Dave Mason has lived the life of a rock and roll legend largely by staying in the background. He began as a guitarist in the band Traffic alongside Steve Winwood before burnishing his role as a backup player for the likes of Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Paul McCartney. Even Mason’s most famous song—“Feelin’ Alright,” penned for Traffic’s eponymous 1968 album—is best known as a Joe Cocker hit. Not that Mason seems to mind. “There are around 50 major artists who recorded it and released it,” says Mason. “Probably every garage band in the world has played it at some point. It doesn’t bother me.”
He has experienced his fair share of individual success, releasing more than a dozen solo albums since 1970, a body of work on full display as part of his U.S- and Canada-spanning Traffic Jam tour. “The show is basically a musical journey from early Traffic stuff all the way up to my new material,” says Mason of the current leg, which stops at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley this month. Despite being 68 and charting a lifetime of rock career high points, he shows no sign of slowing down. “Performance-wise, I suppose I’m at my peak, at my best. I’m as good as I’m ever going to be,” says Mason. “I don’t know what I would do if I stopped, anyway.”
Dave Mason’s Traffic Jam, 20th Century Theater, Feb 5, the20thcenturytheater.com
Originally published in the February 2015 issue.