Toledo’s Tartaglia living the dream with The SightsWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
On May 18, 21-year-old Toledo native Dean Tartaglia finished his collegiate career at Ohio University. Two days later, he flew out to Los Angeles to begin touring as the saxophonist for Detroit’s heavy soul outfit The Sights, which opens for Tenacious D on a number of tour dates this summer.
“It’s been mind-blowing, man,” Tartaglia said on the road from Billings, Mont. “I think the word I’ve used the most when I’ve been trying to explain it to people is that everything is just kind of surreal.”
Tartaglia, a 2008 St. Francis de Sales grad, majored in music performance with a minor in jazz studies at OU. Touring with The Sights in support of Tenacious D is, for him, the latest step in a musical journey that first began at age 6, when his parents enrolled him in piano lessons.
“I feel lucky,” Tartaglia said. “I’ve always felt that luck is kind of like talent and hard work and success and all that stuff just kind of lining up for no better reason than it just happens.”
Also the frontman for the self-proclaimed “nerd pop” rockers Mind Fish, a group he formed at OU with fellow St. Francis alum Steve Warstler, Tartaglia first got in touch with The Sights about a year-and-a-half-ago.
A friend of his was working at their merchandise, and Tartaglia joined him in Detroit while on winter break. After striking up a conversation with The Sights’ frontman Eddie Baranek and going to the band’s shows, Tartaglia eventually got The Sights to play a gig with Mind Fish.
“We booked them down to Athens, and they stayed with me in my place and we just hung out for most of the night,” Tartaglia said of The Sights. “At one point, [Baranek] just asked if I wanted to do a show with them.
“I said ‘Yes,’ and then I kind of haven’t really looked back since.”
Tartaglia was part of the recording for The Sights’ seventh effor,“Left Over Right,” which is scheduled for release June 19.
“I’m just lucky to be a part of this,” Tartaglia said. “I’m lucky that Eddie saw potential in my playing and my abilities as a performer, and it’s cool to be a sideman to a frontman who’s so talented. It’s pretty amazing.”
Tartaglia is no stranger to national touring acts; Mind Fish has played gigs with the likes of Fitz and The Tantrums, We Are The Fury and The Constellations over the years, Even so, being on the road with The Sights and Tenacious D has been unlike anything he’s experienced thus far.
“He walked through the door and I actually, like, I looked over and made eye contact and freaked out,” Tartaglia said of the first time he met Tenacious D’s Jack Black. “I like, looked away immediately because I’m like, ‘Aw, this is weird. This is weird.’”
Despite Tartaglia’s early nerves, Black turned out to be quite cordial to The Sights, a band he has been a fan of for nearly a decade. When The Sights played at the Sasquatch! Music Festival on Memorial Day Weekend, Black was front and center to watch the set.
“It wouldn’t feel right if I kind of felt like I had to watch my back or something like that or watch what I said, but he’s totally down-to-earth and supportive, too,” Tartaglia said of Black. “I think that’s the biggest thing.
“We didn’t know what to expect, if he’d be hanging around, but he’s there every night watching us and he’s really supportive.”
As for Mind Fish, the band has already been working on new material to follow up January’s “WATCHOUT!” and will perform at Ottawa Tavern on June 15. Tartaglia said the other members have been supportive of his touring with The Sights, adding that he will pick things back up with Mind Fish in the fall.
For now, he is enjoying this opportunity with The Sights.
“It’s like when you’re 14 or 13 and you want to start a band, and you have this idea of, like, being a rock star,” Tartaglia said. “And I’m not calling myself that because it’s not at all what I mean by this, but at certain points during the show on certain nights, it totally feels like you’re living out that dream you had when you were 14 years old.”