Dave Mason, playing the Keys, is doing more than alright
By LARRY KAHN
firstname.lastname@example.orgFebruary 20, 2015
Forgive Dave Mason for not recalling how he spent his time when he visited the Florida Keys around 30 years ago. The singer and songwriter, at it now for 48 years, has a lot of stories to tell, but his Keys visit isn't one of them.
But the founding member of Traffic and onetime member of Derek and the Dominos and Fleetwood Mac returns on Wednesday for what amounts to a private show at Little Palm Island, the exclusive resort about three miles from Little Torch Key on the oceanside. He's on the back side of a tour that started in September and ends in April.
"We did 110 shows last year and we'll probably do the same or more this year," Mason said. "I have a house in California but I pretty much live on this bus right now," he said, referring to his 45-foot Prevost XL2.
Mason is performing on Little Palm as part of the resort's Sandbar Sessions series. Previous performers include Dr. John, Rickie Lee Jones, Aaron Neville and Taj Mahal. Following Mason is Lee Ritenour in March.
Mason, 68, founded Traffic with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood in 1967, and will forever remain linked to the band even though he left it in 1968, just a year after its debut album, "Mr. Fantasy," was released. But he's also on the second album, "Traffic," which contains his timeless track "Feelin' Alright."
That song, which Joe Cocker embraced as his own, is basically "just another love story gone bad." When Traffic was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, Tom Petty, Kid Rock, Jackson Brown, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, and Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, among others, performed "Feelin' Alright."
His other hit about love gone bad is "We Just Disagree," written by guitarist Jeff Krueger and released in 1977.
In between, he spent some time with a little band called Derek and the Dominos, formed by guitarist Eric Clapton in 1970 with Bobby Whitlock, Carl Randle and Jim Gordon. Mason played with the group prior to its "Layla and Assorted Other Love Songs," which actually was panned when it originally came out.
Mason didn't stay on long.
"I was part of the band in the very beginning, when Eric put it together," he said. "That was when Eric started doing heroin and there wasn't much getting done. We were just laying around," so he split.
Mason is asked about that -- the rock legends who were known nearly as much for their drug use as their music. He's asked about his own drug use.
"Who says I didn't? Everybody was doing 'research' back then." What about thriving, not only surviving? "What can I say, it's the luck of the draw there."
Duane Allman replaced Mason.
These days, who does Mason listen to when he's not making music? "I'm not really up on who's around. I'm busy."
That he is. This weekend, he's on Rock Legends Cruise III, which started Thursday at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, heads to the Turks and Caicos, then returns back to Fort Lauderdale Monday. Then he'll make the three-hour trip south to the Lower Keys.
That cruise has a who's who among classic rock: The Doobie Brothers, .38 Special, the Outlaws, Ten Years After, Alice Cooper, the Marshall Tucker Band and Edgar Winter, among others.
"It doesn't get old," says Mason, a man of few words. "It's what I do. I'm lucky to be able to do it and still do it."
Mason's been doing it for decades, performing with so many great musicians and singers through the years, including fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ron Wood, Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Graham Nash
Even though he's been in the hall for more than a decade, he's not a fan.
"Joe Cocker's not in there but Iggy Pop is, that's what I think of it," Mason said. "There's something wrong with that."
He didn't reveal his Little Palm set list but did say he might enjoy some fresh-caught stone crabs while here, "as long as they're not throwing them at me."
Why did he have to go after Iggy Pop? Madonna? Okay. Abba? Sure, why not? Bill Monroe? Hell he probably didn't even want to be in that Hall of Fame. But Iggy Pop was about as rock 'n roll as one can get. I agree Joe Cocker, and the Guess Who, and Yes, and Cheap Trick, and Big Star, and especially Bob Welch...
On and on it will always be, the rhythm, rhyme, and harmony.
THE Stephen Hopkins
Dave definitely sounds like a great performer. I Would definitely love to see one of his shows. Never had the chance to see what he did while he was apart of Fleetwood Mac.
Time cast a spell on you, but you won't forget me.
The Acorn 4/9/2015 By Stephanie Bertholdo
Legendary rocker Dave Mason returns to The Canyon
Fabled rocker Dave Mason is coming back to The Canyon club in Agoura Hills on Sun., April 12. He’s played the venue several times before and always draws raucous applause from his devoted baby boomer followers.
A founding member of Traffi c, the legendary British rock band with such early hits as “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Feelin’ Alright,” Mason later went solo and found recording success with other rock and roll legends.
A guitarist, songwriter and soloist, Mason talked with The Acorn about the long and winding road that has led him back to The Canyon.
“We’ve been out doing the Traffic Jam tour,” Mason said. “It basically kind of turned into more or less a show, going from early Traffic days all the way through (my) current stuff. It’s a musical travelogue of my life at this point.”
Mason said in addition to the live music, his April 12 Canyon show will feature a photographic montage on a large stage screen and commentary from himself about rock’s glory years.
Mason is not only a master musician and vocalist, but an apt storyteller. If you’ve lived through the ‘60s, you know where he’s coming from.
Mason said one of his fondest memories involves the formation of Traffic in 1967. He was barely out of his teens when he started the legendary British group with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, and Chris Wood.
It was truly uncanny how a few square miles of English turf could have produced such rock ‘n roll royalty, he says.
“Basically I was doing what I was doing,” he said. “I couldn’t really give a damn. I had no worries. The first song I ever wrote (‘Hole in My Shoe’) was a really big hit.”
The hugely popular single “Feelin’ Alright” defined Mason’s early success, but he also pointed out, “(The song) became great after Joe Cocker performed it.”
Mason’s personality and musical style soon ran counter to that of Winwood and Capaldi.
“I left after the first year,” he said. “I couldn’t deal with it, frankly.”
A guitarist, singer and songwriter, Mason recorded his own version of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and also did it with friend Jimi Hendrix on his 1968 masterpiece album, “Electric Ladyland.”
Pursuing a moderately successful solo career, Mason went on tour with Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, a married musical duo that just happened to have guitarist Eric Clapton playing alongside.
Finding his main niche behind the scenes, Mason collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Rita Coolidge, Leon Russell, Ron Wood and Mama Cass Elliot. He appears on George Harrison’s first solo effort, “All Things Must Pass,” and was second guitarist for the group Derek and the Dominos.
Fast-forwarding to the present, Mason says changes in the music industry have been disconcerting.
“The Internet just killed it,” he said, referring to the ease in which fans can still snatch songs for free online.
Music, he said, used to be introduced on the radio as fans waited on the edge of their seats to hear the latest songs from their musical heroes.
Profits from album sales are virtually non-existent today, and the only way a musician can make a living is to perform live, he said.
“It was a tough road before,” Mason said of the music industry’s control over album sales. Now, he says, “All that’s left is live.”
But playing live is perhaps what Dave Mason does best.
To attend one of his shows is to relive the glory days of rock ‘n roll.
And Mason loves it.
Last year he performed in 110 shows and has the same extensive tour schedule notched out again this year.
“As long as I can do it, I’ll keep doing it,” he said. “I’m just doing what I do, and that’s it. I think at this point, I can’t change the world.”
Mason is working on a new CD, and preparing to move from his current Ojai home to Carson City, Nevada.
Mason’s goal for his concerts?
“To have people walk out of there in a better mood than when they walked in,” he said.
And that’s not hard to do.
Dave Mason brings Traffic jam to Kauai
June 5, 2015 1:15 am Brittany Lyte - The Garden Island
Rock and roll hall of famer Dave Mason is coming to Kauai next Friday for an evening of rock music time travel.
Kicking off the set with an ode to his early days, Mason will play high notes from the first two albums released by Traffic, the psychedelic English rock group he co-founded in with Steve Winwood when they were teenagers. He’ll then move into the classic records that launched his solo career before finishing with songs from his 2014 album, “Future’s Past.”
“It’s a little musical travelogue all the way back to the days of Traffic and all the way up to the present time,” the 69-year-old Englishman-turned-California resident said.
The show is set for 7 p.m. June 12 at Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center.
Mason has penned dozens of hits, and his legendary guitar work has graced the tracks of the rock and roll elite including Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac. That’s Mason playing 12-string acoustic guitar on Jimi Hendrix’s famous rendition of “All Along the Watchtower.”
As a member of Traffic, Mason wrote the group’s “Feelin’ Alright,” which became an international rock anthem 1968. Though he helped launch the band, he stayed with it only intermittently before relocating to the U.S. to jumpstart his solo act.
“I actually do one Traffic song from the time after I left, it’s a blues version of ‘The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys,’” Mason said, explaining the set he plans to bring to Kauai. “And there are some other songs I’ve tweaked around with a little bit. They’re still recognizable, but I’ve given them a bit of my own touch. From the response we’ve had, people are really liking it.”
Mason plays about 115 shows a year, but he said it’s been 20-something years since he last played a show on Kauai. The upcoming Kauai show is part of a four-island tour, with sets planned on Maui, Big Island and Oahu.
“Playing live is live,” Mason said. “That’s the great part of it. You’re there in the moment. It’s not being in cyber world, it’s live and it’s right there and it’s real.”
In addition to hits and deep album cuts from Traffic’s 1967 “Mr. Fantasy” and 1968 “Traffic” albums, as well as Mason’s solo material, the show will include a visual presentation featuring rare vintage concert posters and photographs of Mason performing through the years. Mason said he’ll also tell tales from the road.
“I’m just very happy to be coming back over there doing these shows and I hope people will come and turn out for this so we can come back again,” he said. “Musically, you will not be disappointed.”
Tickets to “Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam” on June 12 at Kauai Community College’s Performing Arts Center are $45 for general admission and $65 for gold circle seating. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.
By Steven Spearie, Correspondent, State Journal Register
Posted Oct. 21, 2015 at 10:30 PM
First, a music history lesson, compliments of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and founding member of Traffic, Dave Mason.
"The British Invasion was actually an American invasion," insisted Mason, whose "Traffic Jam" tour visits the Sangamon Auditorium Saturday, during a recent phone interview.
"We picked up the legacy of blues music and in doing so, turned America back to its own music."
After all, said Mason, it wasn't "some guy from Scotland who taught Eric Clapton how to play the blues. It was the Chicago blues players.
"As English musicians, we coveted it and molded it into our own."
The 69-year-old Mason said that his appreciation for blues music can be traced back to listening to the BBC while growing up. Music wasn't segregated like on American radio stations, he said, so rock ‘n’ roll meant to him artists as diverse as Little Richard, Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly.
When he moved to Chicago in the early 1980s, Mason, a Brit who is still an alien resident, said he would stop in blues haunts like Kingston Mines and Buddy Guy's Legends, where he would jam with musicians like Guy and Otis Rush, "one of my favorite guitar players of all time." (Rush was debilitated by a 2004 stroke.)
"I'm not per se a blues player," said Mason. "I can pull off certain things, and when I'm soloing, it's all over that."
Even a surprise entry like "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys," penned by Steve Winwood and recorded by Traffic after Mason's departure, "basically becomes a blues song," promised Mason. "It's a completely different arrangement."
Mason rolled out "Traffic Jam" in mid-2014 with the idea of primarily playing material from the group's first two albums, "Mr. Fantasy" and "Traffic," both of which he was part. The other half of the show includes his eclectic solo material, including "We Just Disagree" and "Let It Go, Let It Flow" and cuts from 2014's "Future's Past," making the night, Mason said, "a musical biography."
"I try to pick things that are fun to play," said Mason, whose backing band includes guitarist Johnne Sambataro, the former frontman for Firefall. "When you're out on the road for two to three months at a time, you need to keep it fresh. You don't want to appear as if you're going through the motions."
Mason, who has worked with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Fleetwood Mac over his career, called Traffic, which also included Winwood and the late Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, "one of the original alternative bands."
"The songs might have been written years ago, but they still hold up."
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