Dave Mason to play Bearsville

Dave Mason (photo by Chris Jensen)

Dave Mason (photo by Chris Jensen)

Dave Mason has been at it for 50 years. His early career seemed to be mostly about leaving, rejoining, leaving and rejoining the jam-leaning psychedelic rock band Traffic, and capturing his ambivalence about the band is the 1968 Traffic song “Feelin’ Alright,” the I – IV rock staple that was not a hit originally, but became one in the spazzy hands of Joe Cocker.

Next for Mason came an impressive series of albums in an easygoing, vaguely tropical vein. They were chart middle-huggers. They didn’t peak high, but they lingered and were, collectively, a visible and continuous presence in the mid-‘70s: Dave Mason (’74), Split Coconut (’75) and Let it Flow (’77).

The defining characteristic of Mason’s solo work is its agreeability: the almost-unconscious ease and the unforced richness of his singing, the low dynamic ceiling of his lush pop/rock productions. It’s not quite yacht and it’s not quite lite, though it is often called both; it is instead best understood as one case study of British blues and psychedelia maturing into its ’70s singer/songwriter beard. Maybe you shouldn’t ask too much of it, but if you accept it on its terms, the truth about Dave Mason’s humble take on classic rock is that it always feels “alright.”


In 2008, Mason released 26 Letters, 12 Notes, his first album of new material in quite a while. The older Mason is actually more possessed of a temper and a nasty streak. This guitarcentric effort is bluesier, grittier and simpler at the core than anything that he has done before.

Dave Mason, Friday, July 12, 9 p.m., $60/$50/$35, Bearsville Theater, 291 Tinker Street, Woodstock; (845) 679-4406, www.bearsvilletheater.com.