The Cool Hall of Fame #59
Dutch Mason (left, with trio members Ronnie Miller and Ken Clattenburg)
The name of Dutch Mason likely doesn't mean much to anyone living outside of Canada, but here at home, Norman "Dutch" Mason was our Prime Minister of the Blues (so-named by none other than B.B. King), born in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and a constant presence on this country's music scene from the '60s right up until just before his death on Christmas Eve.
He was a complete character; the most skilled user of profanity I've ever experienced (his influence is deeply felt on the TV series Trailer Park Boys, created by Ken Clattenburg's son Mike) and a nudist who rarely wore clothes when behind closed doors. To his detriment, he didn't care much about the music business, and experienced his share of hard times as a result, but he loved to make music and perform, and felt the blues to the bottom of his very soul.
I suppose Dutch could have tried harder to be more famous or successful. He could have got a high powered manager to break him into the European market, or hired lawyers to ensure that he wouldn't get ripped off by any number of record labels and assorted music industry lowlifes (and guarantee that the rights to his recordings would make them available today, instead of rare as hen's teeth). But to Dutch that probably just seemed like a lot of work, seeing as he didn't particularly seem to care where he was playing, as long as there were people there to see him.
Mason played from-the-gut, cigarette-burned, working class blues that people liked to get drunk to, and lived exactly the kind of hard life you'd expect from a musician that played that kind of music. But he was also generous with younger musicians, often inviting them on stage to play, sometimes even giving them some of his old gear if he took a shine to them. And bit by bit, he built a love for the blues in the Great White North.
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