Recorded “by a waterfall near the railroad tracks in Rollinsford, NH,” The Alley Walker, the newest album by Dan Blakeslee and the Calabash Club, is a bluesy, rock-and-roll twist on the beautifully-composed folk style that has become Blakeslee’s signature. Due for release on August 18, the album is a highly-awaited follow-up to 2014’s Owed to the Tanglin’ Wind, check out first single Lone Star , a strutting little number that will entice you into pressing play, again and again. It’s also our Song of the Day.
Dan shared the following about the song:
“I was headed from Boston to play SXSW in Austin, TX when my ride down fell through (which happened to also be my hotel room). Luckily, I managed to find a ride. When I arrived, 3 of my 7 shows had gotten canceled for various reasons and these were the main ones I was going down for, which would have paid for the whole trip. So yes, I was down and out in Austin. But much more than that, I had worked on a piece of art for someone for two months, that they promised they would pay me for (didn’t happen). So I took the gamble and went to Texas anyway, with my broken shoes, empty pockets and nowhere to sleep, except in the bushes and a friends van (and the wooden floor of a friend of a friend of a friend). I was in Austin for a total of 10 days and I had caught some sort of stomach flu while struggling just to get something to eat (with my lack of funds and loss of appetite). Finally, a friend of mine from a few towns over found out how bad things had gotten for me and took me to her farm and wouldn’t let me leave for a few days until I was back to health. I am so thankful for my beautiful friend.”
About The Alley Walker
Blakeslee and producer Chris Chase wanted the album to “capture the band how they sound live. Everyone in the room playing at the same time with natural swells, the safety off… and roll tape.” Band members Nick Phaneuf (bass), Jim Rudolf (drums), Mike Effenberger (piano and accordion) come together with Blakeslee to masterfully create this raw-yet-euphoric, richly-layered sound.
Every track on the album is a true-story glimpse into Blakeslee’s life and journey. The rock-country fabric of the album provides the perfect foundation for his beautiful method of storytelling. “Johnny and June” begins like a twangy slide-guitar country crooner and ends as a full-blown, hand-clapping spiritual revival meeting that will have everyone joining in (“Watch them rise together, watch them rise…”).
“Lone Star” is gritty from the start, kicking off with the sound of boots crunching on gravel as they walk away. This low-key ode to hope, good healing, tattoos, and Texas gets toes gently tapping with its chunky strumming and lonesome accordion wail. Meanwhile, “Ain’t No Shame In Wastin’ Time” plays like a country retro Carter-Cash creation in its plea to slow it all down a little. By the end of the record you feel as though you were part of an all-out celebration.
In addition to being a musician, Blakeslee spent years working as an artist. The title track of the album, “The Alley Walker,” comes from his memories of getting from place to place by sneaking through alleyways of Portsmouth, NH, in order to avoid the people to whom he owed artwork. The song’s echoing vocals takes listeners deep into the darkness and mystery of his lonely alley disguise. The final track selection, it leaves audiences amazed at Blakeslee and company’s eclectic versatility.
“I put my heart, soul, and sweat, and tears into the album,” said Blakeslee, “and the band gave everything they’ve got and then some.” This bare-it-all approach to music is what earned him the Boston Music Award for “Folk Artist of the Year” in 2014 and the “Male Performer of the Year” honor at the 2015 New England Music Awards. Blakeslee will go on a split-coast tour to promote The Alley Walker, hitting the east coast in September and sweeping the west coast in November.
The Alley Walker (and assorted Dan Blakeslee and the Calabash Club swag) is available for pre-purchase via PledgeMusic.