Dan Oakenhead was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in the thick heat of summer, 1951, and grew up in Bay Village on the shores of Lake Erie. Taking up the guitar at the age of fifteen, he began writing songs that same year, appearing solo in local performance events, and singing lead and playing sax with the 60s cover band The Avengers. Early on he gravitated toward the poignant and humorous songwriting of Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs. During the late 60s and early 70s, Dan's songwriting was shaped by the acoustic work that would emerge full force with Gram Parsons, James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and Jimmie Spheeris. Moving west to Nevada and Alaska, with stops in Arizona and Wisconsin, and finally settling in Colorado, Dan further developed his guitar styles along eclectic lines, shadowing the playing of Doc Watson and Leo Kottke. He studied classical and jazz piano, and learned the Irish whistle from Shannon Heaton of Siucra and Sean Smythe of Lunasa. Dan's music was born in the new-folk and folk-rock tradition of the late 60s, and now expands the spirit, moving to broader musical styles and reaching higher lyrical ground.
Dan's four CDs, Road To Everafter (1999), Twice Around The Mountain (2000), Over The Blue Edge (2001), and Sky Geezer (2003) on the Northern Sky Music label feature lyrical songs, acoustic country-folk, and instrumental phantasms. His unique beyond-the-edge perspective can be described as a combination of John Prine and the Dalai Lama. At the piano, Dan connects with the impressionistic influences of Lyle Mays and Claude Debussy. On the low and high whistle he evokes the sounds of the slow traditional airs of Ireland and Scotland.
In performance Dan weaves guitar, lyrics, piano, and whistles into a comfortable flow of styles and transitions. He eases audiences into amusing contemplation through deep instrumental expression, and sets up an easy-going connection with folks through vivid lyrical images and spontaneous storytelling. Dan has performed throughout the western U.S., as well as in Europe, Ireland, England, and New Zealand. He has opened concerts for the likes of Tom Waits, Chris Brubeck, and world-renowned Scottish band Capercaille. Dan's solo performances favor listening rooms and music halls where folks gather for song and story.
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