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ISSUE 117 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/21/2003

Driscoll delights

By Nik Maier
Staff Writer

Friday, November 21, 2003

On Nov. 8, from 8-10 p.m., Thorson lounge was the setting for one of the best concerts at St. Olaf this year. The show featured musician Dennis Driscoll, who performed on an audience member's acoustic guitar, due to his own electric guitar freezing on the car ride to Northfield.

Driscoll's offbeat musical style can be characterized as "twee" – a genre defined by its simplicity, puppy love, and willful childishness.

It was not so much Driscoll's music, however, as his beguiling quirkiness, that made the show worthwhile. Were it not for his understated sense of humor, I doubt many people would have stuck it out to the end of the evening. Two stanzas into one of his songs, someone sneezed on the right side of the room. Driscoll stopped playing, looked in the direction of the sneezer and said "bless you" with nothing but the utmost sincerity, then immediately began playing again.

The material in the concert was largely Driscoll's, though he mixed in a healthy portion of covers. Driscoll explained that he plays covers to learn more about pop culture. If this truly is his goal, then he might consider covering some other songs, for the ones he used were fairly obscure, consisting of songs such as one from the Jerky Boys soundtrack.

Though some of the covered material was decent, it was when Driscoll sang his own songs that he truly shined. On songs such as "Alissa," Driscoll's endearingly unsophisticated love ballad style was enough to bring a smile to even the most stoic listener. Twice during the concert, Dennis performed a rap. These were not, however, the type of raps one might hear from Eminem or Jay-Z; they could just as easily have been written by a five-year-old with an exceptionally large vocabulary. The first one dealt with his love of tea, while his second rap implored the listener to go and climb a tree with him.

The concert did have several low points. Driscoll's attempt at a Buddy Holly cover was less than spectacular, and he forgot the second half of one of his own songs, "Penelope," and had to stop singing. Driscoll was so candidly honest about his failures in both instances, however, that his charm made up for his mistakes.

Driscoll’s honesty about his music extended to his recordings, as well. After the concert he confessed that one of his albums was “hit and miss” and recommended a different recording as being better.

Though nothing can quite compare to meeting Driscoll in person, I would recommend listening to his latest album, “Mysterium, Mysterium,” which stays true to the mild, child-like musical style in which Driscoll performed.

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