinctive facial hair as well as their rootsy music on tour together? Do you like coming up with concepts for your shows?
I like each show to be unique putting thought and creativity in each performance. and yes, at times I may go overboard with doing tours in shapes of Jack-O-Lanterns and such… but that’s a whole other story.
A Dan Blakeslee original inspired by the Boston Marathon tragedy of April 2013
What’s the longest tour you’ve ever undertaken? Do you have any wild and wacky tour stories you’d like to share?
A: This past tour was about a month and a half long. I got stranded in New Orleans twice (oh darn.) Hmmm… tour story fit to print… hmmm… My tour went from the Maine/Canadian border (Aroostook County) to the south back up to Illinois and back down to TX. So the temperature kept going from -14 to 75 degrees. I lost my winter coat. Went traveling in the cold north region again and needed a jacket so hit up the Salvation Army. The only one that fit is the exact same brand, color and cut as my tour mate’s jacket. It looked pretty ridiculous as he and I also had matching beards at the time (and charming wit). Oh plaid.
I understand that you have at least one other persona who makes music? Care to introduce us to him?
That fella really doesn’t fit in with the Americana, country, folk but if whoever is reading this really needs to know just type in “Dan Blakeslee Halloween” on an internet search. Good luck … and sorry.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I have a new album coming out later this year called Owed To The Tanglin’ Wind which was recorded at the Columbus Theatre in Providence, RI by the Low Anthem boys!