By John Benson
One look at Dave Mason’s history and it’s obvious he’s the Forrest Gump of classic rock.
His illustrious career began at age 18 when he teamed up with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood to form the legendary band Traffic. He later penned the song “Feelin’ Alright,” which Joe Cocker turned into a hit.
Though Traffic’s run was short-lived — the outfit lasted only a few years — its impact is still felt today. That’s why in 2004 the act was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“It’s nice they recognized the value of the contribution of the music and to be a part of all of those many inductees that have been put in there,” said Mason, calling from a tour bus somewhere in New Jersey. “To be honest, I was surprised Traffic didn’t get in a lot earlier. I have no idea what took so long. I always looked at Traffic as one of the original alternative bands with a wide taste in music. That was part of that band — jazz, blues and rock. It was a diverse mix.”
After two years, Mason left Traffic and pursued a solo career. He enjoyed international success with his debut album, “Alone Together,” which included songs such as “Only You Know And I Know,” “World In Changes” and “Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave.”
Mason’s biggest hit came from his 1977 album “Let It Flow” and its radio classic “We Just Disagree.” Oddly enough, though Mason was known for his songwriting, this track was written by his longtime friend and touring musician Jim Krueger.
Even though Mason was pursuing his solo career, the guitarist was a highly sought-after musician who was a part of some of the era’s biggest albums. He played on the Rolling Stones’ “Beggar’s Banquet,” George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass,” Paul McCartney’s “Listen To What The Man Said” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland.”
Mason’s contribution to the latter is performing the acoustic guitar intro on Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower.” Even more impressive is that Mason introduced the most revered guitarist to the Bob Dylan song at a party. Two days later, Hendrix cut the iconic track.
“He was just very unique, basically,” Mason said. “He’s probably the most copied or emulated electric-guitar player around. He was just very inventive, and it was great to be able to work with him. I was lucky that I got to do that. We cut a few things. I don’t know where some of them are. I’m also singing on ‘Crosstown Traffic.’ I was going to work with him for quite a bit, but things didn’t work out that way. But I did get to spend good time with him and, obviously, record with him.”
Today, Mason is thinking about releasing the follow-up album to his somewhat obscure 2008 album “26 Letters — 12 Notes.”
However, because many of his fans don’t even know of the CD, he’s wondering whether it’s even worth the effort to release new material.
So for now, Mason is just touring, appearing Saturday at The Cellar, and, well, “Feelin’ Alright.”
Said Mason, “Everything is good.”