From Madison Avenue to Martha's Vineyard, Dana Edelman Follows His Muse

Meet the man behind "The Massachusetts Song (You Athol)" and much more.

Dana Edelman with the tools of his trade in his West Tisbury home studio. (Photo courtesy Dana Edelman)
Dana Edelman with the tools of his trade in his West Tisbury home studio. (Photo courtesy Dana Edelman)
For the past couple of months, tens of thousands of people who'd never heard of Dana Edelman have been sharing his viral video, "The Massachusetts Song (You Athol)".

The success of Edelman's ditty, recorded as a duet with his 11-year-old son Jaiden and filmed at the Yard in Chilmark, was more than beginner's luck: Before moving to Martha's Vineyard, Edelman was a full-time producer for a New York ad agency, writing music and lyrics for commercial spots. He's also done film scoring and has recorded with his own band.

In the fall of 2011, after years of Vineyard vacations, Edelman and his family — wife Laura, Jaiden and 6-year-old Arianna — made the transition to full-time Island life. Earlier this month, Edelman sat down with Patch at Little House Cafe in Vineyard Haven for a talk about where he's been and what he's up to.

Patch: How long did you work at the advertising agency in New York?
Dana Edelman: Eight years.

Patch: What was the scope of your work?
Dana: I would take a concept from, basically, start to finish. I didn't create the concept, but I needed to make it come to life: Animation, music, casting, hiring the right director, getting everyone on the same page. 

Patch: I saw your spot for Scrabble on YouTube. It's delightfully weird. How did you do the music for that crazy animation?
Dana: It was really hard. The animation was created and I had to figure out the music. I just went for it; it took a while to get it all right. 

Patch: How much does the New York advertising industry of today resemble what we're shown in the TV series "Mad Men," set in the 1960s?
Dana: That was the heyday; my uncle was one of those Mad Men. It's changed so much: The character and the fun and all that craziness is out. It's just a grind.

Patch: Now you're a contractor, writing music for your old agency and other clients. What does the rest of the family do while you're working at home in your studio?
Dana: They all go, every morning, off to school. My wife Laura teaches at West Tisbury School, where Jaiden is in sixth grade and Arianna is in first. 

Patch: Are you working locally as well as for New York clients?
Dana: It's evolving naturally: I'm starting to get involved. I'm the music director for the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival and helping coordinate music for the Living Local Harvest Fest.

Patch: What are the tools of your trade? 
Dana: My computer; the Pro Tools music software program; my guitar.

Patch: Will we get to hear "The Massachusetts Song (You Athol)" and other Dana Edelman originals in concert on the Vineyard?
Dana: Yes! I'm thinking about a show in March, bringing my band up from New York.

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