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Begging for Change

music_TheEntranceBandThe Entrance Band has a message behind the mayhem

Last September I previewed the Amazing Baby show at The Crepe Place, and the day of the concert my editor gave me a heads up to get there early and check out the opener—The Entrance Band. Luckily I followed that advice, as the psychedelic threesome turned out to be one of the most energetic live rock acts I’ve come across in a while. Was that Paz Lenchantin (of A Perfect Circle and Zwan fame) on bass?

Before last year’s self-titled release as The Entrance Band, the moniker “Entrance” was more or less a pseudonym for Guy Blakeslee, the vocalist, guitarist and frontman/spokesperson for the group that’s performing at the Brookdale Lodge on Tuesday, Feb. 16. “People used to come up to me after shows—actually, they still do—and yell ‘Hey Entrance!’ to get my attention,” Blakeslee remembers. In fact, though its membership has remained constant since its inception, Entrance released three albums (in 2003, 2004, and 2006) before deciding to add the ‘band’ qualifier last year.

Entrance Band’s three core members—Blakeslee, Lenchantin, and drummer Derek James—have been playing music together for roughly seven years now, and have clearly developed great chemistry over that time. “It’s like playing so tight that you can play loose—improvising within structure,” the singer explains. “At least one of us is always challenging the others to do new things in every song and every set.” And interestingly enough, that relationship partially evolved out of the dissolution of Billy Corgan’s post-Smashing Pumpkins supergroup Zwan.

“I was the youngest person hanging around this group of older musicians with similar taste in music,” says Blakeslee of his time in Chicago’s rock community. “I started playing at this open mic night kind of thing at one of the local venues with David Pajo’s (of Zwan) band Papa M, and that’s how I started playing with Paz.”

Before Chicago, however, Blakeslee was a Baltimore punk rocker, actively involved in the local DIY movement. “I was 13 or 14 and started playing in bands, and since we were too young to go to bars we started getting access to places to put on shows; some guys even started venues that lasted for a few years,” he explains. “It was a grass roots kind of thing, really about creating our own cultures.”

Years later, that same sort of counterculture attitude is still apparent in songs like the activist-tinged track “M.L.K.,” which Blakeslee admits he is often questioned about. In fact, he has so much to say when asked about the song that our chat becomes more of a rambling—yet impassioned—monologue on subjects I haven’t even broached. However, Blakeslee is clear on one thing: though there may be a black President, he warns, “Don’t be fooled, the dream has not come.”

If nothing else, the man has a real, genuine passion for social justice that he’s now mining in the Entrance Band. “I wanted to convey a certain relation to [MLK], and I was working on how to articulate that for years,” relates Blakeslee. “It’s about making real change happen in the world.”

Blakeslee is the kind of guy who could be living in Santa Cruz, hanging out on lower Pacific Avenue and fitting in fine—both fashionably and ideologically. But despite his dissatisfaction with the current state of the world, he says his job as a musician has actually made him more optimistic. “Being in a band and traveling to every state, I get to see how people live,” he says. “There’s a real progressive undercurrent that’s taking over this country, and I get to see it first hand.”

 


The Entrance Band plays at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the Brookdale Lodge, 11570 Hwy 9, Brookdale. Tickets are $12 in advance. For more information call 338-1300 or go to folkyeah.com.
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