Mason Jenning

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Mason Jenning’s song “Paul and Sheila” was written when he got the news of Paul and Sheila Wellstone’s tragic death while on the road. The song says, “October morning, little plane on the forest floor up on the TV, between a rerun and another war, here in a hotel, trying to make some sense of this two thousand miles from my family in Minneapolis.… Hey senator, I wanna say, all the things you fought for did not die here today… hey senator, I'm gonna do all the things I can to live my life more like you lived. Clearly when Jennings lists influences like Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and John Lennon intuitive song writing is an essential part to his sound. He carries on the torch of what they stood for and uses a modest down to Earth approach even with independent album sales topping 100,000.

Back to the basics was the goal of Mason’s fourth album, Use Your Voice. It was recorded without overdubs and fancy technology in favor of a raw realistic tone. Kind of like what Johnny Cash did way back or Dylan. In Jennings new song, “Crown” he splashes on a healthy dose of the Dylan/Woody twang and harmonica; ending up with great sounding folk. “Fourteen Pictures” is more intimate with quiet guitar plucking holding the songs hand as it walks through the beat. “Lemon Grove Avenue” shows Jennings’ lighter side. It’s simple “La da da da” chillin’ on Lemon Grove Avenue lyrics show that this album is less country than his last, and much more oldie New York folk feeling.

Mason Jennings has been a fixture of the Minnesota music scene for almost 10 years. He resides in Minneapolis with his wife and son when not touring the world with the likes of Jack Johnson, whom was his equal until the media plucked him. Jennings’ time will come, but he doesn’t make his music to have his time. He made a great point in one interview talking about how having 2,000 people at a show never gives you the real fans like the more intimate smaller venues.. The big shows have a lot of rolling stones who want to be part of the whole scene but aren’t into the music. Much like what folky Joni Mitchell called, “Tourists” at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. She said to a crowd of 600,000 whistling people, “Last Sunday I went to a Hopi Ceremonial Dance in the desert and there were a lot of people there, and there were tourists who were getting into it like Indians and Indians who were getting into it like tourists.. Your acting like a bunch of tourists man, give us some respect.”. You shouldn’t go to his show if you don’t like the music, it’s not about having a recognizable name, it is about a recognizable sound.. And Mason’s got that.