Brett Dennen: Making Beach Volleyball Safe Again...

Brett Dennen is tall.
At 6’5”, an argument could easily be made that Dennen, Michael Franti, and Tommy Lee would form one of the most imposing front lines in the NBA. I wondered about their potential dominance in beach volleyball, but Dennen assured me that he’s way too fair skinned to spend that much time in the sun.
Lucky for Dennen and the world of beach volleyball, he has a promising music career to fall back on instead.
In his mid-twenties, Dennen is quickly making a name for himself. After playing for only 2 ½ years, he’s shared stages with Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Taj Mahal, Ziggy Marley, and played at festivals such as Bonaroo, and the High Sierra Music Festival in California.
Signed to Dualtone Music Group, and based out of sunny California, a stones throw from Yosemite National Park, Dennen released his latest album, So Much More, this past fall. With influences ranging from Paul Simon to Marvin Gaye, Dennen’s music is hard to pinpoint. Call it neo-folk or call it gentleman pop. Either way, the end result is music that is unique, fun, and inspiring.
Dennen comes to Philadelphia February 1st to play the Tin Angel in Old City . Touring for two thirds of the year up and down both coasts, Dennen has made his way through Philadelphia a handful of times. His fondest memory coming from performing at the World Café Live and on the air on WXPN, UPenn’s radio station a while back.
A Brett Dennen live show is like that warm, sunny day in the middle of winter or that light rain shower on a steamy summer afternoon. It’s refreshing and relaxing. His acoustic guitar slung high across his chest, Dennen shimmies and shakes and struts from one side of the stage to the other, tickling the crowd with his bouncing melodies and flowing guitar work. It’s no wonder guitar wiz and occasional funnyman Mayer plugged him this fall in Rolling Stone.
Dennen started performing and playing music when he was in college and at the urging of his manager, started recording songs. These songs quickly became his self-titled album. After steady touring, crafty networking, and an infectious likeability, Dennen is now one of those artists who are creating a legitimate buzz in the music industry.
Humble and easy-going, Dennen comes off more like your buddy who happens to play some kick ass songs, as opposed to a national touring act. His shows are a get together among old friends, and Dennen’s personality takes over the room he’s playing, a unique trait for a performer.

Five Random Facts About Brett Dennen:
1.) He’s a dog person. (Unconditional love? Check.)
2.) He prefers Led Zeppelin to the Who. (This is strictly in regards to music, not acting. Most likely Roger Daltry’s performance on a recent episode of CSI:Miami could alter this answer.)
3.) If he had to choose between watching football or baseball, he’d go with baseball. Preferably the San Francisco Giants. (No word on any potential tie to the Barry Bonds/Balco case. It’s doubtful, but I’ll look into it.)
4.) Ozomatli, the dynamic latin/funk band from California, is Dennen’s ideal backing band.
5.) If he had to choose a pizza topping, and his only choices were chocolate chips or orange slices, he’d go with orange slices. But only because of their similarity to pineapple.

This past summer, Dennen and his drummer, Detroit Randy, came through Portland, Maine, and I happened to catch the show at the urging of a friend. The club was sticky, but the music was as chill as a frosty keg. It was Tequila shots cool. Everyone in the club was nodding their head and swaying to the music. At one point I noticed the pretty, little bartender, Michelle, singing along. Before that night, she didn’t even know who Dennen was.
“He’s adorable,” she said.
A dim lit club is brightened by Dennen, and his talent is rare. Try to pigeon-hole or categorize him anyway you want. Until an "incredibly talented, trust me, you’ll like it category is created," Dennen will remain in a league of his own. The future is looking good for Dennen.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In the mirror.
That mirror most likely will be in the rest room of a gas station somewhere in America, because Brett Dennen doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Not even for beach volleyball.
Sorry Tommy Lee.
this originally appeared in "The Hawk," the newspaper at St. Joe's University in Philadelphia, PA 1.31.07

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