Dave Mason

by Rick Grant
n a telephone conversation with Dave Mason in August, he substantiated what I’ve always preached–radio air play creates sales. Without it, it’s difficult or impossible to sell albums.
Mason said, “There are no DJs with freedom to play what they want anymore. Radio stations program their play-lists by computer. They play music from the 1980s or 1990s and never play name artists’ new material.
“Since I can’t get air play for my new material, it’s not worth it for me to record commercial product. I make my living playing live on the road. I introduce new material on stage.”
When I interview other name artists, I hear them complain about being ignored by today’s rock radio stations. Since these vibrant artists are still touring and recording, if the public doesn’t hear their new material, they think they quit the music business or are dead.
At 64, Dave Mason has climbed rock’s highest mountains. He was the co-founder of Traffic, but he left due to creative differences with the other co-founder Steve Winwood. He was involved with the recording of Traffic’s big hit, ‘Mr. Fantasy’ (1967). He recorded with Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stone, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and toured with Fleetwood Mac.
Mason’s known for his mega-hit ‘Feelin’ Alright,’ the song he recorded with Traffic. It was on the top 10 Billboard Charts for many weeks. For Traffic he wrote ‘Hole in My Shoe.’ Mason scored another top 10 hit with Jim Krueger’ song ‘We Just Disagree.’
Over the years, Mason reached legendary status as a hot guitarist and songwriter. He was inducted into the Rock ’N Roll Hall of Fame as part of the original Traffic in 2004.
During our phone conversation Mason said, “Playing live energizes me and I look out at the audience and I see young people checking me out. I have a great band– the best musicians I’ve ever toured with. So, if I can continue to play live, and there’s an audience who pays to come see me, then I’m happy.”
After I listened to Mason’s latest album, 26 Letters, 12 Notes, I was blown away by the quality of this product, including Mason’s smoking guitar playing and his exemplary songwriting. For that session, he was backed up by an all-star lineup of musicians.
I asked him if these were the musicians touring with him now. He said no, but they are even better. So, I can wholeheartedly recommend Mason’s Florida Theater show October 23rd. And, check out Mason’s CD 26 Letters, 12 Notes, too.
Mason’ s Florida Theater show is a benefit for his favorite charity, Work Vessels for Vets (www.workvesselsforvets.org). This organization was started by John Niekrash, who helps returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars set up businesses with start-up capital and advice. Mason is a strong supporter and contributor to this charity.
Niekrash donated a pick-up truck to Adam Burke, a 90% disabled veteran to assist him in developing “Project Blueberry Farm” here in the Jacksonville area. Burke employs other disabled vets as a means to provide for themselves and their families. The venture was helped by Paul Jacey of Stanley Works of New Britain, CT. He spearheaded the effort to fill the pickup truck with Stanley tools and supplies needed to run the farm.
Mason said that “this organization puts the vets back on their feet with start-up businesses because the job market is so depressed in today’s world. More importantly, for vets who are hired to work at Burke’s blueberry farm, working with the soil is therapeutic and helps them through their PTSD.”
Clearly, having someone of Dave Mason’s celebrity status backing Work Vessels for Vets has helped them publicize their righteous work.