When you talk about guitar players, don’t forget Dave Mason. We had the distinct privilege of seeing Dave Mason and Leon Russell in concert Saturday night, the 22nd of November ’08 at The Sunrise Theater in Fort Pierce, Fl. A terrific venue with about 2000 seats in a real cozy concert hall. It is a nice small theater that allows one to really get a feel for the performers. We have seen many concerts there with much satisfaction. Dave Mason is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer too.
I’m a Dave Mason guy from the Traffic Days. We used to listen to Dave endlessly. When I say we, I mean my old friend ‘Rob the Slob‘ and myself. I can’t pin time frames down exactly, but Dave Mason came out with his version of Bob Dylan’s song ‘All Along The Watchtower’ just before Jimi Hendrix. And since they were good friends, Jimi decided he wanted to render his own version (which Dylan proclaimed to be better than his own and soon thereafter dedicating the song to Hendrix and adopted Jimi’s version as the official arrangement). We would call the radio station every day and request them to play Dave’s version and then Jimi’s version. We were trying to decide who had the best version. The station ‘WHFS’ from Bethesda Maryland must have thought we were nuts, but they always accommodated us. Dave does one kick-butt version of the song, but Hendrix always wins out, at least with me.
On to the concert. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing that did not improve over the years about Dave Mason is his looks. He is 64 years old, bald now (that is a good thing, so am I!) but has a nice shaped head, and put on a few pounds. One thing that seemed to get better is his world class abilities to play the guitar. It shows the dedication to his art is still burning inside him to create and perform. Great guitar players like Dave and Robin Trower seem to improve with age. The vibe does not change, but the maturity and devotion show. He still has a great voice, noticeably very Dave Mason like to this day.
Most of the time Dave played a trusty old Fender Telecaster, he also played an acoustic 12 string guitar on several songs. He made masterful use of his effects equipment, with the Wah put into good use and often. Part of his awesome sound is due to the way he uses his effects pedals.
Dave played for about an hour and a half, he only played some of his greatest hits because we would have needed the whole night to cover every hit this man has had. My favorites were “All Along The Watchtower” and “Feelin’ Alright”. We knew that those two songs would get played last, and the tension rose for us when the concert ended, only for them to (surprise) come back and play his best song last, “Feelin’ Alright”.
The Dave Mason Band consists of: Gerald Johnson-Bass Guitarist, Johnne Sambataro-Guitars, Alvino Bennett-Drummer, Bill Mason-Keyboard and Chris Curtis-Sound Engineer.
The bass player, Gerald Johnson puts on a show in himself, dancing and strutting around the stage, making love to his guitar the whole concert. Basically this group has played together, on, more than off, for over 35 years. It shows too, this is a who’s who of musicians that still perform at the top level. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, this group stands the test of time.
Dave just came out with a new album, his first in 22 years. The band played several cuts for us and as I had expected, it was Dave Mason’s vibe all the way. Why change it if it ain’t broke? If you want more information on everything about Dave with pictures of the band, I recommend visiting his website. It just happens to be an excellent and informative site covering his band members in detail as well.
I will cover Leon Russell in another blog soon. There is so much to say about Dave Mason that my attention span and creativity won’t last long enough for two reviews in a row. Leon was excellent though, the band performed one hit after another for over an hour, very little talking by Leon, just music. FYI, he has a bionic young guitar player, highly impressive. I will have his name for you in my review.
When a legend, like Dave Mason comes to Florida, there is no distance in Florida too far to drive. Fortunately this concert was local, distance just makes it sweeter for the Guitar Players Center crew, of my wife, Allan and myself, in terms of seeing someone of the magnitude of Dave Mason. Enjoy, there are not a lot of guys like Dave left, we want your comments, Thanks.
PS. We will see Buddy Guy and B.B.King in February, 2009. What a treat!