He’s the epitome of the temperamental pop sensibility, always stepping back at that moment when Big Fame beckons, touring constantly. He’s the man who’ll always get a nod of recognition from those who honed their musical tastes during a certain rich period, now considered the center of classic rock, from the late 1960s into the late 1970s. He plays the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, making up for a winter gig swallowed by snow a few months back, this Friday, July 8.
Dave Mason was there alongside Steve Winwood, Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi when Traffic formed, penning some of its biggest hits but bowing out (and rejoining briefly) during the band’s brief stint as the creative crowd’s faves of 1967 and 1968. His reasons for coming and going? He liked the group’s pop sound better than its jazz meanderings. He was then present while his pal Jimi Hendrix recorded Electric Ladyland, along for the ride for George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, part of the rambunctious Delaney and Bonnie and Friends tours of the early 1970s and asked to be the second guitarist for Eric Clapton’s Derek & the Dominoes lark, before letting Duane Allman take the slot.
Some of his songs became hits for others. Mason himself started a solo career with his 1970 album Alone Together, once a stalwart of dorm-room record collections, and began touring incessantly – mostly in the United States and Canada. He kept getting quasi-hits on FM during its early days, and showing up as a session musician on others’ albums, or getting big-name guests such as Michael Jackson to contribute to his own consistent album releases. For a brief spell in the 1990s he was a touring member of Fleetwood Mac.
Way back when, I recall seeing Mason in concert. It was bright, well-played, infectiously pop and fun. We’ve all aged considerably since then, but from what I can tell on YouTube, Dave has still got his chops – and sense of fun. Who would’ve guessed that there would be this point in our lives where rock ‘n’ roll was the new vaudeville, filled with touring acts as admirable for their stamina and show-business chops as their Dionysian creativity and rebel attitudes of pure independence? It seems to be what Woodstock is now about, and the gist of what the Bearsville Theater – built as the epitome of 1970s/1980s music-biz savvy – is now all about.
Alex Drizos will open for Dave Mason and his crack band on Friday, July 8 after the doors open at 8 p.m. Showtime is 9 p.m.
The Bearsville Theater is located on Route 212 (Tinker Street) just west of the center of Woodstock. For further information, including reservations, call (845) 679 4406 or visit www.bearsvilletheater.com.