WUMB June Program Guide

The Circle Comes Around

WUMB’s 3rd Thursday At The Burren live concert broadcast for August wraps up Year Two of the series.  And what a way to do it.  We’ve got Dennis Brennan.

I am loath to call people “legend.”  But from the first moment I saw Dennis Brennan perform, I felt like he should have been spoken of on the other side of the country – where I am from – in the same terms as other famous  “legendary” Boston musicians.  He’s got the grit and the passion.  He can rock out to where you think his bones are about to leave the bonds of his skin to dance about the stage.  The next moment he can croon a soulful country blues ballad to make you reach for the box of hankies.  He’s got songs with drama that sound like they were ripped from the paper (not the online edition).  And the performances never seem fake.  Solo or surrounded by the best musicians in town, Dennis Brennan always sounds like the song matters.   So some call him a Boston legend.  For whatever untenable reason, he is still what I call him:  a secret treasure of the Boston music community.  I hope he is OK with that.  But I’ve always felt Dennis Brennan deserved better.  Certainly, the rest of the country continues to miss out.

When I got to Boston, I wanted to be a host/DJ that was relevant on a radio station that mattered.  Boston radio’s heyday was full of that.  By the time I got here…not nearly as much.  But my first station felt like part of that legacy.  I’d been in town just under two years and at this station just over a year when they set me up to interview a local musician.  I wanted to be more relevant than, “hey, you’re a local guy!  Local, local, local.  I’m on Boston radio and I’m talking to a local guy.  Oh cool!”  To avoid that dreadful scenario, I called my friend Kevin.  Besides being one of my first friends here in Boston, Kevin’s crossed paths with many musicians back to the days of Chris Smither and Bonnie Raitt in the Cambridge scene.  I figured if anybody could help me be credible in my first Boston radio interview, it was Kevin.

“Hey Kevin, I’m being set up with my first interview next week.  It’s with a guy named Dennis Brennan.  You know anything about him?”  Kevin’s jaw doesn’t just drop, it makes a divot in the floor.  “You…you just got off the boat here from California and you’re about to interview Dennis Brennan??”  Kevin proceeds to drop positive feedback about Dennis that is almost visceral in its praise.  “Calm down,” I tell him, “I’m sure he’s fine.  Just tell me some things about him.”

I do not remember what Kevin told me about Dennis.  All I remember – besides Dennis’ friendly demeanor when he greeted me – was his performance over the three songs he did in the interview.  He brought the dramatic tension in the first song.  Beads of sweat formed on his forehead as the passion built in his second song.  On the third song I thought his bones were about to jump out of his skin and dance around the studio.  I walked out of there a total Dennis Brennan believer.   I’ve been happily shouting his praises ever since.

Now I’m at one of the few remaining music radio stations in Boston that I think matters.  And now Dennis Brennan is performing at one of our signature events.  Who knew you could make progress even when the circle seems to come around.

If you’ve never seen Dennis Brennan live before, come down to the Burren in Davis Square, Somerville on Thursday August 16th.  Treat yourself…you probably deserve it.  Oh remember, WUMB members get a significant discount.  If you cannot make it in person, listen to the show on WUMB or online at wumb.org.  We will start broadcasting at 6pm.  Then we broadcast the concert starting at 7:30.  I hope you will be there.

~ Perry Persoff

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