On Saturday, November 12, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason, will be performing at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC). Born in Worchester, England, Mason first came to prominence as the guitarist for the band Traffic. He later embarked on a solo career, which saw the hit “We Just Disagree.” He recorded with pop and rock artists such as Paul McCartney, George Harrison, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Michael Jackson. Mason talked with us from Northampton, Massachusetts about his musical influences, the state of the music industry and what kind of show he will be bringing to the East End.
You originally planned to become a member of the Royal Air Force. How did your transition to music come about?
Joining the Royal Air Force was my dream when I was younger, but once I started listening to Dorsey Brunette, Bill Haley, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, that was it.
In the ’60s, many British rock bands were based in London. Traffic, on the other hand, retreated to a secluded cottage in Berkshire. Did this influence the band?
There were certainly less distractions. Jim [Capaldi] and I were already country boys and the bigger cities weren’t really our thing.
Is there a chance that Traffic will get back together?
You’re asking the wrong person. If I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me that, I’d never have to worry about anything again. But, you’d have to ask Steve Winwood that question.
Your most recent solo album, Future’s Past, was released in 2014. Has your songwriting process changed through the years?
I don’t really put out new material anymore. The internet has killed that part of our business. Making a new album, or CD is an exercise in futility these days. As for the songwriting process, I was never that prolific anyway. Years ago, when I was working on an album, and there was something I felt like writing, I would just write it. But, nowadays, I don’t feel the need to write just for the sake of writing. There’s no real outlet for it anymore.
Do you listen to music the way you did at the beginning of your career?
It depends on my mood. Sometimes I feel like classical or jazz. Other times its reggae. Sometimes I’ll default back to rock n’ roll. I’ll also listen to gospel here and there.
Care to tell us a little about some of the may causes you support?
I have a charity called Rock Our Vets. We don’t just look to raise money. We gladly accept anything that’ll help them. Clothing, computers, trucks, vans…whatever. I’m also on the board of Little Kids for Rock, which provides free musical instruments and music lessons to kids in public schools throughout the United States. When I went to school in England, music and art were just part of the curriculum. Unfortunately, it seems like the American school system has abandoned this.
What can you tell us about the show that you’re bringing to the WHBPAC?
I’m really looking forward to performing Alone Together in its entirety. I’ve played songs from the album through the years, but I’ve never gone out and done the whole thing. I will also be featuring the band that’ll be opening the show. There are some very talented people in there and I think the audience will be pleasantly surprised.
Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach. For more information, call 631-288-1500 or visit whbpac.org.