Brett Dennen Rocks Jammin Java
Between the fitting opening sets of bluegrass funk performer Justin Trawick and Sarah Bareilles’ smoky pop, a jean-clad man jostled himself into Vienna, Virginia’s sold out Jammin Java and headed towards the merchandise table. Greeted with goofy smiles from the two people working the table, he stayed well hidden under a huge black snow coat, briefly commenting on his sweatiness before padding his way towards a door marked by a single sheet of white paper reading “Artists Only” in pencil lettering.
But half an hour later it’s not a de-coated Brett Dennen that makes his way to the stage, but a man representing The Surfrider Foundation, a California based non-profit environmental organization Dennen closely aligns himself with. Along with another speaker for the Common Sense Environmental Fund, the main event starts on a proactive note, showing the considerate audience that Dennen supports more than just his own cause. In fact, the causes of several organizations which he regularly invites to his shows benefit from a fraction of concert proceeds.
After two fine openers and two brief presenters, Brett Dennen becomes the fifth person in front of the microphone. Sans the snow coat and looking like he just sauntered off a Texas back porch, he tinkers for a moment with his guitar and launches into the infectious “Ain’t No Reason”. Immediately dancing ensues in the crowd and continues through two more of Dennen’s signature calypso folk tunes before he even addresses his listeners. Gripping his Martin guitar with the red word “Peace” perfectly carved into the face and rubbing his bare feet into the carpet, the singer songwriter makes a few clever comments about the dancing, Virginia’s weather, and his band mates before announcing that January 30, 2007 will be a respectable “showing of music”. From here the show fumbles along in the best possible way, with audience participation, the occasional stage banter, and the unruffled presence of a performer who doesn’t seem to want to be anywhere else but in front of the venue’s theater-style black curtains.
Including the sunny “She’s Mine” and a low-key “Desert Sunrise”, the red headed host finished off the pre-encore show with a stirring “I Asked When”, returning to the stage only minutes later to the pounding of audience feet on floor. Offering up three more finger-picking driven songs and ending with the requested “Blessed” Dennen and his band disintegrated off stage to the sounds of a celebratory crowd. Not only is Brett Dennen the guy you want to see in concert on a Monday night, he’s the artist you turn up and show off to your friends. Dennen is the “showing” you can get used to without ever getting sick of.