Mason Jennings Recruits the Family for a First Avenue Minneapolis Show
Mason Jennings played a sold out show at First Avenue in Minneapolis on December 27th, 2007. He usually plays First Ave every December, and this concert came closely after the soundtrack to I’m Not There was released, in which he provided two excellent Bob Dylan covers – Times They Are a-Changin’ and The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. Surprisingly, both songs were left off the setlist.
Perhaps he was too busy tending to his family. Brother Matt Jennings, who has a striking resemblence to Mason and opened the show with his own set, came out to play on a few songs including an old song the pair had written about riding bikes intoxicated at night. Wife Amy Jennings (formerly of Astronaut Wife ) came out to provide backing vocals on a few songs including the poignant tribute The Ballad of Paul and Sheila about the untimely death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone. Finally, in an out-of-left-field and refreshing move, he brought out his proud and understandibly nervous father to sing a couple songs including Go Tell it on the Mountain.
Former bassist and current John Lennon circa 1970 lookalike Robert Skoro joined him onstage with an acoustic guitar for a soothing cover of the Everly Brothers’ All I Have to Do is Dream followed by Heaven, a song from Skoro’s 2002 solo album Proof. The set ended with the entire group (sans father) for a performance of Sorry Signs on Cash Machines from Mason’s 2002 album Century Spring. By this time, the show had a very Grand Ole Opry feel to it, and it was nice how he slowly built to that point from starting with just an acoustic guitar.
The encore started with the wisely chosen Big Sur from his first album, leading into the poorly chosen Keepin’ it Real. The song, which I could do a songs alike post about seeing as it’s a slight ripoff of Bob Dylan’s You Ain’t Going Nowhere, was written for Shrek 2. The producers nixed it for Accidentally in Love by the Counting Crows , which had a lasting love affair with the Billboard charts. Mason ended the show with the stark and beautful Adrian from Century Spring.
Another highlight was a laid back cover of Waiting by Tom Petty with accompaniment on the upright bass. Maybe he included this in lieu of the Dylan songs? Either way, it was well executed and placed nicely in the middle of the setlist. All in all, another great show from one of Minnesota’s favorite singer/songwriters and truly unique talents.