STUART MASON, TRADITION
Native Home Music
Stuart Mason is a West Virginia native who now lives on the central coast of California. He has won awards for singing, songwriting, and mandola. He has played with bands such as Molly’s Revenge, Story Road, and Little Black Train, and this is his second solo release. He came up with the term “oldternative” to describe his music. You can hear that in the arrangement of the opening track, “Red Rocking Chair,” with traditional lyrics and banjo but unusual harmonies and Tony Furtado’s slide guitar. Ryan Davidson, who co-produced, plays bass on most tracks. Amber Cross sings powerful harmony on several numbers. Gary Arcemont and John Weed play fiddle. Kenny Blackwell plays mandolin on “Dark Hollow Blues” and David Brewer plays tinwhistle on a medley of “Coleman’s March” and “Fisher’s Hornpipe.” In fact, each song and tune has a unique arrangement. Mason solo flatpicks another medley of “Flowers Of Edinburgh” and “Staten Island Hornpipe” on guitar.
Mason’s sources are impeccable, and his liner notes tell a lot about where he found the music. “Oil In My Vessel,” for example, comes from the late African-American fiddler Joe Thompson from North Carolina. “The Old Crossroads” is from Bill Monroe. One unusual song is “The Kenny Wagoner Surrender,” which was collected in Missouri in 1960. Mason is comfortable in a traditional style, but he also likes to push his music right to the edge without ever going over it. If you are open to this kind of experimentation, you might want to give a listen to this recording. (Stuart Mason, 351 S. Court St., Los Osos, CA, 93402, www.stuartmasonmusic.com.)SAG