• 26 Letters - 12 Notes

    26 Letters ~ 12 Notes
    Artist: Dave Mason
    Label: Out The Box Records
    Reviewed: August, 2011

    Twenty-six letters in the alphabet. Twelve notes in the musical scale.  

    Think about those words for just a moment or two.  Pretty much everything can be written or played if you have unlimited access to either one.  One might think that someone like Dave Mason, who has been in the rock and roll world for over 40 years, might have written and played everything he ever thought about writing or playing.  While that might be an understandable assumption, it’s dead wrong.

    Mason’s twentieth album (counting ‘best of’s” and the like), 26 Letters ~ 12 Notes, proves that this rock and roll icon still has quite a bit of relevant things to write and play – and all incredibly pleasing to the ear.  I picked up this 2008 release a few months ago in the lobby of the Granada Theater here in Dallas after catching a phenomenal performance by Dave Mason (read the review here).  I walked to my car and immediately popped the CD into my player.

    Wow!  The music that spilled off of that disc, while relatively new, had the sounds and effect of being timeless – as if it has existed from the beginning of rock.

    Letters is a twelve song project, half of which was either written or co-written by Mason himself.  Two of the tunes, How Do I Get To Heaven (my personal favorite) and You’re Standing in My Light were co-written and written, respectively, by Mason’s former Traffic band mate, Jim Capaldi, who succumbed to stomach cancer in January, 2005.

    The opening cut, Good 2 U, is a showcase of Mason’s signature silky smooth voice and is a crowd favorite during Mason’s performances.  Dave’s guitar playing is as great as ever on this and all of the rest of the tunes on the album.

    Following Good 2 U is Let Me Go, which, in my mind, has many flavors of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower which Mason fans are very well aware of the fact that he played acoustic guitar on the Jimi Hendrix cover of that song.  Also a crowd pleaser when performed, this song would be a major hit on radio if radio went back to doing its job.  Just sayin’ . . .

    Pink Lipstick is an incredibly well written, “Dylanly” sung tune that intrigues me every time I listen to it.  I would pay a lot of someone else’s hard earned money to find out who that song is about. I’d wager it’s about some trust fund queen that is merely famous for being famous.  Just a hunch.

    The aforementioned How Do I Get To Heaven is well worth the price of the album just on its own.  As I told Mr. Mason during my interview with him (here), if one could wear out ether like we used to be able to wear down the grooves of vinyl records, I would have worn this song completely out.  This song is one of most beautifully written and performed newer songs I’ve heard in a long time.  If radio would just do what it used to do, this song would dominate the airwaves.

    Another cut from this album that deserves massive airplay is Passing Thru The Flame.  Perfectly played guitar and Mason’s still youthful vocals conjures up all sorts of feelings of nostalgia.  The album closes with Full Circle And Then, a beautiful song of love and rekindling of relationships that is sure to cause you to set your player on repeat.

    You can order or download 26 Letters ~ 12 Notes by clicking on the image above or by going to Mr. Mason’s store at www.davemasonmusic.com. It’s a must have for any Dave Mason and/or Traffic fan.

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  • Dave Mason

    Posted July/August, 2011


    davemason2I suppose that, if I could conjure up an uber cool classic rock and roll resume for myself, it would feature such achievements as working on some of the most history making albums in rock, write some of the most memorable songs in rock and play with some of the most iconic figures in rock.

    And, I suppose that if I did such a conjuring of that resume, it would wind up looking much like the life and legacy of legendary rocker, Dave Mason.  For instance, Mason was a member of the ground breaking group, Traffic, having worked on their first two studio albums, Mr. Fantasty and  Traffic  as well as their live album, Welcome to the Canteen.   He played acoustic guitar on Jimi Hendrix’s cover of the Bob Dylan tune, All Along the Watchtower on Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland album.  Though not credited for it, he reportedly worked on the Rolling Stones album, Beggars Banquet. He also worked on George Harrison’s album, All Things Must Pass.

    When he wasn’t helping out his rock and roll friends, Mason was very busy cranking out very high quality and notable hits on his own solo albums – songs like Just for You, We Just Disagree  and even a duet with Michael Jackson entitled Save Me.  In addition to Harrison, Hendrix and Jackson, Mason worked with such rock royalty as Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Fleetwood Mac and Eric Clapton.

    I couldn’t possibly have come up with that kind of dream rock and roll resume in my own feeble mind. That’s what makes Dave Mason’s life and career incredibly intriguing, making me wish that I could trade my resume for his.  Since that isn’t ever going to happen without landing me in jail for identity theft, I, like you, am more than content to enjoy Mason’s wonderful legacy that grows with every performance and new tune.

    I had the privilege of catching Mr. Mason’s show during a recent stop here in the Dallas area (the review of that show is here).  The show was phenomenal and, on my way out of the venue, I picked up a copy of his latest CD, 26 Letters ~ 12 Notes (read the Boomerocity review of it here).  While I didn’t get to interview Mr. Mason at that time, the opportunity did afford itself recently to chat about his participation in the Hippiefest 2011.

    Hippiefest is an annual event – a touring festival of sorts – where some of our most favorite artists from the 60’s and 70’s join together for a brief tour to reconnect with fans.  I had the privilege off attending the 2009 Hippiefest tour and had the honor of interviewing the legendary guitarist for Mountain, Leslie West. The tour is always a load of fun and is guaranteed to bring back a boat load of fond memories for those of us who were back in the day and is sure to introduce younger generations to real rock and roll music and legends.

    Hippiefest 2011 begins in August when Dave Mason will join rock luminaries Rick Derringer, Mark Farner (here), Gary Wright (here), and Felix Cavaliere for a musical phenomena that will definitely go down in the history books as one of the best musical values of the year if not for all time.

    When Mr. Mason called me from his California offices, we started off by discussing his participation in Hippiefest. I asked him if he had been involved in any other Hippiefests and if he had worked with any of the participating artists before.

    “No, I haven’t done any others. I’ve done shows over the years with Mark Farner – both with Grand Funk and solo.  Gary Wright – I know Gary from back in my days with Traffic. Gary used to be with Spooky Tooth. I think from purely an audience point of view, it might be one of the better valued ticket price out there this summer.”

    Dave has toured the world many times over in his 40+ years in the rock world.  With so many miles traveled, I asked him what’s changed about touring.  His answer was short and sweet, designed to elicit nervous laughter by the truth of it all.

    “Mad bombers and TSA.”

    I asked him what he missed about touring during the old days, he replied, “No mad bombers and no TSA.”

    The weight of those comments and insights, brief as they were, still weighs heavy on my mind as I contemplate the impact 9/11 has had on the world.

    In 2004 Dave Mason, Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, as the original members of Traffic, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Prior to this interview, I asked the CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a comment on Mason. He had this to say about the rock icon:

    “He’s a great guy. He’s one of the most, I think, approachable folks that I’ve worked with here – particularly relative to the inductees but also artist in general. He has a great since of humor and a great spirit of life and playing.  He’s also a great friend of the museum.  What I think is interesting about Dave is – and I mean this sincerely – he’s one of those artists that, I think, has upped his game over the years in terms of great work with Traffic.  A great, significant, individual career. But even now, with this last album – which I gave the last album to all of my board members and they all loved it. It’s an album that is so readily listenable – the quality of his guitar playing and the quality of his singing.  He did not stand still.  The gods blessed him with talent and something that remains with him at the same level he had when he was younger.”

    With that in mind, I asked Mr. Mason two stupid questions: How did that feel and what has that meant to him?  His answers were heartfelf.

    “Well, obviously, it’s nice to be recognized for the work that Traffic did. I was basically only there for the first two albums. I wrote half of the first two albums and there was that Welcome to the Canteen (Traffic’s live album released in 1971). There’s been multiple ‘best of’s’ and more ‘best of’s’.  It was a great time. I was eighteen but, on the other hand, it was not cool because there was – it’s hard to explain it without being ‘sour grapes’ but Steve (Winwood) just made it very difficult to do it as a unit.  It was more his show than it was Traffic’s, frankly. He dictated what was going to be done and what wasn’t going to be done. And the bottom line is they wanted to do Dear Mr. Fantasy.  They go, “Well, we want to do Dear Mr. Fantasty and we want to do it just like we did it when we were eighteen” and I’m, like, “Excuse me? That was a long time ago. Why would Traffic even want to do it the same way?’

    “See, I classify Traffic as one of the original alternate bands.  A lot of stuff we did on stage was jamming. So, to me, it was a question of, ‘Well, let’s just get up there and let’s blaze it out, trade guitar solos and, basically, do the song but give it a fresh approach because it’s open for it.’ They go, ‘No, that’s not going to happen.’ Then I go, ‘Well, I’ll just stand up and play acoustic guitar.’  ‘No, that’s not going to happen. You’ve got to play bass!’

    “I played bass on the original version and I played bass on a song called Dealer. I haven’t picked up a bass or played a bass since I was eighteen and I’m 65 now!  It was like, ‘Guys, it’s not my instrument. Let’s get up and make this happen.’

    “So, that was the problem. It was sort of a bittersweet kind of event, I suppose, for me. Whatever the problem is – and still, to this day, I have no idea; no clue – it was a great opportunity to take that opportunity to actually do one last round with the last three remaining members because it was a year -  year and a half later that Jim passed away. So, there were just opportunities missed there and that’s unfortunate. One would think that you would work past those things but evidently not. That’s just the way it is.”

    While Mr. Mason was offering reflections on his career, I asked him what, of all the questions and interest in his work, what would be the one thing that he feels has been least covered and understood about his work?

    With a laugh, Mason responds. “Oh, gosh!  I don’t know. I think, personally, more from a music business standpoint, I’m just sort of hidden under the radar. I’m as good as I’m ever going to be at this point – of being ‘Dave Mason’.  The singing is still strong. The playing is still there. I’ve always tried to keep my music somewhat timeless and I think that works in a lot of songs. To me it’s either good music or it’s bad music. I listen to all kinds of music. Either I relate to it or I don’t. You know, like everybody, it’s subjective.

    “It’s like, Terry Stewart, ‘When are you guys going to book me up for an induction?’” Mason rhetorically asks with a laugh.  “It’s not like I haven’t done quite a bit in this career of mine and influenced a lot of people and made a great classic album. So, it would seem that he would put me up there for something. But, otherwise, I can’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, wasting my time with that. We go on. Obviously, I haven’t played the huge venues that I used to play back in the 70’s but it doesn’t matter. What we do do we pretty much sell out. It’s still a great audience there and we have a great time playing.”

    What hasn’t Mason done, musically that he still wants to accomplish?

    “Music for a movie. It doesn’t matter what kind of movie. With the way I write, it would probably be for some sort of human interest story.”

    As I mentioned at the beginning of this interview, I picked up Mason’s latest album, 26 Letters 12 Notes, that came out in 2008.  It’s a must-have for connoisseurs of rock and roll in general and Dave Mason and/or Traffic fans in particular.  I love the whole album but I think my favorite cut is How Do I Get To Heaven.  After telling Mr. Mason my honest, positive opinion of the album, I asked him what crowd reaction has been to any of the songs performed off of it.

    “I only do a couple of songs live most of the time – Good 2U and Let Me Go.  I did that album over a five or six year period. The problem is radio is the weak link in everything. So there’s no way for anybody to hear anything new. There’s no DJ’s except if you’re in small, little, local markets you’ll find that occasional station but on a national level it doesn’t exist. It’s crazy. When I do listen to it (radio) – which I don’t – you never know who they just played anyway. There’s no back sell – there’s nothing. It’s just wallpaper for selling stuff. It’s the day music died, you know? Satellite helps a little bit but there’s, what, five or six million members?  You’re talking about a country of over 300 million people here.

    “Back when radio was radio and you had DJ’s, you had songs up there being played, at least you had the opportunity for people to hear it and buy it. That whole thing is nonexistent. The bottom-line is that nobody is really playing anything new by artists like me at all. They just keep regurgitating the same stuff.  Even kids that come to my shows and I talk to about it, they go, ‘Well, we don’t even listen to it because it’s boring – there’s nothing going on.’  So, that whole human component thing was taken out of there. Whether it was to reduce their costs, streamline it or whatever – I don’t know. I have to feel that somewhere down the line it will have to come back somewhere.

    “But that the reason why I think talk radio has become so big, because there’s somebody there. There’s actually somebody there talking – with an opinion so you can yell at the radio or agree with them, whatever.  They’ve taken all of that personal touch – that human touch – out of it (rock radio) and, without that, it’s just wallpaper. But, like I said, I have kids at my shows that get it! They say, ‘Well go to the internet. We’ll look for something else.’ They got it. They go, ‘What’s the second half of the show going to be like?’ and I go, ‘It’s going to be exactly like the first half!”

    I asked Mr. Mason a question that I often ask artists of his stature: What’s been the biggest POSITIVE change, in his opinion, in the music industry since the 60’s/70’s?

    “Basically, because of everything that’s happened, it’s kind of gone full circle. When I started, you made a single. If you got a hit with a single, then you made an album. It was all very singles driven. For the most part, it’s sort of where it’s gone back to. When I say that I won’t make another CD, I’m not going to make another album like that to go out to the market because there is no market.  Basically, that CD might be sold out there in the public about, I don’t know, 12 or 13 thousand albums/CD’s. Most of the stuff I’ll have to sell door-to-door like peddling Encyclopedia Brittanica or Tupperware and doing it at the shows.

    “But the only other way for me, at this point, will be interviews like this. Where I’ve got it set up is I’ve revamped my entire website and I have a recording studio at home and I keep recording at home. There are a lot of great, old songs that I want to re-cut and do a different way. And there’s some stuff that’s new but it’s all going to be available at DaveMasonMusic.com. That’s where you can go if you want to download any Dave Mason music.  I don’t have a lot of stuff up there right now because it’s only been a couple of months since that thing was done and I’m still tweaking it out a little bit. I’m just going to keep feeding it into my website and, hopefully, people will enjoy it. I mean, for a $1 or $1.50 per download for music – that’s the biggest bang you’re going to get for the cheapest amount of money on pretty much anything you buy. You can play it over and over and over again. And the internet is a wonderful tool but it’s a double edged sword. It’s allowed everybody to steal everything. That’s just an odd situation to me. If you can digitize it, you can steal it.”

    As our time was up, I asked Mr. Mason one final question: When he’s stepped off of the tour bus for the final time and Dave Mason has left this building called “Earth”, how do he want to be remembered?

    After several seconds of thought, he responds, “Well, my thing with life before me goes along with my philosophy of everything – not that I’ve always succeeded, personally, but I like to leave things in a better place than I found them. That would be my quote.”

    I’m of the honest opinion that, at least musically, he has done, and continues to do, exactly that.

    You can catch Dave Mason during most of the stops during Hippiefest 2011.  As I mentioned before, it’s an incredible opportunity to relive some quality rock and roll memories.  You can also keep up with the latest developments in Mr. Mason’s career by visiting www.davemasonmusic.com and, while you’re there, you can sign up for his newsletter and check out his store for any music of his that might be missing in your collection.

  • Dave Mason Discusses His Traffic Jam Tour

    Posted October, 2014

    DAVEMASONPhotoCREDITPhotobyChrisJensen 0 0 cropPhoto by Chris JensenIf one were to make a list of attributes of a rock and roll icon, all of the qualifying boxes on that list would be checked under Dave Mason’s name.

    • Great guitarist. Check
    • Songwriter.  Check.
    • Wrote and recorded songs that are part of the soundtrack of the baby boomer generation.  Check.
    • Played with rock’s most historic figures like Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, The Rolling Stones and more.  Check.
    • Has been – and still is – an actively amazing performer and concert draw. Check.
    • Still putting out great music that people love. Check.
    • An inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Check.

    Dave Mason is all of that and more.  An energetically dynamic sixty-eight year old rocker, the co-founder of the legendary group, Traffic, still records fantastic, relevant music and still tours the country - and the world.
    I recently contacted Mason at his California home to discuss his latest album, “Future’s Past,” and his current tour.  This was my second opportunity to interview the rock legend (the first interview is here).  Always warm and engaging, we started off our chat by discussing “Future’s Past”. For the rare fan who might not know the story behind the album, I asked Mason if he would tell readers what motivated him to record it.

    “I have a studio at home. Making a CD or album like we used to, it’s something that I’ve kind of throw out the window at this point. But that being said, music is my life so, when I’m home, I’m always working on something in my studio. Albeit, it may be a revised version of an older song – I have versions of songs that I loved when I was growing up. There’s Eddie Cochran that I’ve done that hasn’t been released. And, then, I have new stuff that I’ve worked on.

    “So, to say that I was consciously putting an album together – I wasn’t. But what I do have, as I said, is I just have a collection of music that I constantly keep making. A lot of it is never in one style, which has presented a problem in the sense that it’s hard to pigeon hole me, musically. Am I rock? Am I ballads? Am I blues? I’m not any one of those. I just want to cover the gambit of songwriting.

    “So, I have a collection of stuff and I had some things sitting there and there was some stuff that I revisited. Like, I did a re-write of that version of ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’ and, yes, I was going out to do ‘Traffic Jam’ so it seemed appropriate to put a couple of things on that CD from that era. Then, I had some things like, ‘Sad and Deep As You,’ that I put on there that was from ‘Alone Together’ – my first solo album. It was such a strong and powerful version that I felt that it should go on there.

    “So, essentially, I had a mix of stuff that was new and old and, hence, the title eventually becoming ‘Future’s Past’. A lot of my fans who have been following me for years, for them some of that stuff is old material. As an artist, one lives in the hope that there are some younger people that, to them, this will all be brand new material.

    “Music, for me, doesn’t span any age or style. The music’s just good music. Essentially, ‘Future’s Past’ was just me putting together a collection of stuff that I thought was pretty cool and represented some things I was doing at the moment and part of what I do in my shows. Then, I was lucky enough to have a friend send me some stuff from Graham Nash’s art show and one of the things that he had was the cover which is done by Graham. It’s a photograph of me in the seventies when I was at his house in Kauai and he did artwork on it. So, the cover is done by Graham and it sort of seemed to fit perfectly with the title.”

    Record sales for most artists in all genres have been tough over the past several years. Internet piracy is still a problem, DaveMason 94 photocreditbyChrisJensenPhoto by Chris Jensendetrimentally affecting album sales and decimating what we once knew as the record industry.  When I asked Dave what sales for “Future’s Past,” his matter-of-fact answer echoed those I’ve heard from virtually every other artist I’ve had the privilege of interviewing.
    “Well, record sales are pretty much non-existent these days for anybody. We just basically have CDs at the shows.”

    He continued by responding in a way that validated everything else I’ve heard about record sales.

    “Everybody is stealing everything. That’s the easy way to put it. They’re taking it all off of the internet – which goes for literature, as well. All intellectual property is somewhat being decimated by the internet – but that’s been happening for a few years now.

    “For any artist, it doesn’t really matter. I mean, even with Beyoncé and that new record, because a big corporation ordered a bunch of CDs to give away, otherwise, there are no record sales. They’ve just disappeared because everybody is just taking it from the internet. Some people are downloading and purchasing stuff, but for all us artists, a huge part of our life has disappeared. If I was to say, ‘Record sales are great!’ I’d be bullshitting and lying to you. It’s not just me. It’s pretty much any classic artist and any other artist. What would’ve been a big selling record, say, a half a million records or something like that, would now be maybe twenty thousand CDs.

    “I’m not just cryin’ the blues for myself. I’m just saying that’s what’s happening to all of us. People would rather spend five dollars on a café frappe latte mocha than they would spend a dollar on a piece of music that’s going to last them forever.”

    That all said Mason has, obviously, faced the piracy issue head on and has been an early adopter of online marketing and social media engagement of his extensive, global fan base.  One only has to sign up for his newsletter on his website (here) or follow him on Facebook (here) or Twitter (here) to see that he’s mastered the medium. As he remains resilient and adaptable to market changes, I’m sure that we’ll continue to observe Dave implement technology and changes in social media and implement them into his marketing efforts.
    Our conversation shifted to his current Traffic Jam tour and the shows that are going to be held in my home region of East Tennessee.

    “I’m looking forward to playing down there in Tennessee and some other states. I haven’t played these places in years! I’ve played Atlanta but not a lot of other places like Chattanooga and some other places but, I mean, it’s been years and years since I’ve played those places. I’m very much looking forward to playing there and hoping people will remember to come out. The band is great. The show is great. I’m as good at being Dave Mason as I’m going to be .Ha! Ha!”

    As for the current band line-up and what fans can expect at one of the Traffic Jam shows, Mason said, “Alvino Bennett is still playing drums with me. Johnne Sambataro is playing guitar as well and I have a great keyboard player named Tony Patler but he also handles bass. So, basically, it’s just a four piece band and we push out a lot of music for a four piece band.

    Mason said about the show, itself, that, “Basically, the Traffic Jam show runs about two hours and we do it in two sections. The first half of it is pretty much the songs from Traffic days when I was with them. Then we take a fifteen minute break and then we come back and we do stuff from my solo career. Along with it all there’s some visual stuff that goes with it. I’ll BS a little bit and tell some stories. You’ll get a bit of everything but I’m sure that there’s something that I’m going to not do that somebody will want.”

    To that point, I had to ask Dave which version of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” he would be playing during the Traffic Jam tour.

    “It will be the way it is on ‘Future’s Past’. Song-wise, I prefer it. I really came up with it because I was doing acoustic shows a year or so ago and I was trying to find a more interesting way to do it acoustically. The original version, basically, only has three chords to it and, so, there wasn’t a lot of places to go, acoustic-wise, with it. I came up with this version, again, I just started messing around with it and we thought it started sounding pretty cool.”
    When I ordered “Future’s Past” directly from his website, I took advantage of a pre-release offer wherein he also sent gave his live album, “Dave Mason Live at Belmont Park 1978”. What an amazing offering! Naturally, I was curious if he had any other goodies in the vault that might be released.

    DAVEMASONPhotoCREDITPhotobyChrisJensen 0 0Photo by Chris Jensen“Yeah, I’m planning on a new CD which comes out at the end of this year or the beginning of next year – I’m not sure, yet. But, yes, we are working on some other combinations like that.”

    Almost as an afterthought, I told Mason that my favorite song of his was “How Do I Get To Heaven” from his “26 Letters, 12 Notes” album, to which he replied, “Yeah, it’s a really beautiful song. It’s an example of something that would have – to our opening conversation – had this been twenty years ago that would probably have been a hit song.”

    As our call was winding up, I asked Mr. Mason what 2015 looked like for him, tour (and other) wise.

    “According to my agents, there seems to be a large demand for Traffic Jam so we may be playing this out through 2015. And, then, I’m hoping in April, to go to the United Kingdom. I’m not sure if it’s going to entail some of Europe but I haven’t played there in over thirty years. That’ll be interesting. After that, we’re toying around with the idea of doing what would be, ‘Alone Together, Again,’ where part of the show would be the whole of the ‘Alone Together’ album. But, at the moment, it seems that the Traffic Jam thing – there’s still venues that still want to do the show so it will probably go through a good part of next year.”

    To see if Dave Mason is going to be appearing in or near your town, be sure to visit his website, DaveMasonMusic.com. While you’re there, be sure to shop around his online store and take advantage of his signed CD offerings. They’re a definite must-have for your own collection and excellent gifts for the music lovers in your life.

  • Dave Mason In Concert - Dallas, 2011

    Dave Mason In Concert

    January 28, 2011

    Granada Theater, Dallas, Texas

    It’s always a treat to be able to catch a show at the intimate Granada Theater.  There’s not a bad seat in the house and the sound is usually pretty good.  Because of that, I was really looking forward to the Dave Mason show that stopped by there last night. And, again, I wasn’t disappointed.

    The opening act, Big Gus and the Swampadelics, is a local band that I hadn’t had the privilege of listening to until last night.  The leader of the band, guitarist Big Gus Samuelson, says their niche is “Bayou Honky Tonk Soul with a little bit of Zydeco”.  I’d say that just about describes this band.  Tight and solid, these boys know how to rock.  If they were a package on the shelf in a store, the label would say, “Tabasco Included” they’re so hot.  Make sure and catch this band if you ever get the chance.  They’re very entertaining with that Cajun cool vibe thing goin’ on.

    After a brief intermission, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Dave Mason, hit the stage at precisely the advertised time.  Walking out on stage with his top notch band, Mason straps on his white Fender Telecaster and launched into Let It Go, Let It Flow.  As I watched the predominantly Baby Boomer crowd, you could see by the look on many of the faces they were immediately catapulted back in time, to memories of past friends and fun. 

    All the Traffic/Mason favorites were performed and were definite crowd pleasures.  The Steve Winwood written 40,000 Headmen was one of my favorites of the evening. Mason showed his mastery of the guitar (and the wah wah pedal) with an incredibly moving guitar solo.  The hair stood up on the back of my neck – it was THAT good.  Apparently the crowd felt the same as me as the rewarded Mason with a very warm standing ovation.

    I was amused by the very animated Gerald Johnson, Mason’s bassist.  Watching him perform is worth the price of admission alone. Johnson kicked off the Jimmy Reed classic, Baby What You Want Me To Do.  You can’t help but smile and applaud as he smiles, grimaces and shakes his booty as he enjoys jamming with the band.  Joining in the fun was Johnne Sambataro.  No slouch when it comes to playing guitar, Sambataro blew me away with his intricate, soaring solo that absolutely smoked and brought the crowd to their feet yet again.

    In the midst of his rich repertoire of rock classics, Mason played two amazing tunes from his 2008 (and last) CD, 26 Letters 12 Notes.  The performance of Good 2 U and Let Me Go Play I’m sure sparked a sell-out of the CD at the sales table in the lobby.  You’ll definitely want to order this CD.  It’s great!

    Providing the steady, amazing backbeat was Alvino Bennett on the drums.  The man did some amazing stuff with two sticks and some skins.  Providing hair raising sounds from the Hammond B3 was Tony Patler.

    Mason left the Granada crowd satisfied with the flood of memories his rich arsenal of songs brought them.  How I knew that I especially enjoyed the show is realizing that I would gladly pay to see Dave Mason again.  Soon.

    You can keep up with Dave Mason and see when he’s going to be appearing in your city by visiting www.dave-mason.com.

  • Dave Mason Knoxville 2014

    Dave Mason
    November 09, 2014
    Bijou Theater
    Knoxville, TN

    By James Patterson

    Photo by James Patterson


    For those who enjoyed the sounds of "Traffic", the Dave Mason "Traffic Jam" tour will take you back to those reverberations and not disappoint you.  Dave walked onto the stage in his black outfit and long classy scarf and to the cheering audience said. "We'll do two sets tonight, the first will be songs from "Traffic" and the 2nd set will be Dave Mason tunes."; and with that the band started into "Forty Thousand Headmen".  The enthusiastic  crowd loved it!  Then came the really perky songs, "You Can All Join In" and "Pearly Queen".

    Instead of an audience continually standing, it was like they all wanted to sit and take in each song; then after each song, they stood, clapped and screamed.  One time Mason paused to change guitars and from the audience came the shouts, "We love you, Dave". It was also at that moment that Dave went into some history, complete with a slideshow, of his early years in his home town of Worcester England. Explaining it was there where he had teamed up with his mates Steve Windwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood and formed the legendary "Traffic". And, it was there in a small cottage where they worked on their music creations, a cottage that had no running water or electricity (a generator was used to power their amplifiers).  "Heck we were kids, we didn't care, of course all of that changed", Dave said as he began, "Medicated Goo".

    Mason stated, "Here is a song that I've arranged a bit different hope you enjoy it"; right away he ignited the audience with the beginnings of his long and slow bluesy version of, "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys". Then behind the band with projections on the screen of psychedelic graphics, the crowd screams with the intro of "Dear Mr. Fantasy".

    After the break and before Dave goes into his tunes he has another slideshow and enlightens everyone of the many groups and individuals he has worked with including the many who had faired well recording and having successful song hits from his originals.  One such duo on the screen, with photos and videos, Bonnie and Delanie as "Traffic Jam" played,  "You Know and I Know".

     "And you may remember this song which became a huge hit for Joe Cocker", which Dave also explained he wrote when he was 16 years of age…"Feeling Alright". As the band played other Mason hits like, "Alone Together", World of Changes" and "We Just Disagree" it became apparent that not only did Dave Mason still have his strong and awesome vocals, but his band was instrumentally great and were adding terrific harmonies.  Alvino Bennett, Drums; Johnne Sambataro, Guitar/Vocals; and Tony Paler, Keyboards/Vocals. As always, complimenting any band's sound was the wonderful acoustics found in the Knoxville, Bijou Theatre. 

    Dave, ending his outstanding performance; showing his personable side, said, "I'll see you on the way out, and I'll shake the babies, and kiss the hands!" Laughter ended a marvelous evening of classic tunes!

  • Future's Past

    Future’s Past
    Dave Mason
    Label: Something-Music
    Release Date: May 13, 2014
    Review Date: May 11, 2014

    Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Boomerocity favorite, Dave Mason, has a brand spankin’ new album landing this week and, boy, is it another great one! 

    “Future’s Past” clocks in as his thirteenth solo studio album (in addition to his six live solo albums) and offers updated  versions of some favorites tunes from his Traffic days as well as from his previous solo albums in addition to a new song or two.

    Right out of the chute Traffic fans are going to love Mason’s latest treatment of the crowd favorite, “Dear Mr. Fantasy”.  Though the vibe is a little different, the song still carries the intensity of its previous version and Mason’s voice delivers the classic lyrics with  haunting conviction.

    I’m not going to cover all of the other tunes on the album but do want to draw attention to a couple of other songs with the first being “As Sad And Deep As You”.  The delivery, moving.  The guitar work, smoothly phenomenal.  This tune is worth the price of the entire album. Yeah, it’s that good.

    The other song I wanted to point to is the newest song by Mason, “That’s Freedom,” a darkly cynical musical statement about where we are as a self-centered society.  Thought provoking as it is musically brilliant, this song serves as a wake-up call to get our act together.

    Rock history buffs would also be interested in knowing that the album cover was painted by Graham Nash.  How cool is that?

    “Future’s Past” is definitely a must have CD for Traffic fans, Mason fans as well as fans of the music rock and roll can offer.

  • Hippiefest - Detroit, 2011

    Hippiefest 2011
    August 18, 2011
    DTE Energy Music Theater
    Clarkston, MI

    On a warm Thursday evening, I travelled an hour up I-75 to attend Hippiefest 2011 at the old Pine Knob, corporately renamed years ago as the DTE Energy Music Theater. Hippiefest has been going on for a few years, the idea being to group four or five performers from the ‘60’s or ‘70’s together and have them perform concise sets, thereby eliminating the filler tunes that often bog down longer concerts of more seasoned acts. At tonight’s show, each act did about half an hour.

    At the start of the show, while there were a decent amount of people on the grass (I mean the lawn seating), those in the pavilion were few and far between. By the end of the night, most of the seats were filled. It was a mixed crowd of middle-aged, suburban types, younger kids who were either with their folks or on a ‘60’s lark, and a few old counter-culture holdouts that were still letting their freak flags fly. There was plenty of tie-dye and everyone seemed up for it.

    The night kicked off with Felix Cavaliere former lead singer of The (Young) Rascals. He accompanied himself on his well-known Hammond B3 backed by a band that played for most of the evenings’ performers. Felix was in fine voice as he won over the slowly entering audience. He opened with (I’ve Been) Lonely Too Long, segueing into In The Midnight Hour with a few riffs of Sly and the Family Stone and Michael Jackson tossed in. In fact, his style is to start with a verse or two and a chorus of a Rascals’ song followed by a line or two of tribute to other musicians.

    I don’t know if he specifically catered to the Detroit crowd, but there were a lot of Motown lines added. Groovin’ was augmented by a Temptations medley while my Rascals’ favorite, People Got to be Free, morphed into Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ No Where to Run. The people seemed to respond to Mr. Cavaliere’s appreciation of Detroit’s legacy, and by the time he finished his set with Good Lovin’, he met with warm applause and cheers.

    Rick Derringer was up next, opening with Still Alive and Well. The crowd liked the music, but a few appeared confused hearing Jesus mentioned in the lyrics. A tribute, of sorts, to “the troops” began with a distortion-laden version of Star-Spangled Banner, followed by Real American, which some of you might recall as Hulk Hogan’s WWF theme song. After being treated to Hang On Sloopy (which Rick recorded with The McCoys at age 17), he ended his set with his biggest hit, Rock and Roll, Hootchie-Coo, joined by Gary Wright on keyboards. The audience responded well to Mr. Derringer’s guitar pyrotechnics and gave him a good send off.

    The aforementioned Gary Wright began with a couple tunes from his days with the band, Spooky Tooth, the best of which was Better By You, Better Than Me. His songs were longer than the other artists of the evening with plenty of instrumental solos, although there seemed to be issues with his electronic keyboards throughout. The crowd favorites were Dream Weaver and his final song, Love Is Alive. He was joined on Alive by Rick Derringer, who saved his best guitar solo of the night for this song.

    After a short break, the night was wrenched into high gear by a Michigan native, the fabulous Mark Farner. He began on keyboards with Footstompin’ Music, being joined by the crowd on the “woo-ooo-oos,” before cranking up his guitar for The Loco-Motion. Mark’s performance was filled with energy, as he danced about the stage like a madman. His vocal ability hasn’t faded in the slightest; he’s still one of the greatest natural rock vocalists – ever! He was especially able to showcase his singing on Bad Time (To Be in Love), the only tune of the night that wasn’t “full steam ahead.” Several other Grand Funk Railroad songs were included, and when he finished with his set with I’m Your Captain/Closer To Home, the crowd burst into rousing applause and a standing ovation.

    Well done, Mr. Farner.

    The night’s last performer was Dave Mason. Let me retract that. I should say musician, instead of performer. His over 50 years in the business really showed: Dave’s set was the most musical of the evening. He brought out his own people to back him and it made a difference.

    He began with a few songs he recorded with Traffic, which he co-founded at age 18. Let It Go, Let It Flow and Dear Mr. Fantasy were both rich, melodic tunes with fine harmonies by the band. When he hit the 12-string chords for We Just Disagree, the people cheered and sang the entire song with him. After a fine Only You Know and I Know, I moved up into the crowd on the lawn to join the swaying, dancing masses experiencing a truly great version of All Along the Watchtower (Mr. Mason played acoustic guitar on the Jimi Hendrix recording).

    For the final song of the night, Dave was joined on stage by most of the other acts for his classic, Feelin’ Alright, which has been covered by many including Grand Funk and Joe Cocker. It was an appropriate rap-up tune since it appeared to convey the sentiments of both artists and audience: a good time was had by all . . .