Dan Blakeslee: Tatnic Tales

Stabarific & I wandered out Sunday evening to enjoy the only pleasant time of day here during the sizzling Cambridge summer: the night.

We quaffed wheat beer and munched popcorn (covered in extra-butter) while enjoying Casablanca at the Brattle Theatre, Harvard Square’s local movie-house, then meandered to J.P Lick’s for some jimmied-up ice cream to compliment the steamy New England night.

Sitting in a pair of sticky metal chairs, kindly provided by the creamery, we watched the masses roam Massachusetts Avenue’s long and treacherous brick sidewalks. We faced Wigglesworth Hall, one of Harvard’s largest dormitories and one that houses strictly incoming freshmen, a cruel joke played on them given this stretch of road’s preponderance for wreaking of effluent.

Yet tonight there was no stench, a light breeze kept all but the lightest waft of fresh waffle cone from floating our way, and between our steel perch and the dangling feet of freshmen, cooling their heels out the open oculars of their stately abode, stood Dan Blakeslee, singer-songwriter, crooning to the wandering masses.

The wandering masses ignored him. A grizzled man slept, spooning a precariously overflowing trashcan, his worldly belongings stacked neatly beside his makeshift brick bed. A group of students paused to loudly pontificate upon the merits of extra calories, and rumbling herds of brooding vehicles stampeded though the square like spooked cattle.

Somewhere, over the wall, researchers were struggling to make important discoveries, and students faced-off in games of tackle football, romping down the same hallowed hallways once traversed by a young Billy Gates and Ted Kennedy.

The two of us sat alone, serenaded out front of our own private ice cream parlor, surrounded by stars and historic homes – empty but for their occupants.

And I thought, “yeah, this isn’t too bad”. The perfect music for the perfect evening.

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Dan Blakeslee’s 2011 album is named Tatnic Tales. As explained by Blakeslee:

[Dean Ludington’s] barn in North Berwick, Maine… is seated in a sprawling field by the railroad tracks. Five miles through the woods from here lies my childhood home of South Berwick. In between the two towns is a section of rolling hills, rock, and forest known as Tatnic. Though you won’t find it on a map its arresting beauty will command you to stop if you are traveling through.

The album was recorded in one of those old barns where you can scan the tree-line for bears and admire the flickering stars passing overhead – all from within the rainy comfort of the indoors. Walls are mostly suggested and cool breezes are permitted to traipse through the fields completely unfettered by board & batten.  Beards and boots the required wear.


Tatnic Tales reminds me of a simplified Widespread Panic, but a cool underground version one might find after traveling the wrong way down a narrow dirt road, out back behind a bootleggers shanty-distillery, a place where all the country neighbors come to relax and kick up dust with their friends.

If you are so inclined, Blakeslee has six albums for sale on his website, available also through Peapod Recordings and iTunes (below).

If you’re in Boston/Cambridge, MA tonight (July 10th, 2012), Dan will be playing at Club Passim in the heart of Harvard Square (47 Palmer Street, AKA Veggie Planet) at 7pm with The Denver Boot & Vudu Sister.

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Enjoy.

[itunes id=”393035882″].

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