Six Questions With Dan Blakeslee & The Calabash Club
Welcome to “Six Questions With…,” a series of interviews with emerging artists, musicians, and bands focusing on the music scene and how they live within it. It started as a quick, fun project, but has quickly gained serious interest, so we’re making this a permanent feature on the site. Over time, the questions may change, but the sentiment will stay intact. This is a way for independent artists to be discovered by new fans on a global scale.
Within in each post, you will find all of their social media links, and also either a link to their music, or the ability to stream at least one of their tracks or videos, depending on the availability.
We hope you enjoy this series, and if you know anyone that might be interested in being part of it, please have them reach out to us for more information.
Next in the hot seat is Providence-based indie folk singer Dan Blakeslee of Dan Blakeslee & The Calabash Club. We have not yet featured Dan Blakeslee here on the pages of Indie Minded, so we are thrilled to bring you this short interview. If you’re not familiar with him, sit back and enjoy! This is what is great about this series – the discovery of new music.
For those who may not be familiar, please tell us about your music: the type of music you play, where you are from, and how you got started?
Every song I write stems from real life experiences– the good, bad, the weird, and everything in between. Stepping out of the house and venturing out is an important part of my songwriting process. I never force a song. If it comes to me in a year, so be it. I let it naturally evolve. I spread myself across a few different genre’s mostly folk, country, and rock, but I also make art for a living. I grew up on a farm in South Berwick, Maine, with a house full of musical instruments and a barn full of animals. Looking back, I don’t think they appreciated the drum set we kept in the barn that I would play every day after school. Eventually, I went to art school in Baltimore and began playing on street corners. My music career really began when the employer of the lobster restaurant I worked at refused to hire me for another season– he saw how passionate I was about writing and performing my songs, so he helped me get a roadworthy guitar and urged me to pursue music.
As an artist, how do you define success?
The moment someone listens to a song and gets it. Even though it may have a different meaning to them than what I had in mind when writing it. At shows, it’s not the number of people who attend the performance, it’s who gives the music a chance and listens deeply. To this day, one of my favorite shows was about twenty years ago– I was the last act at a Fall Festival at The University of New Hampshire. There was an absolute downpour for about an hour and everyone scattered before I had a chance to take the stage. I still wanted to play though, so I went in the water drenched tent and plugged in, with no sound engineer and no lights, and began to play to no one. All of the sudden, eight people with umbrellas came across the field into the tent — and took in every note, every word. I was mesmerized by the energy of that night.
What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?
My main struggle is finishing one task to completion and then going on to the next. Especially on the verge of releasing a new album (like now). So many things must be done– copyrighting, BMI submission, booking shows, making posters, promoting the shows on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., writing press releases, updating the website, sending out radio promo. It might sound boring, but it’s so important! Once the tour begins, I usually let out some kicks on stage as I am ready to explode (in a good way)… just eager to get out from behind the desk!
If you could only play ONE of your songs for the rest of your career, which one would it be?
It would take me a lifetime to choose but since we are tight on time, “My Lightning Valentino.” It’s a narrative song of mine pulled from a story I overheard in a tavern in Jackson, NH about a white steed named Valentino. The horse succumbs to death slowly over two years after enduring a rattlesnake bite. I asked the guy to embellish the story for me and for over an hour, I was hooked on his every word. I couldn’t sleep a wink that night, so ended up writing this song.
Who do you consider your greatest influences?
Michael Hurley, Johnny Cash, and Nick Drake. Hurley’s music taps into so many different genres and he doesn’t let anyone dictate his writing. It’s so free and reminds me I can write about whatever the hell I want to! I’ve been completely enamored with Cash ever since the first time I heard him. Talk about real, genuine, a man of the “people.” His music is great for every mood. Lastly, Drake. He’s a superb guitar player and lyricist and has incredible audible textures he creates. It really still baffles me how music so profound as he got lost in the times.
Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?
Art, going for walks in nature, watching musical comrades, and wanting to climb buildings after seeing them perform. When I get inspired, it hits me hard! I am a frequenter of flea markets and antique shops too. I admire the craftsmanship and when people pour love and labor into the things they create. Also, I am an avid film documentary buff.