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March 19, 1975 |
|Genres||Indie folk, folk-rock|
|Instruments||Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Piano|
Mason Jennings (born March 19, 1975 in Honolulu, Hawaii) is an American pop-folk singer-songwriter. He is well known for his simple yet catchy melodies, intimate lyrics, literary and historical themes, and distinctive voice. His music has appeared in the surf film Shelter and he has toured extensively.
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Born in Hawaii, Jennings moved with his family to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at an early age. Jennings learned to play guitar at the age of 13, when he began writing songs. Jennings later dropped out of school and moved to Minneapolis to pursue his musical career.
Jennings produced his self-titled debut album in 1997 on an analog four-track in the living room of a rented home, playing all instruments himself. In October 1998, joined by drummer Chris Stock (a.k.a. Chris Stocksmith) and bassist Robert Skoro, he began a weekly gig at Minneapolis' 400 Bar as the Mason Jennings Band. The two week gig ended up lasting four months. In April 1999, six months after forming, The Mason Jennings Band was voted by the 1999 "Picked to Click Poll" conducted by Minneapolis newspaper, City Pages. Mason began touring nationally and expanded the depth of his sound by inviting saxophonist Chris Thomson to play with them occasionally and replacing Stock with Brazilian jazz drummer Edgar Olivera.
Birds Flying Away (2000) revealed his penchant for singing first-person narratives of imaginary rustic characters. Following the release of this album, Noah Levy of The Honeydogs took over drumming duties from Olivera. In 2002, Jennings released a studio album, Century Spring, and a "fans only" collection of acoustic songs, Simple Life. An EP supporting Century Spring was also released, featuring the album's opening track, "Living In The Moment," two live tracks, and the previously-unreleased "Emperor Ashoka." Jennings released all three discs — and re-released his earlier albums — on his homebrew record label, Architect Records.
In 2003, Skoro and Levy left the band and were replaced by bassist Chris Morrissey (Bill Mike Band) and drummer Brian McLeod. On February 10, 2004, Jennings released Use Your Voice, which notably included the songs "Keepin' It Real," ostensibly written at the request of Shrek 2 producers (but not used in the film), and "The Ballad of Paul and Sheila," an acoustic dirge for late Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone. On September 30 of that year, the band released a DVD entitled Use Your Van, which chronicled the recording of Use Your Voice and part of the promotional tour. The DVD was filmed by Andy Grund.
On June 17, 2005, Jennings signed with Glacial Pace, a subsidiary of Sony's Epic Records headed by Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock. Minnesota's Star Tribune credited Brock with convincing Jennings to sign after the Mason Jennings Band had opened for several Modest Mouse shows in 2004. Jennings had long avoided the major labels, citing desires to maintain creative control and dodge big-label politics. Glacial Pace is now an independent label.
Jennings recorded his sixth album, Boneclouds, at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, MN with producer Noah Georgeson. The album was released on May 16, 2006 by Glacial Pace. Soon thereafter, bassist Chris Morrisey left the band. Jennings opened for Guster during their Winter 2007 tour. Accompanying Jennings was new bassist Arabella Kauffmann and Brian McLeod on drums. Jennings sang two Bob Dylan songs for the soundtrack of the movie "I'm Not There" (released in November 2007 in the U.S.): "The Times They Are a-Changin'" and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll."
In early 2008 Jennings signed with Jack Johnson's record label, Brushfire Records. Jennings released In the Ever in May 2008. The title was inspired by his son referring to where he was before he was born as, "In the ever". Jennings and Johnson met at Gustavus Adolphus College's Earth Jam in 2001 when Jennings was scheduled as Johnson's opening act. Jennings announced at the Elemental Experience Music & Arts Festival in San Diego, California on May 2, 2009, that he would be releasing a new album (later entitled Blood of Man) in summer 2009. He also mentioned that he would have music on the soundtrack for the documentary 180° South. The documentary was released in March 2010.
On June 2, 2009 the single "Sunlight" was released on iTunes and all proceeds will go to the Surfrider Foundation in efforts to help clean up beaches around the country. On June 20, 2009, Jennings headlined the Locally Grown Festival in Ojai, California. Jack Johnson sat in for a portion of the set, singing both Mason and Jack's songs. Zach Gill performed as well, as the show ended with "I Shall Be Released", a song written by Bob Dylan.
On September 15, 2009, Blood of Man was released on CD and vinyl format. A free bonus EP titled Independent (containing the tracks "Mark My Heart With Ashes" and "Wide Open Country") was distributed with the album at independent record stores. A week before the official CD release, a version of the album containing the exclusive track "Waves" was made available exclusively on iTunes.
In late 2010, Live at First Ave., his first live album ever, was released. Jennings is the subject of the second episode of BYUtv's AUDIO-FILES on April 24, 2012. In 2010, Jennings released The Flood. This album was made up of songs he had recorded in the 1990s on a cassette tape. Jennings rediscovered these songs and re-recorded them in a stripped down fashion to stay true to their intent. In 2011, he released Minnesota, his first new album of original songs since 2009's Blood of Man. On November 12, 2013, he released Always Been. The first single from the album was "Lonely Street", followed by "Wilderness".
- Mason Jennings (1997)
- Birds Flying Away (2000)
- Living in the Moment EP (2002)
- Century Spring (2002)
- Simple Life (2002)
- Use Your Voice (2004)
- Use Your Van DVD (2004)
- Boneclouds (2006)
- If You Need a Reason EP (2006)
- In The Ever (2008)
- How Deep is that River EP (2008)
- Blood of Man (2009)
- Independent EP (2009)
- Fingerprints - Sept. 20, 2009 (2010)
- Live at First Ave. (2010)
- The Flood (2010)
- 180° South: Conquerors of the Useless Soundtrack (2010)
- Minnesota (2011)
- Always Been (2013)
- Wild Dark Metal (2016)