Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Somerville Musician Dan Blakeslee lives honestly and lives modestly.

Somerville Musician Dan Blakeslee lives honestly and lives modestly.

By Doug Holder

Somerville musician and artist Dan Blakeslee exudes a frenetic energy from his diminutive frame. No, he is not on drugs or booze. He told me that he doesn’t have a taste for either. But he is a man who obviously has a passion for his mission—that being his art. I met with him at the Saturday morning meeting of the Bagel Bards that meets at the Au Bon Pain in Davis Square.

Blakeslee lives in the Teele Square section of Somerville, Mass., but he is a native son of South Berwick, Maine. Although he has strayed from the ‘ville on more than one occasion; he is very happy to be smack dab in the “ Paris of New England.” Blakeslee said, “ I have grown as an artist here.” We discussed the fact that many artists of my acquaintance have defected to the wilds of Brooklyn and other places South of the Charles River. Blakeslee replied,” Somerville is my Brooklyn.”

I first encountered Blakeslee at a guitar contest that I was judging at the Bloc 11 CafĂ© in Union Square. I was impressed by the artistry of his guitar playing and the passion he brought to his songs. Blakeslee describes his music as “Modern Folk.” He said: “It is a hybrid between Country and Folk.” Being the Bard that I am I asked Blakeslee if he was inspired by any poets. He mentioned the poet Robert Dunn. “ I love wordplay, and Dunn is the king. He writes short and potent poems.” And of course Blakeslee is influenced by such iconic songwriters as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, to mention just a couple.

Blakeslee is an accomplished poster artist as well. He makes posters for any number of the gigs he has in clubs in the area. He said he has been influenced by the 1930s artist Rockwell Kent, who among other things was a draftsman and accomplished print maker.

Blakeslee who graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art , designs posters that are a mixture of the surrealistic and the comic.

Blakeslee has a new CD coming out of his music titled TATNIC TALES, based on a rural part of South Berwick, Maine, where he grew up. He said he and his fellow musicians recorded the CD in a bird-dung infested old barn. The CD will be released on June 13, 2010. On Oct. 6 Blakeslee will have a CD release concert at Club Passim in the Republic of Cambridge. And if you attend you can get a vinyl album available only at the concert.

I asked Blakeslee about his philosophy of life, he said: "Live honestly; Live modestly," and you know--I sort of think the man practices what he preaches.

Dan wrote the News:

Here are the lyrics to my song "On The Watch" which is on the album "Tatnic Tales" due out July 13th. It's the song I was describing to you of a real story that happened to me while playing a late night subway set down in Copley Station:


By Dan Blakeslee

Written on January 1, 2009

Last night I played deep in the tunnels of town.

Bear witness my trade if you took the rails underground.

The smoke and the signals they gave me a sign.

I'm far from the whispering pines.

Tonight I am stuck with luck being blind.

And I feel someone watching me.

A few stragglers hear that greed has me under its blade.

As my words fell so desperate those witnessing fade.

Just then a stinging scent took the room.

Of Listerine, oil and perfume.

Somewhere between darkness and doom.

I feel someone watching me.

In through the gate came an Indian tall as an oak.

Just a wandering drunk I though as he saw me and spoke.

"Surrender your song and your fortune too!"

As fury in my eyes it grew.

Then across the tracks came the boys in blue.
Which left no one watching me.

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