Music Farm Presents
32 Ann St.
Charleston, SC, 29403
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 16 and over
"In many ways this is my first album," Brett Dennen says of his fourth record, Loverboy, out April 12th,
2011. "On my previous albums I said what I needed to say. I evoked every different mood and sentiment
and emotion. Now I don't really have anything to prove. I've been the new kid on the block and now that
phase is over. I get to start all over again, relax, and refocus." He pauses and flashes a laidback grin. "And
what I'm focused on is having fun."
Dennen's wunderkind rise has been impressive. In 2004 Dennen released his self-titled debut, followed
quickly by his sophomore LP So Much More (2006,) which spent months on the Billboard Heatseeker
chart. The release drew the attention of John Mayer, for whom Dennen opened in 2006 and 2007. In 2008
the artist released his follow-up, Hope for the Hopeless, which debuted at #41 on the Billboard Top 200
and firmly established Dennen as a definitive new voice in modern songwriting. He's worked with Femi
Kuti, Natalie Merchant, and Jason Mraz; he's toured with Dave Matthews, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and The
John Butler Trio; and he's played Bonarroo, Austin City Limits, Coachella, Outside Lands, and Newport
Folk Festival. He's also become the go-to guy for some of the best and most artfully soundtracked
contemporary TV shows. His songs have appeared on Scrubs, Grey's Anatomy, Parenthood, Brothers &
Sisters, and House among others.
Considering his bold-name collaborators, association with hot TV shows, and impressive early chart and
radio success, Brett Dennen could be living in the Hollywood hills, gallivanting around with starlets and
hanging out in hotel bars. Nope. The bohemian artist, whose major in college was Community Studies
for Social Change, lives with a roommate in Santa Monica and rides his bike to the grocery store. Dennen
has never been into the ephemeral thrills of the rock star life, he's after something else: a real career,
and with the release of Loverboy, he's ready to ascend to his rightful place as one his generation's most
inspired, authentic, artists. "Neil Young, Paul Simon, Van Morrison, they're artists, you know? True
artists," he explains. "And even when they have ups and downs, which is inevitable over a long career,
they're still playing with passion. They're still chasing greatness. They've let their craft change over time.
Let it evolve. That's what I want to do."
Dennen first started playing guitar and mandolin to amuse the kids while working as a camp counselor.
Once Dennen got the feel for writing his own material, he couldn't stop. "It was suddenly like, I kind of
need to do this," he remembers.
Dennen spent the next few years touring, and it wasn't until December of 2009 that he had a chance to
think about a fourth record. "I had two weeks off from the road, my housemate and I built a studio in our
living room and we made demo versions of a bunch of songs," he remembers. "The plan was to crank this
album out in early 2010.
Turns out we didn't end up recording until July of that year." Dennen was frustrated. He likes to keep
things moving. But the break turned out to be the best thing possible for the record. "Sometimes when
you're put against a wall you do your best work," he muses. "While we were waiting to figure out what
we were doing with this album I kept writing new songs. One of them was "Sydney (I'll Come Running,)"
one of them was "Comeback Kid" and one of them was "Only Rain." And those are the tracks that will
really pull people in."
He's right. Several of the songs Dennen wrote last are the first ones you really hear on Loverboy. "Sydney
(I'll Come Running)" is a defiant testimony to the endurance of deep love, set to intricate but forceful
guitar and mandolin arrangements and accented by choral call-and-response. "Only Rain" is a delicate,
moody meditation, the sonic equivalent of a pensive rainy day at the beach. And songs like opening
track "Surprise, Surprise" swing with an impressive, easy confidence. That self-assurance comes in part
from Dennen's half-decade of experience and part from the fact that he's finally solidified a relationship
with the right musicians. "If you want to have a forty-year career you'd better surround yourself with
people who will take a bullet for you and for whom you'd do the same," Dennen says. "If you choke you
want to look around and see guys that you trust. You want guys you can fail with. And at the same time,
if you do something triumphant, you want to be able to look around and see people you really want to
share that with too."
The extra time Dennen took making Loverboy also had another unforeseen benefit; instead of touring
around the world, Dennen was, for the first time in a while, really home in Los Angeles. With no bus to
climb on first thing in the morning, no soundcheck to worry about, he started reconnecting with his most
basic (and precious) feeling about music: joy. "People get this amazing opportunity to play music but after
a while they figure out their routine and they stop going out to see music live, they stop listening to the
radio, they stop exploring music," he muses. "I go out and I see live music and I love it and I try to jam
with people or just get out and play in a bar somewhere, just to be out and be involved and be a part of
The chance to retrench and be a part of a local scene inspired Dennen's overall vision of Loverboy as
one of those classic albums that becomes the soundtrack for our lives. "I want people to feel instantly
attached to a feeling or memory from the music," he explains. "And ten years from now, they'll put on
Loverboy and feel like, aww it reminds me of my childhood or of this person in my life."
Brett Dennen has the right guys backing him up, the right vision for his future in mind, and the right
album to get him where he wants to go. "In college I took this one course in mountaineering," he
remembers. "And the professor would always say you can't start counting how many peaks you've
bagged until you've bagged ten peaks. At the time I was like 'what the fuck is he talking about!?' But now
I get it. I used to feel like I had to put everything into every album. Like it was a race. But now I realize
that's not the point. In these last two years I've really been thinking, if this is what I want to do then I
have to do it in a way that keeps me healthy and happy. I need to take care of my body with nutrition and
exercise. I need to take time off, even if I don't want to, and actually appreciate and enjoy it. And I want
to bring all of that balance to my fans. That's what this record is really about. I want people to put on
Loverboy and feel good. I want to make people dance!"
Noah's newest EP, called Family, pays homage to the people who have shaped his life--rather than the self-aggrandizing so common to the often homogeneous world of singer-songwriters."Family comes in many forms," says Noah. "It lives with us, for better and for worse. It shapes us. Thats what this album is about."
Fittingly, a member of Noah's family, his sister Abby Gundersen, plays violin and sings vocal harmonies on the EP. Her soft voice and lush string accompaniments compliment beautifully what are a magnetic and emotionally charged group of songs. The two have been playing music together since Noah was 15 and Abby was 12 years old, while growing up in the Seattle area. They've also performed in the local band The Courage together. "The musical communication I've had with Abby is unlike anything I've experienced elsewhere. It's a really special thing. Having her with me makes me so much more confident in what I'm doing," says Noah. (Also, Abby recently moonlighted as a tour accompanist for acclaimed singer-songwriter Jarrod Gorbel).
The songs on Family are consistently impressive and defy genre. Whereas roots-tinged songs like "Family" conjure up shades of a solo Ryan Adams, the sweeping and etherial "Fire," bears similarities to the lush harmonic feats of Fleet Foxes. Perhaps the album's standout track is the pulsating "David," which combines the haunting darkness of Tom Waits with the lyrical angst of Neil Young. "The song is about who I want to be, while realizing who I am. I want to be less like my Father and more like my Dad."
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