Dan Blakeslee — Musician, Artist

What a pleasant surprise to turn on the CBS Morning show and see this feature on musician Dan Blakeslee and his famous artwork on the Heady Topper can. (I want to say “local” musician because he has spent so much time down here performing with the Low Anthem, David Wax Museum, Lydia Loveless, the Lumineers, Liam Finn, Brown Bird, Death Vessel, and Kimya Dawson among others — his most recent album “Owed To The Tanglin’ Wind” was recorded at the Columbus Theatre — but he is from Maine. So we have to share him.)

Several years ago the owners of the Vermont brewery The Alchemist noticed Blakeslee’s concert posters hanging in a coffee shop and hired him to do the art for the brewery. The now famous label for Heady Topper came along in 2012. It was an immediate hit and still is — a recent USA Today readers poll named Heady Topper the winner for best beer label.

The CBS segment tells us that Blakeslee grew his beard and used his own profile as inspiration for the image (see below). So while the brewers patiently waited for the artwork, their artist was growing a beard.

I think there is some hippie nostalgia at work here (this is Vermont after all). Blakeslee’s whimsical black ink style recalls the poster art of the ’60s and the Art Nouveau illustrator who inspired them, Aubrey Beardsley. (Beardsley? Blakeslee? Brenda Lee? Sara Lee? What’s really going on here?)

So while the rest of us were being distracted by his excellent music, Dan Blakeslee was cranking out over 600 rock posters some of which are featured in the book “Art of Modern Rock.” Too much talent for one person . . . not fair. And on top of that, he’s really nice.

I first met Dan when he helped close down What Cheer Vinyl and Vintage on Thayer Street in that daylong musical farewell cum second line. He is a swell guy, but I don’t remember him bringing any beer!

Watch the video at CBS Morning Saturday.

Coming up: The Rapture.

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