On Friday, Jan. 29, Guy Blakeslee brought his one-man show to town by way of Dallas’ trailer trash-themed dive bar, Double Wide. Blakeslee, who has fronted the psychedelic rock outfit The Entrance Band for the past decade, took the stage with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and a few minor percussion accessories (wrist sleigh bells and an ankle tambourine) in tow.
Blakeslee, a skinny, dark-haired figure dressed in a black vest atop a long-sleeve, black-and-white shirt with cuffed skinny jeans and dark boots, donned a tan classical nylon-stringed guitar through his eight-song set. He demonstrated a clear prowess for fingerpicking, switching off between intricately plucked melodies and more understated strums beneath a commanding voice that was tremulous and clear, his vibrato bordering on a bleat. Blakeslee’s mid- to upper-ranged voice often strayed comfortably into a falsetto, his ankle tambourine-aided foot stomps serving as rhythmic punctuation on several songs.
The songs ranged from a modern folk protest-oriented song about current events in Baltimore (prefaced by a question: “Do cops shoot people in Dallas?”) to several that toed the line between folk and cowboy country. His sound had a southwestern bent, at times almost reflecting a country church or southern spiritual vibe. The highlight of his set came at the halfway mark when Blakeslee offered a beautiful acoustic rendition of the opening track, “Haunted City,” from his 2014 solo debut, Ophelia Slowly. Though his second album, a collection of instrumental tracks titled The Middle Sister, was officially released just a few weeks prior to the show, Blakeslee did not incorporate any of the new tunes into his set.
Between songs, Blakeslee mumbled almost inaudibly into the microphone while tuning, at one point thanking the 15-strong audience for joining him on “this dangerous psychological journey.” Blakeslee’s voice and guitar playing were both beautiful, but his performance lacked a certain holding power. While his vocals were spot-on and not wanting for presence, Blakeslee’s closed-eye delivery was full-force with little to no dynamic range for contrast and dramatic flair.
Overall, Blakeslee demonstrated a clear command of his voice and guitar which, to the initiated, was undoubtedly an intimate treat. For those just tuning in, however, his solo presentation was simply not interesting enough to prove compelling.