He is one of the most influential artists, at least on a personal level, that I can name. My Mason Jennings knowledge was spread out a lot, and although the seeds were being thrown at me from all directions, they didn't really begin to sprout until I saw him open for Jack Johnson in Cuyahoga, OH. I had driven up there with some of my college friends. We had listened to Jack so much those first few years of college, 2004, 2005 that we figured we should go see him as a group.
So I first heard about Jack Johnson with the theatrical release of the movie Out Cold. If you haven't seen that film you are missing out, in my humble opinion it is quickly becoming a cult classic. Anyway Jack Johnson at this time was still a relatively unknown making surf videos in Hawaii and recording music in his garage. He was friends with the director and ended up contributing more than a few songs to the sound track of this film. He does almost no singing in the soundtrack, just beautiful guitar riffs. We probably watched this film 40 times freshman year, we even had a drinking game. I have seen the director's commentary on multiple occasions, I can point out the mistakes in continuity. Maybe this article will spark a Scenes and Songs article.
Anyway, I saw Mason open for Jack Johnson at this show and he blew me away. A real good friend of mine had been playing Mr. Jennings in his car since he could drive and I always loved it, but never felt compelled to go out and absorb his music on my own until this show. Since then I have seen him rock the Grey Eagle music venue in Asheville, NC, and listened to "Blood of Man" about 10 million times. It was in my CD player straight through a drive from Erie, PA to Asheville, NC one time. That is over 9 hours of the same album, and it was ok. "Blood of Man" is such a good album. If you haven't seen it I strongly suggest you watch the mini movie Mason made (alliteration!) about the inspiration and process behind creating this album. And since I'm such a nice guy I have embedded it for you.
You can get a sense of what makes him such a wonderful musician watching this short documentary. He is just such a genuine person. When I saw him play in Asheville he told a story about a friend that told him about a supervolcano (real thing, check out the wiki page) that had me laughing so hard I was in tears. I found a terrible quality video of him telling the story, it is an abridged version I feel that it still trumpets my cause.
By the end of the Asheville show he had members of the audience on stage and everyone had the best possible time. I actually ended up driving out to the disc golf course outside the city to watch a meteor shower, perfect night. I have a ticket to see Mason at the Turner Hall Ballroom this evening and although it will be hard to match the feel of the 150 person low key show in Milwaukee, I'm sure it will, as always, be a great show. If you ever get a chance to see Mason play I HIGHLY recommend it. Here is his tour schedule.
And I will leave you with a video of him singing "I Love You and Buddah Too" with Jack Johnson and Matt Costa.