Friday, May 9, 2008


From time to time I like to give shout outs to some of my favorite music artists, but I noticed that I have written mostly about female musicians, with the exception of Rilo Kiley (which is fronted by a woman, Jenny Lewis, but also has male band members). I'm not sexist, I just happen to listen to female artists more frequently than males. But as it so happens, one of my favorite musicians of all time is a fellow by the name of Mason Jennings ...

Mason is a Minnesota based artist and began his career right in good ole' Minneapolis! He produced his debut album in 1997 and has released five other albums since them, with his seventh album In the Ever releasing this month! While at one time his greatest following was in the Twin Cities (I was first introduced to him nearly five years ago by my roommate who was from Minneapolis), his popularity is slowly growing across the nation. In 2007 he toured with Guster and that same year he sang two of the Bob Dylan songs for the soundtrack of the film I'm Not There. This year he is touring with Australian artist Missy Higgins and later with Jack Johnson.

His music apparently falls into the genre of "pop-folk." His lyrics are often very intimate -- frequently connected very closely with his own life. The song "Which Way Your Heart Will Go" was based on his experiences with fatherhood. He also is known for writing son
gs with literary and historical themes. For example, one of my favorite songs of his "Adrian" was inspired by the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison. Another beautiful song of his, "The Ballad of Paul and Sheila" was written in memory of Minnesota's beloved Senator Paul Wellstone and his wife Sheila who were killed in a plane crash 2002. A crowd favorite, "Keepin' It Real" was written specifically for the hit movie Shrek but producers ended up using Counting Crows' "Accidentally in Love" instead. More information on his music and the songwriting, recording process can be found in an awesome interview from last year done by a woman in Colorado.

Going to a Mason concert is a truly wonderful experience. He is a warm, intelligent and talented man who completely draws the audience in. I have seen him three times -- once in Madison and twice in Minneapolis. Seeing him perform in the Cities is a great thing because he has such a huge and loyal fan base. When I saw him play last December, right after Christmas, it was his "Hometown show" and he brought his wife up on stage to sing with him, then later his father joined him and his brother. It was really cool!

Here are some clips of him playing in concert (unfortunately live bootleg clips were all I could find online ... guess he's not too commercial yet!). The sound quality is really good, however.

The first is a performance of the song "Jackson Square" from his album Boneclouds (2006).

Next is Mason performing the song "Sorry Signs on Cash Machines" from his 2002 album Century Spring.

Finally a very short clip of him performing the song "Adrian", also from 2002's Century Spring.

So go, check him out if you haven't already! Because he's not just a great musician, he's also one rad person! (I giggle every time I use the word "rad" by the way, but my California friend seems to have made it a permanent part of my lexicon). You can visit his website to get tour information, song lyrics, view videos (including an acoustic version of the aforementioned "The Ballad of Paul and Sheila"), and pre-order his new album!

1 comment:

Kyle said...

Thought I'd give you a heads up that Mason will be playing Forward Music Fest ( on 9/20 in Madison!