Dave Mason at The B.B. King Blues Club

Dave Mason

 

B.B. King Blues Club, March 6, 2003:

 

       I take the train into Manhattan on a very snowy winter’s afternoon. I called ahead to verify the show was still on, and it is. I arrive at 4:45 P.M. and go downstairs to dry off and keep warm. Dave Mason is already doing his sound check. I stand at the closed door with Paul from Brooklyn and enjoy the fantastic music. We are treated to “Mr. Fantasy” and “We Just Disagree,” which are both sounding great. At the bar Paul and I talk at length. We discuss many shows from the mid 60’s to the mid 70’s. Paul attended the old Brooklyn Paramount Theatre. We both unknowingly crossed paths at a Murray the K show in April of 1967. We both remember The Cream and The Who being showcased after the headliners finished. We both went to the Fillmore East many, many times. We are number 1 and 2 to enter tonight, but he joins his friend John and sits back a bit and I sit directly in front at a center table. I am on the guest list thanks to Rena Siwek, PR Director here at the club. Thank you Rena!!

       Soon Tom joins me. He is a musician from Utah who plays both guitar and bass. He is in two bands: Ed Steven’s Band and Playing With Guacamole. They play in many surrounding Utah venues and frequently gig at the Olympic Fountains from the recent winter games held there. Jean Patrick who is par excellence as usual, serves us tonight. The food is delicious and the portions are on the large side. Tom Rhoton works for Altiris. The company provides managed IT services, solutions and technology. He is here for a Microsoft sponsored conference. Tom’s work environment is excellent. He tells a story about his boss who gave him some well-earned extra money in his bonus to buy a Stratocaster guitar. The bonus was called a ‘strat’ bonus. Tom has four children of his own and an adopted little girl from China. His wife wanted to adopt from China and this saved the little girl’s life. Louie soon joins us. He is from Brooklyn and works for Citibank. Louie came to the last Dave Mason show here, about a year ago. Louie is 55 and is searching for his soul mate.

       The show starts at 8:03 P.M. A radio personality, Zack Martin, does the introduction to the enthusiastic applause of the now full house audience. Dave Mason takes the stage at 8:05 P.M. and starts with his tremendous composition, “World In Changes.” Dave plays an Alvarez acoustic guitar. The band is strong immediately, working easily through the melodic and challenging rhythmic changes of this tune. The keyboardist, Bill Mason, is torrid from the start on his Kurtweil electric piano and Hammond electric organ.

    

Bill Mason

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The drummer, Frank Reid, is strong and confident through the changes. Dave switches to a natural finish Telecaster and plays his huge hit, “Only You Know And I Know.” Dave’s vocal is strong. He gets a tremendous guitar tone from stereo Fender DeVille amps. The vocal harmonies are complimentary, supportive and exact. Dave Mason takes an excellent lead guitar break on his Telecaster!

    

Dave Mason

    

Photo/Animation: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Song three is the masterful Traffic composition, “40,000 Headman.” Dave’s vocals are clear and strong with that growl added for extra vocal texture. Dave’s guitar break is superb, with great note selection and tone. Bill Mason’s organ solo is ‘fat’ and frenzied. The second guitarist, Godfrey, steps up for a great solo. He starts with emphasis on slow quarter notes, continues building with added arpeggio runs and tasteful hammering. The band plays an extended jam version of this song that is well developed and carries along without being too much.

    

Godfrey Townsend

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       On the next song, “We Just Disagree,” the big 1977 hit, Dave switches to a black Alvarez 12 string guitar. The song is ballad slow and executed with studio-like precision. The bass player, Rich Campbell, fills in excellent high harmonies. Rich is playing a six string bass and his sound is dominant but well balanced for the ensemble’s musical blend.

    

Rich Campbell

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The band does a blues shuffle to feature all the individual soloists, “Dust My Blues.” Godfrey takes the opening solo on his psychedelic Gibson SG guitar. His solo is excellent. The keyboardist, Bill, takes an excellent solo that brings the emotional level up to a boil! The band demonstrates excellent charisma. Bill and Godfrey both take second solos. The band is smoking’. Dave plays one of my all time favorites next, “Look At You, Look At Me.” He has an excellent arrangement for this tune. The changes are clean and well executed. Dave’s lead guitar break soars and has a very sharp cutting tone. Dave’s vocals again growl and evoke great emotion. The guitar melody theme is clearly stated and exacting. Bill takes an excellent keyboard break with slick scale runs and exciting arpeggios. The band throws in a cut-time reggae rhythm change that is very tasteful. The drummer, Frank Reid, uses the reverse stick on the snare and a double time open/close on the hi-hat. Frank is hot! Dave takes an extended guitar solo with harmonic touch notes and some octaves added for creative musical color.

    

Dave Mason

    

Photo/Animation: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The next song is, “Let It Flow.” The feeling is upbeat, harmonious and happy. The strong six string bass of Rich Campbell enables the upbeat melodic feel to just roll along. The bass fills in the bottom excellently. Dave plays the rock anthem, “Mr. Fantasy” next. The intro is slow, with great emphasis. Dave is milking this one and we all appreciate his extra emotional feeling. The vocal verse is strong and his lead guitar break is stupendous. Amazing!!!

    

Dave Mason

    

Photo/Animation: ©A.J. Alfaro

       For song nine, Dave returns to the Black Alvarez acoustic to perform, “Sad And Deep As You.” The tune is very tight and melancholy sweet with a tremendous dynamic blend. The drummer, Frank Reid, displays excellent brushwork. Dave’s finger style guitar is clean and precise. Dave continues with the touching ballad, “Every Woman.” Dave performs solo on vocal and acoustic guitar. This is a slow serenade with excellent control. The bassist continues his strong high harmonies that are clean, balanced and greatly complimentary. His bass playing is robust and the ‘fat’ well chosen notes resound nicely and carry the sound.

       Dave breaks into his tremendous interpretation of, “All Along The Watchtower.” The song is very lively and spirited. The rendition is smokin’. I’ve always preferred Dave’s version of this rock anthem above all the rest, even Jimi Hendrix. Dave takes an excellent and inspiring solo on the dual Fender DeVille amps. Dave walks over to Tom, sitting across from me, and gives him his pick! Wow, now this is tremendous! Tom is understandably ecstatic over this. We slap hi-fives.

    

Bill Mason

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The last song of the night is again one of my all time favorites, “Feelin’ Alright.” The crowd is all standing and going wild! Bill takes an exceptional Hammond organ solo. Godfrey takes an amazing solo on guitar. Then Dave and Godfrey play a dueling guitar solo that is incredible. Jump up and down! At the end of this incredible number, Dave Mason walks over to ME and gives me his guitar pick. I am blown away completely. Frank Reina has been smokin’ on the drums all night. I can see the fire in his eyes as he cooks on the drum throne for this entire set. YEAH BABY!

    

Frank Reina

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       The encore song is, “Gimme’ Some Lovin’,” from The Spencer Davis Band. Everyone is standing and yelling. The entire place is jumpin’. This song is steaming with glorified satisfaction. The Dave Mason Band plays exceptionally tonight. Dave’s songs are a true inspiration to so many of his fans worldwide. Each exceptional musician excelled individually and vigorously played to create the extremely cohesive sound of the ensemble band.

    

Dave Mason & Godfrey Townsend - Dueling Guitars

    

Photo: ©A.J. Alfaro

       Tom, Louie and myself are totally blown away. I reach over to retrieve the Dave Mason Band set list for my review. Louie thanks us and departs for Brooklyn. Tom and I walk out together. I see my waitress buddy, Jiffy, and give her a big hug. Tom and I float east on 42ND Street through Times Square. Tom returns to The Plaza where he is staying while here in Manhattan. I float south to the train. My last yell echoes throughout the nearby few blocks of the surrounding streets!

    

Tom Rhoton, one happy camper!!

    

Photo: A.J. Alfaro

       You can view The Dave Mason Set List:

Dave Mason Set List

 

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A.J. Alfaro

and.the.beat.goes.on@worldnet.att.net