The Michigan Daily discovered in November 2004 that several articles written by arts editor Alex Wolsky did not meet the newspaper’s standard of ethical journalism. Parts of these stories had been plagiarized from other news sources. Although the article below has not been found to contain plagiarism, the Daily no longer stands by its content. For details, see the Daily’s editorial.

Todd Weiser
Courtesy of Lee Stanford

The Blind Pig is a fascinating venue. Its exterior is hidden from the main drags in the city; its interior is humble and low lit. The walls are littered with flyers from the glory days of grunge and other featured artists who had trekked through on their way to the next stop, leaving their footprints for generations to witness. It stood as the start of folk-rock savior Mason Jennings’ new tour last Thursday evening.

After becoming somewhat acclimated to the road as a solo artist, Jennings has taken on a somewhat fresh approach to the stage; this time a band and a handful of new songs to boot accompany him. “I’m excited about everything with regards to this tour,” said Jennings. “I’m excited to get back on the road with the new band.” And it shows.

The onstage dynamic between the three is representative of a veteran trio, not a band playing its first performance together. The stage, an intimate and austere setting, was lit up by the band and its presence. The set was eccentric, filled with songs from his entire catalog, with an emphasis on his latest album, Century Spring. He played some solo, on piano, and the majority with his band.

A lot of Jennings’ material tends to emulate the likes of folk-rock legends of music’s past. “Most of the music I listen to tends to become reflected in the music I play,” he said, “as is the case with any artist. You’ll always adjust a little depending on what’s going on around you.”

This could be drawn throughout the entire evening, as it was apparent that Jennings is constantly fighting with two personalities: his folk side and his rock side. One half of him seemed to want to croon about love’s present face and past personalities; the other wanted to rock out with his friends. This dichotomy created an inimitable blend that was representative of the artists on the walls around him.

However, somewhere in between the smoke and the unfettered collegiate angst within the audience stood a simple man from the Midwest, one who’s running across North America singing his songs of love with a smile on his face all the way. He prefers to let his music do the talking for him and the way things seem that’s not a bad idea, given the depth and emotion his songwriting evokes.

The tour that started in Ann Arbor continues through the end of March, covering both the United States and Canada. Afterwards he’s taking his band overseas and then returning to the studio to record another album. But until then, he’ll be leaving his footprint on every stop while consistently keeping things fresh and new.

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