The formula for Mason Jennings's success is quite simple: The more people hear his music, the bigger he becomes. Like so many aspiring troubadours, Jennings got his start driving from coffee shop to coffee shop and peddling records out of the back of his van. But unlike the experience of most coffeehouse crooners, a devoted Jennings fan base quickly snowballed, and he was forced to move into bigger and bigger venues, press more and more CDs, and eventually sign to a major label (Glacial Pace, an offshoot of Sony's Epic) to keep up with the demands of his rocketing indie-stardom. Thursday night's solo show at First Avenue has become an unofficial yearly tradition for Minneapolis fans, who jump at the chance to cram in like sardines and hang on his every swooping vocal melody and acoustic guitar strum. With Janey Winterbauer & Marc Perlman, and Matt Jennings. 18+.
Thu., Dec. 27, 6 p.m., 2007