Road brings Mason to Warren
Dave Mason calls himself a “road dog.”
It’s a good thing the 76-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee loves the road. These days a musician doesn’t have any other choice.
“There’s no radio, no DJs anymore (playing new music by veteran acts),” he said during a telephone interview. “There used to be guys who would turn you onto new music. Now it’s just rote, the same stuff over and over.
“This (touring) is the only revenue we all have. People think rock stars are all super rich. That’s a very minute percentage in that bracket. The rest of us? This is the way we make our living … The internet has destroyed intellectual property. It’s too easy for everyone to, what I’ll politely call file sharing. I have another word for it.”
He’s not optimistic that things will change.
“I don’t see how. Pandora is out of the box. I don’t see it getting back in.”
The English-born singer, songwriter and guitar player started playing in bands in his teens and was a founding member of Traffic, which was inducted into the Rock Hall in 2004. One of the songs he wrote for Traffic was “Feelin’ Alright,” which was recorded by many other acts and became a hit for Joe Cocker.
He left Traffic in 1969 for a solo career that produced on platinum and three gold albums and rock radio staples like “We Just Disagree” and “Let It Flow.”
Mason’s status among his peers is reflected in the artists who’ve brought him in for their recordings. Mason can be heard on Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland” (he’s the rhythm guitarist on “All Along the Watchtower”), the Rolling Stones’ “Beggar’s Banquet,” George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” and Paul McCartney and Wing’s “Venus and Mars.” He also did a short stint in the mid-’90s as a member of Fleetwood Mac.
Mason’s current “World in Changes” tour, which plays the Robins Theatre on July 8, looks back at his 1970 solo debut “Alone Together.” Mason revisited the songs in 2020 for “Alone Together Again.” “World in Changes,” one of the tracks from that record, gets the most radical reworking, reimagined as a reggae tune.
“I love reggae,” Mason said. “I grew up being and round that music, and I lived in the Caribbean for four, five years. It lent itself to it. It was not a really big stretch for the song to be done that way.”
During the pandemic, which he said took him off the road for longer time than anything in the last 60 years, he also released a new version of “Feelin’ Alright” that features Mick Fleetwood, Sammy Hagar and Michael McDonald, Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons, John McFee and John Cowan from the Doobie Brothers.
McFee also adds banjo to “Just a Song” on “Alone Together Again.”
“Everything else is pretty much close to the arrangement of how they’re originally done,” Mason said.
Mason hews close to the original arrangements for most — but not all — of the songs he plays live, but most are structured with places where Mason and his band — Johnne Sambataro, guitar and vocals; Alvino Bennett, drums; Bill Mason, keyboard and vocals; and Ray Cardwell, bass and vocals — can improvise and keep things fresh.
Bill Mason, who is a newcomer to the band, isn’t a relation by blood, but Mason said he and the rest of his bandmates are “road dog brothers.”
“Road dogs, that’s what we are,” Mason said. “I’ve been a road dog since I was 15, and so is the rest of that band. That’s what we do.”
If you go …
WHO: Dave Mason
WHEN: 8 p.m. July 8
WHERE: Robins Theatre, 160 E. Market St., Warren
HOW MUCH: Tickets range from $35 to $90 and are available at the Robins box office and online at robinstheatre.com.