When questioned about his musical heroes as younger artist, Mark Erelli would dutifully rattle off names like Jackson Browne and John Hiattthe sort of emotionally literate lyricist and soulful vocalist to which he was oft-compared. But Erelli would always throw the interviewer a curveball by also listing musicians like David Lindley and Ry Cooder, two sidemen closely associated with Browne and Hiatt's best albums. "As a teenager I sat in front of my stereo for hours, in hopes of learning to write songs like that," remembers Erelli, "but I also tried to learn the guitar solos on those records note for note."
Thousands of musical miles later, Mark Erelli now travels his own road that both embodies and challenges our expectations of a singer/songwriter. Erelli has tackled everything from western swing and protest songs to lullabies and murder ballads, all in a richly expressive voice that Twangville.com heralds as "the male counterpart to Neko Case." It is a journey that has taken Erelli from church basement coffeehouses to the main stage of the Newport Folk Festival, stopping briefly along the way to sing the national anthem at Fenway Park.
Erelli still indulges that teenage fascination with the guitar solos, though it has evolved into a career as an in-demand multi-instrumentalist sideman. These days, fans are just as likely to find Erelli backing up Lori McKenna at the Grand Ole Opry, or Josh Ritter at London's Royal Albert Hall, as they are to see a solo acoustic performance at venerable listening rooms like Harvard Square's Club Passim. Some might see chasing both a timeless lyric and an exquisite lap steel guitar solo as mutually exclusive endeavors, but not Erelli.
"Every time I accompany a great songwriter, I have the best seat in the house," Erelli explains. "I see how these amazing artists connect with their songs and their audiences from a unique vantage point. For me, every sideman gig is a Master Class, and it makes me a better musician and songwriter."
The last year alone has seen Erelli fronting the bluegrass band Barnstar!, backing up Grammy Award-winning songwriters like Paula Cole, or branching into the producer role for Lori McKenna's next record, in between performing solo shows everywhere from New England to Nebraska. For casual listeners that prefer artists who churn out variations on the same theme year after year, Mark Erelli presents a bit of a dilemma.
"I don't know anyone who likes just one type of music," counters Erelli. "There are so many people that would jump at the chance to play music for a living. I'm lucky enough to actually get to do it, and I intend to follow it wherever it leads me." It's just that kind of attitude that may someday find a teenager listening intently to one of Mark Erelli's songs blaring out of stereo, trying to figure out how he did it all, and did it all so well.
Dan Blakeslee opens
While attending art school in Baltimore, Maryland Dan Blakeslee, a Maine native discovered that he had an equal and deeply rooted connection to music. He would sneak into the galleries to play his guitar through the late hours of the evening surrounded by easels and oil paintings. After four years in "Charm City" he returned to his childhood home in the Tatnic Woods of South Berwick, ME. That summer he played street corners in New Hampshire and Maine while working at a lobster restaurant. His employer urged him to sever ties to manual labor for one of a more musical nature. A phone call from a friend offering him a room in Somerville, MA began his journey south in 1995. While settling into this artful community he began to practice his craft in the smoke laden subways of Boston. He now has been making music and art in the New England region ever since, leading him to tour the U.S. and abroad. He has performed with The Low Anthem, David Wax Museum, The Lumineers, Deer Tick, Liam Finn, Brown Bird, Joe Fletcher, Jonah Tolchin, Pearl and the Beard, Will Dailey, Death Vessel and Kimya Dawson to name a few.
Blakeslee has five albums under his belt. The last two recorded by long time art school friend Ron Harrity ( Peapod Recordings). The first of the two "Lincoln Street Roughs" was recorded in a warehouse called The Map Room in Portland, Maine in 2007. The most recent album "Tatnic Tales" was released on May 10, 2011. It is a collection of Blakeslee's country folk songs most stemming from real life experiences. This album features his band The Calabash Club who formed in a Dover, NH basement in October of 2008. The members: Mike Effenberger piano, Nick Phaneuf bass, and Jim Rudolf drums; are the essential ingredients in this acoustic folk outfit. "Tatnic Tales" was recorded in Dean Ludingtons barn in North Berwick, ME by the railroad as the friendship between the members of the band bloomed. "Tatnic" is the first full length album the band has recorded together to date. Blakeslee's next album "Owed To The Tanglin' Wind" being recorded at the Columbus Theatre in Providence, RI will surface in the late spring of 2013 with tours of the U.S and Europe to follow it's release.
The hills and highways are made for wandering, this has been deep rooted in Dan Blakeslee who performs an average of 200 shows per year. In a gymnasium at Laconia Prison (NH) in 2005, a crowd of 150 inmates became hushed after hearing Blakeslee's songs of hardship, hope and true grit. Late winter of 2006 brought a string of 27 shows with Tiger Saw (Dylan Metrano, Alan Bull, Angel Deradoorian (Dirty Projectors)) to the southern US and straight up the Mississippi River igniting his passion to continue on this path. Upon returning from the 110 mile journey by foot on the Massachusetts Walking Tour in June of 2012 Blakeslee mapped out a tour of a different shape slated for the fall of that year. This venture spanned 7 states, with Blakeslee performing 31 shows in 25 days as his alter ego "Doctor Gasp" making a connect the dots Jack-O-Lantern face on a map of New England. 2013 will bring him to Austin, TX in March for SXSW followed by a tour with his band "The Calabash Club" in late June. In early September will be making his way overseas for the first time doing a European Tour with Jenee Halstead.
A prolific artist, Dan Blakeslee has made over 600 rock posters in his career some of which are featured in the book "Art of Modern Rock" published by Chronicle Books. He has done album covers for dozens of bands including Assembly of Dust, Slaid Cleaves, The Tan Vampires, Jonah Tolchin and many more. After seeing his posters, The Portsmouth Brewery (NH) asked Blakeslee to draft 8 beer label designs and the Northampton Brewery (MA) followed soon after commissioning him to make a label six pack design. His beer label art has garnered national recognition with the Alchemist Brewery's (VT) "Heady Topper" in 2012. His silk screened posters will be traveling the USA in the "National Poster Retrospecticus" in 2013 curated by the LAP Gallery.
me and thee coffeehouse (View)
28 Mugford St
Marblehead, MA 01945