For those coming of age in the 1960s and ’70s, Dave Mason’s music is an integral component of the soundtrack of their lives.
The singer-songwriter-guitarist, originally from Worcester, England, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 as a member of the legendary rock band Traffic. Since then, he’s enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a solo artist.
At 71, Mason’s voice and guitar playing — the latter a criminally underrated component of his musical arsenal — are as strong as ever.
As a songwriter, his hits include “Only You and I Know,” “We Just Disagree” and “Feelin’ Alright.”
“Feelin’ Alright,” originally recorded by Traffic in 1968, has been covered by dozens of artists, including Huey Lewis and the News, Rare Earth, Grand Funk Railroad, Hawaii’s own John Cruz and even Gladys Knight &the Pips. The definitive version, however, is Joe Cocker’s gritty, soulful 1969 recording.
“If he had never done that song, it would never have become what it became, so I owe him a big debt of gratitude,” Mason told the Tribune-Herald last week from his Maui home. “I consciously write songs that are somewhat timeless themes. I don’t have any made-up stories, per se. And I don’t have any political songs. They’re all love songs, basically. They’re about some sort of human condition. And that never changes.”
In addition, Mason has found the sweet spot with his covers of classic hits, including Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” He also played 12-string acoustic guitar on Jimi Hendrix’s recording of “Watchtower.”
Mason and his longtime band — Johnne Sambataro on guitar and vocals, Tony Patler on keyboard and vocals and Alvino Bennett on drums — will open “The Very Best of Dave Mason 2018 Tour” at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 7) at Honokaa People’s Theatre. The plantation-era Hamakua Coast venue is familiar turf to Mason and his band, who last played there June 13, 2015.
They’ll also perform Thursday, Feb. 8, in Honolulu and Friday, Feb. 9, on Kauai, before wrapping the Hawaii segment of the national tour Saturday, Feb. 10, on Maui.
Doors for the Honokaa show open at 6 p.m. Gold circle seating has already sold out. General admission tickets are $45, available at CD Wizard, Hilo Ukulele &Guitar and Hilo Music Exchange in Hilo; Sound Wave Music, Kona Music Exchange and Kiernan Music in Kona; Waimea General Store in Parker Square; Top Stitch in Honokaa; by calling 896-4845; and online at bluesbearhawaii.com.
In addition, Mason’s fans will have a special opportunity to get close up and personal with him. Dave Mason’s VIP Experience is available for $125 at bluesbearhawaii.com.
“People who do that can come to the sound check,” Mason said. “We’ll run through a couple of songs. They’ll get to meet me, and if they’ve got something they’ve always wanted to ask, they can do that. Then, we give them a little gift bag with T-shirt and CDs. Mostly, they can just be there and have time to talk and take a picture with me. It’s a VIP situation. We do go out after shows and sign for people at the (merchandise) table, but I don’t do pictures there, or we would just be there forever.”
The VIP pass, which is available at will call, doesn’t include a concert ticket, which must be bought separately.
“The Hawaii shows start a tour that actually ends about as far away as you can get from here, on Long Island, Westport (Conn.), in March,” Mason said. “So after the Maui shows, for three days we’re gonna be rehearsing at Mick Fleetwood’s club” in Lahaina.
Like most artists who live either part time or full time on Maui, Mason has shared the stage with Maui musical juggernaut Willie K., who Mason describes as “an amazing, amazing artist.” He’ll also be taking Maui vocalist Gretchen Rhodes, who’s sang with Willie, Fleetwood and Steven Tyler with him on the mainland leg of the tour.
Mason said he’s also in the process of solidifying plans for what he described as a “rock ’n’ soul revue” for later this year with Steve Cropper, the legendary guitarist for Booker T. &the MG’s.
And while his own legend is secure, Mason said he and his band continue to tour because they’re “essentially just working musicians.”
“It’s our job. It’s what keeps things going,” he said. “People tend to overlook that. They get carried away with the art and all — and most of it’s craft. It’s our livelihood, and the bottom line is, I can still do it. If I can and people still come to the concerts, I see no reason not to.”
Email John Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.