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article imageInterview with Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason Special

By Adrian Peel     Jun 6, 2014 in Music
The celebrated musician and former member of one the most popular bands of the 1960s speaks to Digital Journal about his new album and tour.
One of the founders of Traffic, along with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood, English-born Dave Mason left the original line-up of the band in 1968 after just over a year. He went on to enjoy a productive solo career and also worked with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.
In May 2014, the 68-year-old released Future's Past, his first album since 2008's 26 Letters 12 Notes, and is currently in the middle of his Traffic Jam Tour, where he performs songs from his entire career. The hardworking multi-instrumentalist spoke to me over the telephone from his home in California and filled me in on what he's been doing since the record came out.
"Well, mostly the thing I've been doing for 45 years - touring! Mostly I'm out with a show called 'Dave Mason's Traffic Jam' and I am revisiting stuff from my early days with Traffic for the first part of the show, and then the second half I'm basically doing my own material."
As a band that experimented with a wide variety of different musical styles - psychedelic rock, folk rock, blues, jazz etc. - Traffic certainly stood out among their contemporaries at the time and I wanted to know if the singer-songwriter responsible for some of their best known tunes, "Hole in My Shoe," "You Can All Join In," "Sad and Deep as You" and "Feelin' Alright," to name but a few, has ever regretted leaving the group so soon after their inception.
"Well it was not so much leaving, it was just that what I was doing didn't fit in there, so I had to go out on my own... But no, I mean it was what it is and it's nice to go back and revisit some of the stuff. Most of the material that I do in the show regarding Traffic is pretty much all Jim Capaldi/Steve Winwood songs and one of my own, 'You Can All Join In'."
I quizzed Dave over the title of the new album. "Well I started going with something that had to do with 'back to the future', but new," he explains in his mid-Atlantic accent that now has more traces of American in it than English, "and eventually got it down to 'Future's Past' because I'm revisiting past songs that I feel are, theme-wise, timeless.
"Some of them are done in a brand new way, totally different from the original. There's probably only one that's close to the original... 'Future's Past' because there's past stuff and there's the stuff that is now, and some of the themes in the songs came out so well that it's hard for me to classify the music. There's a lot of different styles on it because I like a lot of different music styles."
"There's one brand new song on there called 'That's Freedom'," he continues, "and there's three songs that were on a CD about 10 years ago that sort of flew under the radar, ie. 'El Toro (Spanish Blues)', 'How Do I Get to Heaven' and 'Good 2 U'. So to me obviously they're still good because such a vast amount of people have heard them."
And the cover was designed by Graham Nash of Crosby Stills and Nash?
"Graham did the cover, yes. He has an art process he's been doing for quite some time where he takes photographs and paints on them. He's had two or three exhibitions around the country, and this was an old picture he had of me. He sent it to me and I said, 'Oh my God, cool, can we use this for an album cover?' and he said, 'Yeah, go ahead'."
The cover of  Future s Past .
The cover of 'Future's Past'.
Graham Nash
Highlights from Dave's solo career include "We Just Disagree," "Only You Know and I Know" and "Every Woman" and he and his bandmates from Traffic were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
Despite all this - and despite having played on such timeless long-playing classics as Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland and George Harrison's All Things Must Past - the artist who included a duet with Michael Jackson ("Save Me") on his album Old Crest on a New Wave in 1980 surprised me a little with his choice of "proudest achievement."
"My proudest stuff is what myself and two other friends do for the vets... We have a charity called 'Work Vessels for Veterans' and we help veterans start their own businesses."
I brought things to a close by asking what many fans of Traffic are probably wondering: Will Dave ever work with Steve Winwood again?
"That's a question you'd have to ask him..."
But you'd be open to the idea?
"Yeah, sure, absolutely... There's a vast audience out there just dying to see us. I know that much..."
Future's Past is available now on iTunes.
Tickets for Dave Mason's Traffic Jam Tour are available here.
For more information, visit his official website.
More about dave mason, Traffic, steve winwood, Rock music, Rock and roll hall of fame