|Dave Mason with his good friend Jimi Hendrix
Dave Mason headlines Hippiefest 2011 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Saturday August 27th.
Dave will be sharing the stage with an impressive lineup of classic rock hitmakers.
Joining Dave Mason will be Mark Farner the inspirational leader for Grand Funk Railroad (“We’re An American Band,” “I’m Your Captain,” “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “The Loco-Motion”), Rick Derringer(“Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo,” “Hang On Sloopy”), Felix Cavaliere(“Good Lovin',” “Groovin'” and “People Got To Be Free”) and Gary Wright (“Dream Weaver,” “Love Is Alive” and “Really Wanna Know You”).
Order your tickets right here for an outta sight night of kicking out the Jams.
Songwriter/Guitarist/Vocalist Dave Mason cofounded the band Traffic after Steve Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group. In 1967 Mason left the band after the release of the Mr. Fantasy album. Mason rejoined the band for awhile in 1968 and recorded “Feelin’ Alright,”a song that became Mason’s trademark.“Feelin’ Alright” was covered by Joe Cocker in 1969. Mason went on to join Delaney & Bonnie & Friends in 1969 and released his debut solo album Alone Together producing the hit single- “Only you know and I know” The album reached gold in the U.S. hitting # 22 on the record charts.
Mason shared his extraordinary musical talents with a list of legends- including George Harrison, (Mason appeared on Harrison’s critically- acclaimed album All Things Must Pass) Eric Clapton’s Derek & the Dominos,The Rolling Stones, Leon Russell, Cass Elliot, Fleetwood Mac and his good friend Jimi Hendrix. Mason played his 12- string acoustic guitar on "All Along the Watchtower" and sang on “Crosstown Traffic.”
Dave Mason hit superstardom throughout the 70’s with a handful of highly successful albums reaching platinum and gold status - It’s Like You Never Left, Split Coconut, Certified Live,Let it Flow and Mariposo de Oro. Top 40 hits “We Just Disagree” and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” were spawned from that triumphant period.
In 1978 Mason performed in front of more than 300,000 people at California Jam II.
Mason and Traffic bandmate Jim Capaldi reunited for a tour that produced the 1999 album Live: The 40,000 Headmen Tour. Traffic was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2004.
Here’s my recent interview with renowned songwriter/musician/humanitarian Dave Mason.
Dave, I want to thank you for spending some time with me today, where do you call home nowadays?
“No problem thank you, I live near Santa Barbara in California.”
I understand that this is your first Hippiefest tour. I talked with Mark Farner the other day and he let me know that he and Rick Derringer were actually really good friends. Are you buddies with anyone that you share the bill with?
“Not really, I’ve played shows with all these guys but back in the Traffic days it would be Gary. When Gary(Gary Wright) had a band called Spooky Tooth.”
When I do a Dave Mason search on the web, I see a lot of involvement in charity work. What sort of charity events are you involved with?
“I have a charity that I helped start and I’m very involved with it that we do for veterans. And that is we help people transition out of the service to start their own business. It’s called Work Vessels for Veterans at http://wvfv.net/.”
You also participate in various benefit concerts and celebrity golf classics including partnering with Michael Bolton. Do you play golf Dave?
“No I don’t play golf. Michael Bolton’s charity is for abused women and I’ve done that with his charity for about the last five or six years. And for 14 years he was doing it in Stanford Connecticut and then last year I kind of talked him into trying it somewhere else so we moved it to the Ojai Valley Inn Golf Course and this year we’re combining his charity with the Work Vessels charity and the event out there and on the 23rd of September then I have The Feelin’ Alright Second Annual Golf Tournament in Virginia at Fort Belvoir and that is with a group called (CAMMO) which does a lot of work with vets and music and there’s a number of them that have been signed to recording contracts and it’s pretty interesting you know, last year we had a band that the drummer had titanium legs and those guys were really good. And they’re getting a lot of results with post traumatic stress through the music. So it’s interesting work and a great group of people.” http://cammomusic.org/main/
Music has gotten a lot of our servicemen through tough times over the years especially during wartime.
“I did a Toys for Tots show in Atlanta back in 1977 and I was getting ready to walk up on stage and this Marine came up to me and said “You know man, me and my buddy were stuck in a foxhole for three days and we would have gone absolutely nuts if it weren’t for a Jimi Hendrix tape and a Dave Mason tape.”
You’re doing great work for our vets Dave. Sometimes our veterans are not treated with the respect that they deserve are they?
“The way that our vets are treated when they come back is shameful, they’re kind of swept aside a little bit, I mean you know you’ve got the Veterans Administration and all that stuff but there’s a lot that still could be done, anyways that’s why we pick up the void. There’s a number of us, a number of organizations out there that try to fill those holes, fill that gap.”
Bless you man for all you do.
I want to talk some about your music; your first band was actually called The Jaguars back in the early 60’s and was reminiscent musically to The Shadows and Ventures?
“Yes, that was my first band The Jaguars. I worked a little instrumental version called Opus To Spring when I was about 16 and a local record store put a record out on it. We only did the one recording with that band and then that’s all we did with that. There was another band called The Hellions with Jim Capaldi we had a record out on Pye records that was produced by Kim Fowley, the guy that did ‘They’re Coming to Take Me Away Ha Ha Ho Ho He He.’” And we did a Jackie Deshannon song called “Daydreaming of You.”
And I heard you guys played the famous Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany where The Beatles played?
“No we never got to Hamburg we played some little town outside of Hamburg and played Saturday nights, we use to play for about eight hours on Saturday nights, fifteen minute songs, fifteen off, fifteen on, fifteen off.”
So you knew Jim Capaldi (Drummer and a founding member of Traffic) because of The Hellions?
“Jim and I knew each other for a long time. Jim (Capaldi) grew up 12 miles from me. Yea, Robert Plant also grew up around 12 miles away and John Bonham.”
You met Steve Winwood when he was in The Spencer Davis Group?
“Yea he was in The Spencer Group and The Hellions use to play up in Birmingham which is 25 miles from Worcester and through that we met Steve and Chris Wood and basically we just hung out for a year or so just run into each other and then at one point Steve had decided he was going to leave The Spencer Davis Group. And during that time during that break I’d sung on a couple of their recordings, ‘Somebody Help Me’ and most of Traffic was on ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ and it’s pretty much all of us singing in the background of ‘I’m A Man.’
I kind of played Roadie for a couple of months with them and then we formed Traffic.”
Then you guys rented a cottage in Berkshire?
“A famous jockey had a racing stable down there so we kind of commandeered this cottage sitting in the middle of nowhere. It’s where they trained and canter the horses. There was no gas, no electricity and no running water in the place. We lived there like that for about six months.”
Man that was primitive living. If you didn’t have electricity how did you plug into the amplifiers and rehearse your music?
“We had a generator.”
Those were the good old days huh? (All laughing)
“Yea whatever we were kids, I was 18 years old and you think there’s not anything you can’t do.”
So how did Traffic get their big break?
“Well Steve already had three, four, top ten records so he had kind of an entree in that way and then I started writing and Jim and Steve started writing and my writing I pretty much did on my own and then the problems started to happen when the stuff that I was writing was the stuff picked for singles. And their biggest hit at the time was the first song I’d ever written and was kind of a fantasy tune called ‘Hole in My Shoe’ and that got to number two in England and was really their biggest single hit. After the first album I left and the reason I left was because I couldn’t really deal with the fame so quickly it was just a little overwhelming for me. So I actually left and did a couple of things worked with starting to produce an album for a group called Family, ‘Music in a Dollhouse’ and then I got to know Hendrix and spent a little time recording with him and some of it was on Electric Ladyland.
Then I did a little stint with what was known as a satirical group called The Scaffold, it was Paul McCartney’s brother (Professionally known as Mike McGear) and I did a number of shows with them and so just roamed around playing with different people and then at one point I just took a little bag and a guitar and worked this little island called Hydra (Greece) and I really didn’t have any money at the time but it was a great time and that’s where I wrote ‘Feelin Alright.’”
Then I met up again with them in New York and they were working on the second album, and then he had five songs and I had five songs so it was like okay let’ s get back together again. And I thought it was a really good second album it was a good transition from Fantasy (Mr. Fantasy debut album) it had a lot of kind of Fantasy stuff on it but giving a lot more cohesive I thought musically. And after that album pretty much again my songs were being picked for the singles and that’s just what caused the riff with Winwood. And I pretty much just spent days where he’d never talk to me.”
Wow that’s a real shame. Unfortunately I hear a lot of stories like that in bands.
“Yea, even marriages break up.”
Bands are like a family with lots of emotion and drama.
“The kind of difference is that sometimes it makes things really good though you know. When you’ve got kind of an edge going in there you can create some really good stuff rather than following one thing all the time but at any rate whatever that’s the way it was so at that point I just decided there wasn’t much point to staying in England or Traffic so I just upped and moved to America."
It’s amazing even though you hailed from England your accent is all but gone man.
“The way they talk where I grew up, I mean I can’t even understand some of the people.”
I always found it fascinating when the early Beatles talked in their Cockney accents, but then when they sang on a record it was gone.
“It’s because they were copying all those American singers that’s why. America is the home of all contemporary music. Jazz, Blues and Rock & Roll it comes from here.”
You know it’s amazing how many musicians that I talked with from the 60’s that had never met Jimi Hendrix. I always figured that at one point or another there would have been a moment spent with him. What was Jimi Hendrix Like?
“He was just a pretty quiet guy as a matter of fact. Most of the time that I spent with him I never saw him basically without a guitar in his hands.”
And you worked on the ‘All Things Must Pass’ Album with George Harrison?
“Well I knew George for quite awhile he gave me my first Sitar. And McCartney I use to go down to the Sgt. Peppers sessions and hang out or stay in the studio while they were recording and spend a good time with George. Nice Man. But playing on All Things Must Pass, I couldn’t recall what tracks that I played on to be perfectly honest with you.”
So what’s on your plate these days Dave?
“Well I tour a lot and obviously the charity for the Vets. Trying to grow the charity is very important for me. And basically just keep on rolling down the road and singing.”
Do you have a CD being released soon or involvement in new collaborations?
“At this point, there’s no point in me putting anymore CD’s out because there’s just no outlet for it, there’s no promotion for it, there’s no radio anymore ever, there’s no way for anyone to know that you’ve got something new out.”
Well you’ve got me Dave. (Laughter)
“I mean national radio, it’s somebody goes in and puts a cart in and pulls it out after thirty days and then puts another one in and there’s nobody home.”
I know exactly what you mean Dave. I was a radio deejay in the late 70’s early 80’s. My dream was to become like one of those deejays from back in the 60’s. Radio is not about the music anymore it’s basically all about advertisers. And who wants to listen to radio to hear back to back to back commercials.
“Yea, there’s just nothing there and no way to get anything promoted. There’s no way for anyone to really hear something or know if they’re even going to like it. So basically anything new that I have is just going to go on my website and you can go there and download it. And until something comes along where you can promote properly it’s economically not feasible to do another CD.”
My column is only about Classic Rock Music and Classic Rock Artists. And my articles are viewed globally on the internet with the sole intention of keeping that dream alive and the fire burning.
“I appreciate that.”
My favorite Dave Mason tune unfortunately was a song that you didn’t write. And it was your biggest hit “We Just Disagree” written by Jim Krueger. I own that awesome performance of the song that you did on Burt Sugarman’s The Midnight Special.
Dave I just want to tell you man that you’re a legendary artist, great songwriter and studio musician and just a classy guy and thank you so much for spending time with me today I really appreciate it.
“You’re quite welcome.”
Keep on doing what you’re doing and I'll see you at Hippiefest in Clearwater.
“I will Ray thank you.”
Dave Mason will be headlining Hippiefest 2011 on Saturday August 27th at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. So let your freak flag fly!
Dave Mason’s website is http://davemasonmusic.com/
Dave Mason Charities Work Vessels for Veterans http://wvfv.net/
CAMMO -Giving our veteran artists a place to thrive http://cammomusic.org/main/
2nd Annual Dave Mason’s “Feelin Alright” Golf Classic
Special thanks goes out to Jeff Albright of The Albright Entertainment Group.
Order author Ray Shasho’s new book Check the Gs –The True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business at http://rayshasho.com/
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