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Story and photos by Joe HargreavesOn a sparse stage bathed in blue light, and in front of a packed house Friday night at Milwaukee's Pabst Theater, Minnesota-based pop-folk singer-songwriter Mason Jennings emerged and wove together a collection of lazy yarns, pulled from a body of work that spans over ten years in the making. Mason's act is a beautiful thing to witness; his intimate coffeehouse frat-folk melodies are suited perfectly for the Pabst, or venues of like size. His delivery is both infectious and soothing, reminiscent to that of Jay Farrar, front man of fellow Minneapolis-based band Son Volt, albeit lighter and warmer by contrast.
With campfire intimacy and personable connection, Jennings' moved those in attendance from the confines of their stationary seats to dancing in the aisles. The spirit was alive in the hearts of his fans as they moved rhythmically to the jams being laid down, which at times felt incongruous to the tempo of the pieces being played. It's a phenomenon that speaks to the power behind Jennings' lyrical craft that, so moved by the message of the song and the powerful yet reserved command behind its delivery, the crowd was just "dancing-in-tongue" so-to-speak, like a congregation of Quakers, with the message involuntarily convulsing through the whole of the body that was present.
For the most part Mason has been one of folks' best-kept secrets since his self-titled debut record in 1997, but after being personally recruited by Jack Johnson in 2008, for his sixth full-length record In the Ever, released on Johnson's Brushfire Records label, the cat is now out of its bag.
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