On Friday, September 29th, I didn’t see anyone in the house under 50 including the star of the evening, Dave Mason, who is 71. I’m sure there were some young’uns present and two of them were on stage as the opening act and what a sweet treat Michael Ray and Matthew Hevesh were as they played some juicy blues to warm up the crowd. Ray has special talents indeed as he played a Fender Stratocaster upside down Jimi H. style. This solves the problem of a southpaw playing a right-handed guitar but it takes some impressive maneuvering to do it right and Ray did it right. Also impressive on guitar but rendering some bass licks was Hevesh whose long gleaming tresses prompted someone in the audience to yell out “Nice hair!” Ray immediately quipped, “Yeah, I keep asking him what conditioner he uses but he won’t tell me.” The crowd loved these two and they loved the crowd right back. They hail from Sacramento and feature some more talented musicians on the CD I listened to on the way home so, come on up again boys and bring your mates. I’d certainly give them another listen.
Back to the old folks. It doesn’t seem like Mason has lost any of his mojo. His playing is superb and his voice is strong and on point. On this night his fellow artists were Alvino Bennett on drums, Tony Patler on keyboards and Johnne Sambataro on what I later found out was a Line 6 Variax electric which has built- in software, enabling the guitar, with the twist of a knob, to sound like anything from a bass to a banjo. Sambataro showed complete mastery here and this level of excellence extended to everyone on stage. Tight is the word that kept coming to mind. It’s a thrill to watch and listen to musicians who are tuned into each other so well. There was a screen hanging above the band that projected a picture show of Mason’s musical history, and since he’s played with or for so many famous bands and musicians, this was like a review of the last forty years of rock from his days with Traffic to his stint with early Fleetwood Mac to his long collaboration with Jimi Hendrix. He played some new stuff and some old tunes as well to include his monster top 40 hit “We Just Disagree”, “All Along the Watchtower” as a tribute to Jimi, and he brought the house down with “Doin’ All Right.” After the concert one sixty-plus fan came past me up the aisle shaking his head, saying, “Man, it’s been forty years since I last heard him.” I think his eyes were a little misty. That kinda says it all.
Catch you on the flip side…