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Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 6 years ago

LISTEN: Keeping history alive with Dean Johanesen

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by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

One thing's for certain — Dean Johanesen is not an easy man to miss.

During any given performance, the musician, who describes his sound as "circus swing," is dressed to the nines — slacks, vest, tie, fedora — the whole ensemble. And his fashion sense isn't the only thing reminiscent of the American yesteryear — his music is equally inspired by the time period.

"It's always paying homage," he says. "I really feel like it's paying tribute to the style of music I play and to the history that's in those songs I've written."

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Johanesen says he's inspired by music's ability to tell stories, and he uses songwriting to keep the stories and cultures of people he finds most interesting alive and in people's minds. His songs weave tales of gypsies, bootleggers, Vaudeville stars, circus queens and other historic figures with an early ’20s jazz guitar sensibility.

"I think history in general is attractive to me," he says. "There are so many great stories in the fabric of history that we totally look over. I like to hear real stories of older times and bring those things to light. There's so much interesting history that's been buried, and there's no way to pay tribute to those people. So it's interesting to me to dig and find little gems and write songs about them to keep them in the public eye — or in the public ear."

We caught up with Johanesen for a performance and interview at State Street Eating House + Cocktails.

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