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Dave Mason at Sound Board, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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ave Mason is a kind of rock 'n' roll Forrest Gump.

His role as a founding member of Traffic put him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while he's been a hitmaker on his own with "We Just Disagree" and "We Just Disagree," among others. He also appeared on the Jimi Hendrix Experience's recording of "All Along the Watchtower," on the Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man," on George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" album and many others. He released an album with "Mama" Cass Elliott in 1971, was in the first lineup of Eric Clapton's Derek & the Dominos and logged a brief tenure with Fleetwood Mac during the mid-90s. It's quite a resume.

The beat goes on, too. Mason released his latest album, "Future's Past," in 2014, and his "Pink Lipstick" EP came out three years later. A documentary is in the works, and he's writing a memoir, neither of which will want for material...

• This year marks the 50th anniversary of Mason's first solo album, "Alone Together." "Like anybody's life, it goes by quickly and you try to make the most of the moment," Mason, 73, says by phone. "I've played on so many kind of seminal things -- 'Watchtower' and 'Crosstown Traffic' with Hendrix, 'Street Fighting Man,' 'Military Madness' with Graham Nash. Stevie Wonder played on one of my records. Michael Jackson sang on one of my records. There's a lot of stuff. It all came out of friendships and getting to know people, and things just kind of happened."

• To commemorate that anniversary Mason has been working on a re-recorded version of "Alone Together," which he hopes to have ready in the near future. "I actually started doing it just for my own personal amusement, with some slightly different version of stuff. They're all pretty much cut live and just more filled out. There's a little more percussion, some background sort of synthesizers. It's way better than the original, I think."

• Though he parted ways with the band early on, Mason remains proud of his association with Traffic, to which he contributed the 1968 hit "Feelin' Alright." "I wrote half of the first two albums and I wrote their first big hit. I was there from the beginning, when we all started hanging out. I was very much a part of it 'til they didn't want me to be a part of it anymore, so I had to leave. The differences were great, which is what made (the music great). Unfortunately it's what seemed to pull it apart. It was a unique band."

• Mason's memoir will be titled "Only You Know and I Know," after one of his songs, and he hopes to have it out next year. "It's a life story with some musical events wrapped around it. It's taken awhile to piece it all together and get through it all and research. I have a lousy memory for times and places and stuff, so someone has to do all the research and I can fill in what I remember." Mason anticipates the film documentary might come out before the book, in fact.

• Mason is not particularly whipped up about the prospects for making new music. "Since the advent of MP3s it's an exercise in futility because there's no way to promote it. There's no radio anymore or DJs. There's nobody going, 'Hey, check this out...' Everybody's either stealing it or streaming it. Your royalty off 5,000 Spotify plays is the same price as a T-shirt. I have stuff at home and I still do (new) stuff and we take it to shows and play it, so that's about it. The one thing they haven’t been able to completely download and take away is (playing) live and in person. I've been doing that since I was 16."

Dave Mason performs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 8, at Sound Board in the MotorCity Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Blvd., Detroit. $31 and up. 313-309-4614 or soundboarddetroit.com.

Web Site: www.soundboarddetroit.com

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