Mason Jennings

As one grows into adulthood, remaining steadfastly single-minded about one’s pursuits gets increasingly difficult. The musician becomes a band mate navigating the creative energies of those around them. He becomes a boyfriend, a husband, a businessman. She becomes a lover, a mother, a practitioner of her art. Life becomes multifarious, and the pressure to not let the disparate threads of a chaotic life unravel can cause strain on any relationship. With his new album Minnesota, Mason Jennings crafts a collage of love trying to survive the transition into being a grown-up in a complex world.

“Love is the most important thing to me, my relationship with my wife and kids,” Mason says, adding “And music has always been as important as breathing to me. I have come to realize that to have it all, I have to take the long view when it comes to integrating all these parts of my life.” Increasingly, a sense of place and community has become important to him as well. “The album is called Minnesota because it’s a metaphor for an ever-changing landscape. More than any place I’ve ever been, things change so much here, even month-to-month. But even as things change, Minnesota is where my home is, where my center is.” His profession often takes him away from that center. Being on the road and finding the personal space to create while at home has caused him to examine how he balances his loves. He generally writes from an intensely personal point of view, but Minnesota represents a step toward the light after the darkness of Blood of Man, his last album.

A case in point is the first song on the album, “Bitter Heart,” which manages to be simultaneously plaintive and hopeful. The protagonist recognizes the breach of faith and the sense of estrangement in the relationship, but sings tenderly of rapprochement. To Mason, the central line in this song and a central point to the album is “Our world is filled with only what we see/Can we see love now.” Mason says, “I have come to the understanding that the way that we feel inside is the most important thing, and that we have a say in that.”

Mason often encounters couples after his shows who tell him his music played a major role when they were falling in love. “Raindrops On The Kitchen Floor” is an unadulterated love song, with that love being so visceral that it can seemingly transcend the possible (“How am I gonna live forever/Promise me you will/Call it off, the age of reason/There’s no more time to kill”). “I guess this is music to stay in love to,” he jokes.

But this collage is far from monochromatic. “Clutch” looks back wistfully at a love before the demands of adulthood came knocking. At the end of the song, Mason sings that “Maybe we could work it out, we could live in a dream, live in a dream,” as though he knows it’s too late to re-enter the honeymoon phase of the relationship. The song ends in a dream-like instrumental break that leads directly into “Witches’ Dream,” a fabulist romp that juxtaposes raw lust with fairy tale imagery. He stays in this dream state with “Rudy,” an allegory in which a good man overcomes the forces of darkness, while “Wake Up” addresses the need to put self-inflicted darkness behind one as well.

Musically, Mason paints from a more varied palette than ever. For instance, piano is featured more prominently than any of his previous albums. “The piano seemed to fit the emotional core of the album,” he explains. “I felt that it was important to begin and end the album with piano.” Mason played almost all of the instruments on the album, the one exception being “Well Of Love,” a Perez Prado-esque number that features his friends in The Living Room, the side project of Jack Johnson drummer/percussionist Adam Topol. Friend Jason Schwartzman adds additional piano and background vocals on “Raindrops.”

Minnesota finds Mason Jennings more at home than ever: More at home in his adopted state and more at home with the integration of the self that is required to live an artistic life while enjoying the community of his friends and loved ones.

Paige Calico

Imagine if Brian Wilson and Joni Mitchell wrote and recorded together. The resulting music might sound a lot like Paige Calico, lyrically elegant songs with sweet melodics and rich, lush harmonies. Here on her first solo collection after time with the duo The Dwells, comes an EP of six delicately crafted songs, all rendered with resplendent Paige-sung harmonies. Like Joni and Brian and few others, Paige excels at singing layers of vocals, evoking that spirit of peace and harmony, a timelessly intimate sound that forever sings of Laurel Canyon. Her music is both reminiscent of the past but also bravely new, creating a poignant hybrid of mystic alternative Americana.

Born and raised in West Milford, New Jersey, just a car drive from the lights of Broadway, she sang and danced as soon as she could walk. Recognizing her talent and love of music, her parents gave her a solid musical education from the start. West Milford was chosen because it had one of the best music programs in the region; she studied music from the age of eight to seventeen with Doug Heyburn. She studied voice as well as piano, guitar, sang in multiple choirs, and starred in many musicals. Inspired by great singers of the past, she absorbed the grace and greatness of timeless sirens such as Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone. The haunting soulfulness of their voices, and the way they delivered a lyric, forever impacted her own music.

Paige spent weekends at The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). On Saturdays she would be there learning theory and standards. She lived and breathed music non-stop.

She enrolled at the Berklee College of Music in Boston at 18, where she studied voice as well as songwriting, poetry and the music business. She formed a duo with fellow Berklee student Matthew Bean called The Dwells. They wrote and self released two full length albums, gigged frequently in and around Boston, and on breaks toured along the East and West coast. Upon graduating, The Dwells embarked on a cross country tour in an old Chevy Coachman that the two of them and her father refinished.

Paige first fell in love with the Golden State while visiting Los Angeles at 15 for a singing and acting showcase. But it wasn’t until she was living in Maine after a long cold winter of reclusion and writing that she decided to pack her bags and drive across country solo for an extreme change.

It was on that drive that she wrote some of the songs that comprise this, her first solo album. “The Hard Way” was the first she wrote soon upon leaving the East Coast, while “Haunting Me” emerged after a sleep full of nightmares while crashing at a friends place. With deep colors of bluegrass, folk and Americana intertwining, she knew they were ripe for rich harmonies.

Soon a crop of six songs were polished and ready to record. Co-arranging with producer Devon Geyer (of the band Decorations), they spent six months crafting the record. Unlike the two previous albums she recorded quickly, this one was allowed to slowly simmer and grow. “This was my first album on my own,” she said, “and I knew it had to be right. So I took the process really slow. Nothing was rushed …it’s what I needed. I am taking that lesson for my life too, not to rush things, especially self discovery.”

In addition to singing all the lead and harmony vocals, Paige plays acoustic guitar. Geyer covers electric guitars and bass, with Mike Brown & Burleigh McDowell on drums, Dylan Zmed on mandolin, and Brad Snow on keyboards. The beautiful photography throughout is by the legendary Henry Diltz. The album was engineered by Geyer, mixed by Mario Borgatta, and mastered by Gentry Studer.

Her single, “The Hard Way” is out August 19th.

Crying Diamonds will follow September 23rd.

$20 - $25

Tickets

Please note: show is fully seated. Seats are first come, first serve.

Who’s Going

8

Upcoming Events
Bootleg Theater