Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dave Mason returning to Park City
Back in 1967, guitarist Dave Mason formed the seminal English band Traffic with his longtime friends Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood and Chris Wood.
Although Mason had been involved in earlier bands, Traffic, with the hits "Paper Sun," Mason’s own "Hole In My Shoe" and "Mr. Fantasy," catapulted Mason into the spotlight.
The spotlight attracted not only fans, but other musicians including Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac, who recruited Mason to play on some of their songs.
In the 46 years since Traffic, Mason has continued to record and play music, because he loves what he does.
"I started playing music because I got into guitar and basically wanted to be successful and make some money," Mason said during a phone call from his home in California. "It was a passion for me."
Although the guitarist was in town recently for a one-night appearance at the ASCAP Music Café during the Sundance Film Festival, he is looking forward to his return for a three-night stand at the Egyptian Theatre, beginning Friday.
It isn’t the first time Mason has played at 328 Main St. He played there last year as well.
"I remember the Egyptian Theatre," he said. "It was a nice little venue and I enjoyed playing there."
This time, however, the concerts will not feature a full band.
"I’ve been doing an unplugged show for the past year, because I felt like I needed to change things up a little and simplify going out on the road," he said. "I didn’t know how it would go over, but the fact is, frankly, that people love it."
Part of the charm is hearing Mason’s songs in an intimate setting.
"It works because the acoustic shows strip everything down to the essence of the song," he said. "It’s like when I write my songs. I start with an acoustic guitar. If it doesn’t sound any good that way, then it’s not worth recording, as far as I’m concerned, because is a song is strong enough, it should hold up."
Mason likes hearing these versions of the songs.
"This may sound strange, but when I play acoustically, I can actually listen to what the hell I wrote," he laughed.
Choosing songs for the tour wasn’t a difficult task, Mason said.
"There are certain songs I don’t do in the set, because they are more suited for a band," he explained. "But for the most part, there are a lot of songs I could use."
Mason promised a "little taste" of Traffic and some songs from his solo albums.
"They’re the ones people want to hear and I don’t mind playing them," he said.
Joining Mason on stage will be Jonathan McEuen, the son of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s John McEuen.
"I’ve know Jonathan for about 10 years and he’s finally coming out on the road with me," Mason said. "It’s going to be interesting for me, because I’ll have some young blood on stage."
While some people may think Mason has mellowed out over the years, he tends to think otherwise.
"The years have sort of tempered one in some ways, because that’s sort of unavoidable, but when I approach my music and play live, I try to maintain that same enthusiasm that I felt when I first started," he said. "I’m planning on doing the unplugged thing for a good part of the year, but I know I’ll want to get back to playing lead guitar again."
Mason’s interest in the guitar started at an early age while he grew up in England, which was the perfect place to live if you were an aspiring guitarist.
"A lot of it happened because basically, back through the 1960s, anyone who played music and went on tour ended up in London at some point," he explained. "That was England’s only music center, which was unlike the United States where you have Los Angeles, or New York, Philadelphia, Motown (Detroit), Chicago or Nashville.
"So, you were almost certainly going to run into somebody in London, because of that, and there were a limited number of recording studios that were open," Mason said. "Another thing, we were all sort of starting up at the same time, and that made it easier for us to get involved with someone back then."
Throughout his connections, Mason created a career with his music, which included his classic hit "We Just Disagree," which was released in 1977, and a string of solo studio albums that extended to 2008.
These days, Mason still makes music, but doesn’t rely on a record company to promote his work.
"With the lack of any record-label interest in this point of my life, using computers is great because you can bypass the record label," he said. "However, much like life itself, using computers still requires connecting with people, and that’s something I’ve only really gotten aware of within the last year or so, even though I’ve used computers quite a bit."
"That way I can tell people that there is a lot of new stuff that I’ve written and recorded and they can go online and check them out," he said. "If they like what they hear, they can download it or order it. It’s like going door-to-door again."
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dave Mason will perform a series of intimate acoustic concerts at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., from Friday, Feb. 15, through Sunday, Feb. 17. The Friday and Saturday performances will begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday’s show will start at 6 p.m. Tickets range from $40 to $70 and are available at http://www.parkcityshows.com .
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