A man with a van

Mason Jennings’ new DVD helps fans put a face with his sound

by Claire Joseph

It’s not often an artist shows you exactly who he is.

Although he was born in Pittsburgh, Mason Jennings grew up in Minneapolis, and fans in Minnesota consider him a local artist.

Last week Jennings released his first DVD, “Use Your Van.” Unlike most singers’ DVDs, “Use Your Van” is not merely a recording of a single concert.

Instead, Jennings’ DVD is an in-depth documentary of a year in the life of this singer-songwriter and his band (drummer Brian McLeod and bassist Chris Morrissey). As director Andy Grund describes it, the film is a “slice of life of an independent musician.”

In an interview with the Daily last week, Jennings said he wanted to release the film to “show what it’s like behind the scenes and on the road.” Also, because he doesn’t get a lot of radio or video time, he said it’s sometimes hard for people to know about him and his music. He hopes his DVD will change that.

Between October 2003 and August, a camera followed Jennings and his band while they created their fifth album, “Use Your Voice” and promoted the album on tour.

In the film, we see Jennings performing songs in the studio, during practice sessions and at various venues on tour.

Viewers get a vivid sense of Jennings’ personality from watching humorous anecdotes and interviews with the band, especially from observing the interaction between Jennings and his comical bassist.

On stage, Jennings creates a bond between himself and his fans.

Offstage, it seems Jennings remains the polite, funny guy he appears to be; a man who always seems to have time for his fans.

Viewers of “Use Your Van” get a chance to know not only Mason Jennings the artist, but also Mason Jennings the man.