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January 9, 2009

Marijke Rowland: Oakdale singer/songwriter gears for national solo tour

From the looks of his schedule, Oakdale's own Brett Dennen has "total media domination" on his New Year's resolutions list.

This month, the 1997 Oakdale High School graduate and former Modesto Junior College student begins a publicity barrage that includes a headlining national tour and major TV appearances.

The 29-year-old singer/songwriter released his third full-length album, "Hope for the Hopeless," in October.

Now, after two summers of touring in support of hitmaker John Mayer, Dennen is going it alone on a 54-city national tour starting Jan. 16.

But before he hits the road, Dennen will hit the small screen Wednesday for his second appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." He will also appear on the "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" in February.

Praise for the up-and-coming artist has been streaming in steadily since his second album, 2006's "So Much More," broke him into the national spotlight.

In 2007, Rolling Stone named Dennen an "Artist to Watch," and in 2008, Entertainment Weekly listed him among its "Guys on the Rise: 8 Emerging Singer-Songwriters."

Last year, he appeared on "Good Morning America," NPR's "World Cafe" and "Last Call with Carson Daly." His song "Ain't Gonna Lose You" also was featured during an episode of "Grey's Anatomy."

While Dennen has played smaller dates in support of "Hope for the Hopeless," this will be his first major tour of the album, complete with supporting acts.

Opening for him on various dates will be fellow "Grey's Anatomy" favorite Erin McCarley and Australian duo Angus & Julia Stone.

Tickets for his three-month national tour are on sale through Seats range from $15 to $22.

The tour will kick off Jan. 16 in Florida and swing through 30 states from coast to coast (and even a few Canadian cities) before ending its run in Utah.

Dennen's tour brings him back to California in March. His closest stop to his Central Valley roots will be March 20-21 at the Fillmore in San Francisco and March 22 at the Boardwalk in Sacramento.

To keep up with the latest on Dennen, visit his Web site at

Elsewhere around the Scene: Fans of clear-voiced female singers take note.

Up-and-coming Australian singer/songwriter Lenka will perform at Modesto Virtual, 947 10th St., on Jan. 16.

The actress-turned-singer was one of the headliners of the B93.1 FM Acoustic Christmas show last month. But instead of an abbreviated set like she did at that show, the Modesto Virtual performance is part of the singer's winter tour.

Lenka's self-titled solo debut reached No. 3 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers charts. Its first single, the catchy "The Show," was featured in Old Navy's back-to-school campaign and the fall promo campaign for ABC's "Ugly Betty."

Her Modesto Virtual show is open to all ages, and doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $12. Visit www.timgardea for more information. ...

Black Oak Casino is now the place to go each week for laughs.

The casino has turned its popular Comedy Showcase into a weekly series. The shows will feature a headliner along with other touring comics on each bill.

Coming up will be performers from the San Francisco Comedy Competition this Thursday, then "The Asian With a Southern Accent," Henry Cho, Jan. 22; NBC "Last Comic Standing" finalist Tammy Pescatelli and former "Hanging With Mr. Cooper" star Mark Curry, Jan. 29; "Saturday Night Live" alum Victoria Jackson, Feb. 12; and "Girls Behaving Badly" star Kira Soltanovich, Feb. 19.

All shows are free and start at 8 p.m. at Willow Creek Lounge. Visit ...

And finally, longtime area favorite The BluesBox Bayou Band lost a member of its family over the holidays.

Former drummer Rudy Knight passed away after an illness. Band members said they always will remember Rudy's talent, humor and support. Memorial services were held earlier this week. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Community Hospice, 4368 Spyres Way, Modesto 95356.

Bee entertainment writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at or 578-2284. Read her blog SceneIt at

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