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Brett Dennen

Robert Downes - February 16th, 2009
These are high times for singer-songwriter Brett Dennen: He just wrapped up a performance on the Conan O’Brien Show; he’s been signed to perform at the 2009 Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee; and he’s backing up The Fray on a tour of Britain this April.
With a buzz building in Dennen’s direction, it’s a good time to catch the acoustic rocker on his way up. Locally, music fans will have their chance when Brett Dennen and his band perform with The Little Ones this Thursday, Feb 19 at 8 p.m. at the City Opera House in Traverse City.
The 29-year-old considers himself a late-bloomer; his first big break was opening for John Mayer, who caught his gig in California in 2006 and asked him to join his tour.
Raised in northern California, Dennen was home-schooled by his parents. He worked as a camp counselor in Yosemite National Park in his early 20s. Part of the job involved introducing juvenile offenders to the great outdoors as part of an Outward Bound-style program. “I pushed them to the limit,” he said in a Rolling Stone interview, adding that he taught his crew how to purify water, establish shelters in the wild, and other woodcraft.
Musically, you can place Dennen in the roots-rock bag with the likes of Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson. His vocals have been compared to the two (minus the frog in Matthews voice) and he tends toward sunny songs about nature, peace and love. His bio touts his “earthy tenor” as being “somewhere between Neil Young and Amy Winehouse,” and perhaps there’s a dash of Jeff Buckley in there too.
Dennen is big on social causes. His website (BrettDennen.net) offers info on various non-profit organizations, a “Hope for the Homeless”
CD, and a rather ill-defined “Mosaic Project,” which crafts “children’s songs for peace and a better world.”
“Hope for the Homeless” is a 12-song CD that draws inspiration from the music of Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and worldbeat artists.
A Porterhouse Productions show, this Thursday’s perfor-mance at the City Opera House runs $15 for general admission seating. Other upcoming shows at the Opera House include comedians Drew Hastings on Friday, March 6, and Louis CD on Thursday, April 16, with Ani DiFranco performing Monday, April 27.
 
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