The month of October at The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts has offered a series of concerts through which I’ve lived and relived part of my own musical history.
Having seen Paul McCartney and then Ringo Starr in the main H-E-B Performance Hall, followed by Art Garfunkel in the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater, I spent last night with my 22-year-old daughter, Lauren, on the banks of the San Antonio River as Dave Mason and his band performed on The River Walk Plaza.
While I have raved about the acoustics and environment in previous reviews here in the Rivard Report, this concert was different. Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam World Tour outdoor concert was set with the Tobin Center as its own stage. Surrounded by the open spaces of the plaza and carefully-appointed palm trees, we were taken on an adventure of musical history that has spanned more than 50 years.
First, a Quick History Lesson
It’s hard to name another musician who has contributed so much to the fabric of so many great songs and has been a member of as many accomplished musical groups as Dave Mason.
Mason worked with Jimi Hendrix arranging Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and played acoustic and 12-string guitar on the famous Electric Ladyland version. He also toured with Delaney & Bonnie with George Harrison and Eric Clapton — the only time in history when they (Harrison and Clapton) played together as backup musicians for another band. Like Clapton, he went on tour with Delaney & Bonnie in 1969, where he also got chummy with George Harrison.
Mason was also originally in Derek and the Dominos, and Duane Allman took over the second lead guitar when he left for the “Layla” recordings. He is on a couple of tracks — “Factory Girl” and “Street Fighting Man,” of the Rolling Stones’ “Beggars Banquet.”
And Now – On With The Show
Staying true to his 16-piece set list for this tour, Mason is best known as being a founding member of Traffic and played some of the band’s best music last night including “Forty Thousand Headman,” “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” and “Pearly Queen.”
His biggest song, hit-wise, was “We Just Disagree,” which, along with “Feelin’ Alright,” was also played by Joe Cocker.
A few minutes after the concert, he came out to sign albums, CDs, and T-shirts. We got an early spot in the line, got a signed CD, shook hands and thanked him for his contributions to music and a very special evening.
On A Very Personal Note
Last year to the day, one of my best friends for the last 40 years unexpectedly passed away.
My friend, Bob, was loyal to his family, a very successful entrepreneur, accomplished photographer, and a huge Dave Mason fan.
When our children were younger, we went on vacations together. When we’d all travel, he’d make musical mixes, often with the music of Dave Mason.
There was one song that Mason wrote and performed last night for his longtime friend and collaborator, Jim Capaldi, called “How Do I Get To Heaven?” Like my friend Bob, Capaldi left this earth way too early.
Capaldi wrote the song but never recorded it, and as fate would have it, the lyrics were discovered and, as Mason explained in the concert, “I wrote a bridge for it and this is what came out.”
While playing this song, a huge sense of warmth overcame me. I watched Lauren out of the corner of my eyes as she was intently engaged in the moment.
Somehow I knew Bob’s presence was there, sharing a very special moment, as the three of us spent an evening of musical delight on the banks of the San Antonio River with Dave Mason at the Tobin Center.
*Set/featured image: Dave Mason performed his “Traffic Jam World Tour: 1967-2015” at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Alan Weinkrantz.