Dave Mason brings range of music to Croswell

By Arlene Bachanov
Daily Telegram (Adrian, Michigan)
Thu May 14, 2009, 05:30 PM EDT

ADRIAN, Mich. -
When Dave Mason was a young man in Worcester, England, in the 1960s, he looked around at all the bands on the British rock-music scene “and I thought, I could do that.”

The self-taught musician teamed up with Jim Capaldi in a couple of different bands before the pair met Steve Winwood and Chris Wood in the nearby city of Birmingham. The result, in 1967, was the band Traffic.

Mason’s career with Traffic only lasted for a couple of years — until, as he puts it, the band “didn’t need my services anymore” — but resulted in the hit song “Feelin’ Alright,” which he wrote when he was only 19 and which has since been covered by dozens of artists including, most notably, Joe Cocker.

When he was just 22, his “Traffic” days behind him, Mason came to the U.S. to pursue a solo career.

“Jazz, gospel, blues, rock are all American music,” he said. “I figured I should just up and go where it all started.”

Forty years and many albums later, that solo career is still going strong and brings the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer to the Croswell for a performance at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $29 for the main floor and lower balcony, $19 for the upper balcony, and $75 for VIP seating. Doors open at 6 p.m. and a cash bar will be available.

Tickets are available by calling the Croswell at 264-7469; at the box office at 129 E. Maumee St., Adrian, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; or online at

After moving to the U.S. in 1969, ending up first in Los Angeles, Mason settled into the era’s rock scene — “It was a lot of fun. I was young,“ he said, laughing — and quickly found success in his solo career starting with 1970’s “Alone Together,” which went gold “and was regarded as a classic album for a long time,” he said. Four out of his next five albums also went gold and “Let It Flow,” released in 1977, went platinum and then some.

“It just worked out for me,” he said. “And plus, I was pretty focused on what I was trying to accomplish.”

Along the way during his career, he’s worked with some of the best-known musicians of his time, including Jimi Hendrix, Cass Elliott, The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Fleetwood Mac, with whom he teamed up in 1993. He spent two years on tour with Fleetwood Mac and recorded the album “Time” with the group in 1995.

His newest CD, his first studio album in 20 years and which he thinks is some of his best work yet, is 2008’s “26 Letters and 12 Notes” — the title, which he came up with just as “something unique and different,” refers to the number of letters in the English language and the number of notes in Western music — which contains a rather eclectic blend of everything from rock to blues to funk in its 12 tracks.

“There’s something for everyone. … It’s good stuff,” he said.

But music isn’t Mason’s only passion these days. He’s on the board of the nonprofit organization Little Kids Rock, an organization that provides free instruments and lessons to public-school children.

“I support kids being taught music,” he said. “I think it should be part of every kid’s education.”

And most notably, he’s heavily involved in Work Vessels for Vets, which assists returning veterans with what they need to go into business for themselves. As the title implies, the charity started out providing boats, but they also give vets anything from a computer to a truck to a tractor.

Helping veterans in that way is a particular cause for Mason, whose father served in World War I.

“The price of freedom is constant vigilance. … These are the people who protect our way of life,” he said.

Mason and his band tour pretty extensively across the U.S. and Canada, performing some 120 shows last year alone. His audiences, he said, draw a whole spectrum of music-lovers, from younger people who’ve probably never heard of him before the concert to the long-time fans who remember his songs from when they first came out.

Many of the latter, he said, tell him at his concerts to “play the old songs.” But to him, “there are no old songs. There are just good songs and bad songs. A good song is right anytime.”