(Written long time ago for my old website) Ray Mason is from Haydenville, Massachusetts. This middle-aged gentleman has been around with his guitar for some twenty years now, and it looks like people in the local scene know him and respect him very much, as he was already an object of a tribute album. In his lengthy career, Mason left handful of cassette tapes in the eighties and five cd’s in last five years. He recently compiled his early cassette work on a cd called Square Crazy. That disc includes an interesting collection of great pop tunes with a twist, recalling NRBQ’s sense of humor. All those early tunes are recorded on a simple four track tape recorder, and the sound has a wonderful lo-fi charm. His two last regular issues came out in just a year span. One of them in early 2001 with a great rock’n’roll title When the Clown’s Work is Over. The other one came out in May 2002, Ten Dollar Man.
When the Clown’s Work is Over is full of nice guitar music and some of the songs are written in a righteous rock’n’roll style, and they’re worth of any Dylan’s, Young’s or Wynn’s tune. One can easily see how his style matured from his early tapes without dropping down in quality. My personal favorite is Up But So Loose which in just two minutes tell us a great rock story spiced up with a very creative riff. So you thought that the guitar rock is dead, huh?
Ten Dollar Man is the newest Ray Mason’s Work. He gathered his band again and recorded an album with just 10 songs, filling out just a small fraction of what can be fit on a cd, but all songs are really nice which makes up for the quantity. It’s a collection of tunes all enriched with a fine sense of humor. Similar usage of humor is also done by NRBQ. But what takes this issue a little bit farther is that there’s a special personal seal that all of the tunes carry. The album is very consistent in its quality through all 30 minutes of its lenght.
Mason also has a band Lonesome Brothers that he runs parallel to his solo career together with his friend Jim Armenti. Lonesome Brothers just came up with the new album called Swamptown Girl, which is a little more acoustic than Ray Masons’ solo work, but it’s still filled with cool songs. And what a suitable name for the band! Lonesome is probably the most frequently used name in country and brothers – well I guess Jim and Ray are some kind of creative brothers…