The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

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.


huskermould said...

Wow. That pic is certainly one of a man from many a day ago. I wish I could've seen him play guitar. Legend had him playing a man riff...

kerrixx1 said...

SWAC....haven't seen you over at my place.....

It's been quite awhile since we emailed. Mine used to be the I DREAM OF CHOPPERS blog. Drop by. I'd love to hear from you!

stickman_7 said...

I first met Dutch in Kentville, N.S. in the mid 60's when he was playing the Top Hat Club with some of the old Rockin' Rebels including my drum mentor Ken Clattenburg. I used to sit in on a few sessions on Saturday nights and up till then had never seen anyone except "folkies" and classical guitarists finger pick. Dutch played a Telecaster (I believe), but regardless, the sounds he produced would make your heart cry. He was a true grass roots bluesman who I'm sure had more fun playing with, and for other musicians than for the public. After I moved west in the 70's I followed his carreer and his diminishing health and was very saddened to learn of his passing. From the Riverboat in Toronto to the Top Hat in Kentville, I'm sure a lot of Canadians missed the fact that we had a real gem in Dutch.