Brett Dennen & John Craigie // Texas 2023
Brett Dennen, a Northern California native, has been captivating audiences for nearly two decades with his distinct blend of folk-pop melodies, thought-provoking lyrics, and soulful vocal prowess. His signature red hair and lanky frame are as unmistakable as the music that has earned him legions of dedicated fans and critical acclaim.
Dennen's musical journey began in earnest at Camp Jack Hazard, a summer camp where he first discovered his love for singing and songwriting. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell, Dennen crafted his own unique style that reflects his passion for storytelling and social commentary.
Dennen's debut album, Brett Dennen (2004), introduced the world to his undeniable talent and served as a springboard for a career that has since seen the release of several successful albums including So Much More (2006), Hope for the Hopeless (2008), Loverboy (2011), Smoke and Mirrors (2013), Por Favor (2016), and See The World (2021). Each record has showcased his evolution as an artist, with a growing mastery of his craft and the ability to convey complex emotions through his songwriting.
With a successful string of albums and several Top Ten AAA singles like “Make You Crazy,” “Wild Child,” and 2018’s “Already Gone.” His single “See The World,” off the album of the same name, reaching Top Five on the AAA charts, Dennen has cemented himself as a fixture in American pop/folk music. He released his most recent single, “This Is Going To Be The Year,” on Mick Music.
Dennen's live performances are characterized by his infectious energy and charisma, with each show a heartfelt expression of his love for music and connection with his audience. His insightful lyrics often touch on themes of love, nature, and social justice, resonating with fans who appreciate the genuine emotion and thoughtfulness behind his art.
In recent years, Brett Dennen has started to let the world in on his secrets. In 2017, he created the “Lift Series,” an annual tour wherein he combines shows in ski towns with conservation initiatives and education in each locale. An avid skier and surfer as well as a conservationist, Dennen works with local organizations to spearhead beach clean-ups and educate young people to become climate stewards, driving awareness through his music and marrying just a few of his many sides in one effort to help drive positive change. Despite the success of his career, Dennen’s connection to his roots remains. In 2022, he tapped into his love for the outdoors and summer camp memories, hosting the first annual Camp Dennen outdoor retreat at Constellation Creek in the greater Lake Tahoe area, establishing a space for community, nature, music, and art.
With his undeniable talent, magnetic stage presence, and unwavering dedication to his craft, Brett Dennen has carved out a unique niche for himself in the world of singer-songwriters. As he continues to evolve as an artist, fans and critics alike eagerly await the next chapter in this remarkable musician's storied career. www.brettdennen.live
Portland, OR-based singer, songwriter, and producer John Craigie adapts moments of solitude into stories perfectly suited for old Americana fiction anthologies. Instead of leaving them on dog-eared pages, he projects them widescreen in flashes of simmering soul and folk eloquence. On his 2022 full-length album, Mermaid Salt, we witness revenge unfurled in flames, watch a landlocked mermaid’s escape, and fall asleep under a meteor shower.
After selling out shows consistently coast-to-coast and earning acclaim from Rolling Stone, Glide Magazine, No Depression, and many more, his unflinching honesty ties these ten tracks together. The album comes from the solitude and loneliness of lockdown in the Northwest. Someone whose life was touring, traveling, and having lots of human interaction is faced with an undefinable amount of time without those things. So, he began writing new songs and envisioning an album that was different from his past records. The sound of everyone playing live in a room together was traded for the sound of song construction with an unknown amount of instruments and musicians—a quiet symphony.
Rather than steal away to a cabin or hole up in a house with friends, Craigie opted to set up shop at the OK Theater in Enterprise, OR with longtime collaborator Bart Budwig behind the board as engineer. A rotating cast of musicians shuffled in and out safely, distinguishing the process from the communal recording of previous releases. The core players included Justin Landis, Cooper Trail, and Nevada Sowle. Meanwhile, Shook Twins lent their signature vocal harmonies, Bevin Foley arranged, composed, and performed strings, and Ben Walden dropped in for guitar and violin plucking parts. “Instruments were scattered around the theater and microphones placed in various spots,” he recalls. “It’s hard to say who all played what exactly.”
As such, the spirit in the room guided everyone. On “Distance,” warm piano glows alongside a glitchy beat as he softly laments, “I could lose you to the loneliness, vast and infinite.” Then, there’s “Helena.” A jazz-y bass line snakes through head-nodding percussion as he relays an incendiary parable of a mother and son in exile. He croons, “She said fire was how we’d make ‘em pay. As I ran across the fields, she would scream, ‘Light it up son’,” uplifted in a conflagration of Shook Twins’ harmonies. Strings echo in the background as his vocals quake front-and-center on “Street Mermaid.”
Elsewhere, the guitar-laden “Microdose” beguiles and bewitches with an intoxicating refrain dedicated to a time where he “Microdosed for months and months, dissolve my ego in the acid.” Everything culminates on the glassy beat-craft and glistening guitars of “Perseids” where he sings, “There’s always a new heart after the old heart. Maybe a new heart is enough.”
During this period, he explored the environment around him “from the Oregon coasts to the waterfalls” and read books about Levon Helm, Billie Holiday, and Ani DiFranco. “I got time to silence all the noise and chaos of touring and look inward,” he observes. Craigie had reached a series of watershed moments in tandem with Mermaid Salt. Beyond headlining venues such as The Fillmore and gracing the stage of Red Rocks Amphitheater, his 2020 offering Asterisk The Universe earned unanimous tastemaker applause. Rolling Stone noted, “tracks like ‘Don’t Deny’ and ‘Climb Up’ bridge a Sixties and Seventies songwriter vibe with the laid-back cool of Jack Johnson, an early supporter of Craigie,” while Glide Magazine hailed it as “one of his best records.” Perhaps, No Depression put it best, “For many weary and heavy- listeners hearted, the album might be exactly what they need.” Along the way, he generated over 40 million total streams and counting, speaking to his unassuming impact.
In the end, Craigie offers a sense of peace on Mermaid Salt. https://johncraigiemusic.com/