Duennebier takes on Saratoga Springs

Posted by Eli Cohen

Saratoga Springs's historic Caffé Lena has had the honor of hosting some of the biggest names in folk music, as well as holding the title of being the oldest continually running coffee house in the U.S.

Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie and Emmylou Harris have all stood on that stage, the same stage upon which Don McLean debuted his legendary "American Pie."

While the name might have been somewhat lesser known (for now) and the crowd somewhat smaller, on Feb. 9, the audience was still greatly engaged.

Jonny Duennebier ‘13 entered fashionably late to the warm welcome of an enthusiastic crowd and immediately got down to business.

During the few moments between songs, Duennebier made friendly interactions with the crowd, but when the music started, his eyes were closed half the time and he never lost focus or looked away from the piano.

While commanding the room with his intensity, Duennebier played eleven songs in rapid order, including three covers and one jam.  

The initial sound conveyed by Duennebier was that of a jazzier Ben Folds. In fact of the three songs that Duennebier covered, the Ben Folds song that more closely resembled his own style was "The Luckiest."

The next song he played was "88," the first song that Duennebier ever wrote. The performance was unchanged from the original until the featured guest, Duennebier's fellow class and suitemate, Daniel Fisher ‘13 entered on the drum set halfway through.

Fisher went on to play the next three songs with Duennebier, including "Ol' 55," a cover of one of Tom Waits's earliest songs.  While it would seem that Duennebier, with his pop piano style and somewhat high-pitched clear voice, would not be able to pull off a Tom Waits song, he made it his own, so that it sounded like it was written for him.

Duennebier's third-to-last song, "For Lilah," was particularly captivating, especially with the introduction: "You might notice that the lyrics in this next song are particularly, um, good. And that's because I didn't write them. My sister did."

He then launched into a beautiful ballad that supports Duennebier's opinion of the quality of the words.  The lyrics are good.  Very good in fact.

Duennebier wrapped up his nearly hour-long show with a rocking rendition of "All Along the Watchtower" with Fisher, but that was not enough for the audience.

To the great satisfaction of the crowd, Duennebier leaned over to Fisher and chose a new song.  He displayed his sense of humor and style by finishing with the 80's British pop band, The Outfield's "Your Love," consequently getting it stuck in the heads of everyone who left the show.

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