B-List Band of the Week: Dave Mason

The B-List Band of the Week feature returns today after an extensive hiatus. Again, the point here is not to present second-rate writing about second-rate musicians, but rather to briefly highlight artists existing out of the spotlight, perhaps in an attempt to identify why they are so located. Last time, the focus was on The Outlaws, a group that, on paper, had all the makings of one Lynyrd Skynyrd but failed to materialize as such. Today, it’s on Dave Mason, a guitarist and singer frequently on the fringe of rock and roll’s main scene, particularly in the 1970s, and who continues to perform today.

In recanting Mason’s story, it should first be acknowledged that he’s unlikely to have gained the notoriety that he has without his association with the band Traffic. As it were, Mason actually came to work with Jim Capaldi before either became involved with Steve Winwood, when Mason and Capaldi became members of the same band in the mid-1960s. Mason would meet Winwood when the former became road manager for the latter’s Spencer Davis Group, eventually joining him, Capaldi, and Chris Wood as founding members of Traffic. Mason’s first hit would be the band’s second single, “Hole in My Shoe,” a Harrisonian-Indian pop-psychedelic bit that would eventually appear on the band’s self-titled release in 1968, its second album. Between Traffic’s first album, 1967’s Dear Mr. Fantasy, and Traffic, Mason would leave and rejoin the band, adding another Britpop-style song in “You Can All Join In” and his biggest hit, “Feelin’ Alright?”, to the ’68 effort.

Mason was out of Traffic for the second and final time in 1968, making his way to Los Angeles and into one of the greatest and most embryonically formative touring bands ever recorded, Delaney & Bonnie. Keep reading…