Before his upcoming 2018 Hawaiian tour, I spoke with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Traffic co-founder Dave Mason.
Mason is probably best known for his hit song, “Feelin’ Alright,” a tune he recorded in 1968 while in the rock band Traffic, but everyone from Joe Cocker to The Jackson 5 has put their own spin on it. As a studio musician he’s appeared on recordings by Delaney and Bonnie, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Cass Elliot, and George Harrison. If you were around in the 1970s and ‘80s, you may recall his solo recordings like “Only You Know and I Know” and “We Just Disagree,” were in heavy rotation on American FM radio stations.
Mason began playing guitar at 16, and now at 71, he continues to tour and record. His 2016 album. Traffic Jam, includes new material and re-recorded classics from the Traffic era and beyond.
Music is Mason’s passion and desire, and 2018 marks a new year in his musical journey. With that in mind, he has prepared a new live show entitled, “The Very Best Of Dave Mason”, which promises to live up to its title.
Big Island Music: Aloha, Dave!
Dave Mason: Aloha!
BIM: Looking at your 2018 tour schedule, it looks like it kicks off here on the Big Island on February 7, and doesn’t stop until the end of May. You’ve been touring and recording for five decades. What’s your secret behind your strong work ethic?
Mason: Basically, I was brought up that way, and have been doing it since I was 16. It’s my passion. I can still do it, so why not? Luckily, I still have people who want to hear the music.
BIM: Do you have any special connections to the islands?
Mason: I bought a house here last January, but my main residence is in California.
BIM: This tour is called “The Very Best of Dave Mason.” What can folks look forward to at your upcoming shows here?
Mason: I’ll be doing Dave Mason and Traffic songs, but there will always be somebody who will say, “Well, he didn’t do this song.”
BIM: There’s always “that guy,” right?
Mason: (laughs) Yeah.
BIM: Who are some of the band members that you’re bringing with you?
Mason: Johnne Sambataro. He’s the other guitar player. God, he’s been on and off with me —- going on 35 years. Alvino Bennett is my drummer. He’s been with me about 15 years. Tony Patler plays keyboards, and also bass – – been with me about six or seven years. They’ve all been with me awhile.
BIM: A few of our readers sent in a few questions for you. What distortion box did you use on the 1973 album “It’s Like You Never Left”?
Mason:. (laughs) It’s been so long, I have no clue.
BIM: Regarding Jimi Hendrix. Do you recall a session with you and Brian Jones sitting in with the Jimi Hendrix Experience?
Mason: Well, I played on a couple of tracks on Electric Ladyland, like acoustic guitar on his version of “All Along The Watchtower,” and I sang on “Crosstown Traffic.” Now the session where we cut “All Along The Watchtower,” it was just me, Jimi, and Mitch Mitchell. Brian was there in the studio, but not in a state of playing anything.
BIM: Can you talk about the organizations you’re working with like Little Kids Rock?
Mason: When I was growing up, music education was part of the curriculum at school. Many years ago I was asked to be on the board for Little Kids Rock, but I’m more actively involved with my charity for the vets called Rock Our Vets (RockOurVets.Org). It’s an all-volunteer non-profit charity, and they’ve expanded and are helping the families of fallen police officers and fireman. It’s not about the money – – they need food, clothes, computers, and they’re most grateful for getting it.
BIM: Are there any contemporary musicians or bands you listen to?
Mason: (laughs) When I’m not playing, I’m not really listening to much of anything. Maybe some classical, old blues, jazz – – There are, however, some people I love hearing, like Joe Bonamassa and Tedeschi Trucks Band.
BIM: It’s too bad you don’t hear these bands being played on the radio.
Mason: It’s too bad you don’t hear a lot of things being played on the radio like new material from Dave Mason! Radio has pretty much gone down the tubes thanks to the internet. They’re a few pockets of isolated places in urban areas that still do it.
From my perspective, making new music, and putting it out is an exercise in futility. But I’m still doing what I’ve been doing since I was 16, and that’s standing on a stage and playing music.
BIM: Is there anyone in your career you wished you jammed with or recorded with?
Mason: I’d love to do something with Bonnie Raitt. I would like to do something with McCartney as well.
BIM: After this tour, what does the rest of 2018 look like for you?
Mason: I’m putting together a new show with myself and Steve Cropper. It’s called the Dave Mason and Steve Cropper Rock and Soul Revue. We’ll be doing some of the songs he made famous like “Green Onions,” Midnight Hour,” “Soul Man,” along with some Traffic tunes. Eventually we’ll be adding more people to the revue. It’ll be an evening of great songs and music. We may be up and running with it in May.
BIM: Dave, mahalo for your time, and we look forward to your tour of the islands in a few weeks
Mason: I look forward to playing to the Hawaiian audiences. I love being here. What’s not to love, right?
If You Go
Dave Mason 2018 Hawaiian Tour Dates:
Feb. 7, Wednesday – Big Island
The Honoka’a Peoples Theatre
45-3574 Mamane St. Honoka’a,
Information: 808-896-4845 $45. Gen. – ($65. Gold Circle Sold Out)
Doors: 6:00 pm Show: 7:00 pm.
Feb. 8, Thursday – Oahu
Cross Roads at Hawaiian Brian’s
1680 Kapiolani Blvd. 2nd. Floor Honolulu
Venue: 808-946-1343 Tickets: $45. Gen. – Gold Circle $65.
Doors: 6:30 pm. Show: 7:30 pm.
Feb 9, Friday – Kauai
Kauai Beach Resort – Jasmine Ballroom
4331 Kauai Beach Rd. Lihue,
Venue: 808-245-1955 Tickets: $45. Gen. – Gold Circle $65.
Doors: 6:30 pm. Show: 7:30 pm.
Feb. 10, Saturday – Maui
Maui Arts & Cultural Center – Castle Theater
One Cameron Way Kahului
Venue: 808-242-SHOW (7469) Tickets: $45. $55. $75. Reserved
Doors: 7:00 pm. Show: 7:30 pm.
Tickets Outlets & Information:
Online Info, Tickets & Gold Circle: bluesbearhawaii.com or call: 808-896-4845
Oahu: www.bluesbearhawaii.com (Gold Circle) Cross Roads at Hawaiian Brian’s, Good Guys Music – Kapahulu, Coconut Grove Music – Kailua
Kauai: bluesbearhawaii.com (Gold Circle) Kauai Music & Sound – Kapaa; Hanalei Music & Strings – Hanalei; Progressive Expressions – Koloa; Scotty’s Music – Lihue, Jacqueline On Kauai – Hanapepe
Maui: MACC Box Office 808-242- SHOW (7469) or mauiarts.org
Big Island: bluesbearhawaii.com (Gold Circle) Kona Music Exchange, Sound Wave Music – Kailua-Kona; Kiernan’s Music – Old Town Kainaliu; Waimea General Store – Parker Square, Kamuela; Top Stitch – Honoka’a; CD Wizard, Hilo Ukuleles & Guitars, Hilo Music Exchange
For more info on Dave Mason, please visit: http://www.davemasonmusic.com