Ed Masuga
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Ed Masuga

Berkeley, California, United States

Berkeley, California, United States
Band Folk Blues

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Album: Let Me Tune My Heartstrings, 2010
Label: Self-Released

In short, this album rules. Ed Masuga is best known for his amazing guitar abilities, but this album shows off a lot more than just his musicianship. Masuga's songwriting is near flawless. Melodies, harmonies, solos, the overall structure of the songs all culminate into a record full of accessible and attractive simple folk songs. Masuga incorporates jazz chords and notes off and on throughout this album, some songs more jazz-influenced (see "Daydreaming," track 5) than others.

Masuga hails from Berkeley, California and is the youngest of 10 children. His lyrics are open and honest and poetic, and will make a good day even better if you pay attention close enough. Start with 1, 4, and 7. - WULR 91.5 Lexington, VA


album review of "Ed Masuga" from Performer Magazine:
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Ed Masuga is inseparable from his music. He has been caught playing guitar
and singing while backpacking - even while actually hiking. A veteran of
sorts, he begins his pursuit of music as a career with this 10-song
self-titled release. The album blends rock and folk to display a universally
sweet sound that comes purely from musical talent and sincerity. Without
electronics or fancy studio tricks, the fundamental style is reminiscent of
a natural and rugged place.

The album is mostly acoustic, accentuating Masuga's finger picking and his
engaging, strong voice. Garnishing the album is the occasional snare drum
keeping the beat, a brief harmonica display, a discreet bass and a high
steel guitar. In "Arizona" and "Language of My Love," Masuga uses his finger
picking and crooning to create a cleverly melodic tune while sending out a
message of sadness and satisfaction. "Bad Mouth Bastard" and "Kicked Out"
have a Neil Young downbeat with lyrics that paint genuine descriptions of
distinct situations and emotions. These driving songs can cause some of the
slower songs to appear less consequential at first. As a whole, the album
has the ability to carry the listener to a far away place and mood. And
although the lyrics and sound construct a feeling of longing, it is a
content place.

Recorded in an Arizona ghost town, Masuga's album proves that age-old
simplicity and honesty are both effective and soothing. This Berkeley,
California resident plays all the instruments on his album and has started
gaining notoriety by playing in small venues and coffee shops around the Bay
Area. Here, he has created something that is perfect for road trips, a
before-sleep listen, or when a mix of Belle and Sebastian and Bob Dylan is
in order. (Self-released)

www.edmasuga.com

-Jessica Martinez - Performer Magazine


Elusive finger-picker Ed Masuga reappears with five shows

By Chloe Roth

For the past four years, Ed Masuga has consistently delivered pure folk music. His dichotomously sharp finger-picking guitar and soft melodies make for easy, pleasing listening, and if you close your eyes you might find yourself transported to a Dust Bowl-era railway car. Steeped heavily in the folk tradition, his songs are simultaneously old-fashioned, timeless, and timely. With the bare minimum of Internet presence, the elusive San Francisco-based songster, though he can't be called a Bay Area "native," maintains a mysterious backwoodsman identity. The almost literary stories of his youth seem to come straight out of a Dickens novel. I caught up with Mr. Masuga (that has a nice ring to it!) to ask him how his itinerant childhood has informed his work.

The youngest of 10 children, Masuga lived a rootless childhood, constantly drifting with his large family from shack to motel to forest to casino, usually around the San Bernadino Mountains and Big Bear Lake. Returning from the hospital with a birth tag on his wrist that read "Boy Masuga," and for lack of a chosen name, his family referred to him as "Boy" for the first few years of his life. "When people started calling me Danny, my actual name," Masuga says, "I refused, preferring to go by my middle name Eddie, after the '70s country singer Eddie Rabbit." Masuga grew up around music, his folks and family always singing together wherever they went. Masuga says that his father, who came from a polka-singing Polish family, "has always seemed somehow to know every song out there," which probably helped him win a trip to Puerto Rico on an episode of "Name That Tune" when Ed was "just a tyke." And his mother's traveling occupation, as a cook in bar kitchens, exposed him to a whole world of juke box country music.

Out of all the places Masuga has lived over the years (the East Coast, Alaska, Ohio, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, and Montana), he says that the Bay Area, especially the trees and hills of the East Bay, "has something special that always brings me back." Of Berkeley in particular, where he has lived sporadically since 1999, Masuga says "it's kind of like a second home for me in a way. Or a third or fourth."

Both his 2006 self-titled debut and his 2008 sophomore record Lonely Dog consisted solely of Masuga's unadorned voice and guitar. His new record, Let Me Tune My Heartstrings, breaks away from the sparseness of the first two albums. Female vocal harmonies by Ed's "longtime best friend-extraordinaire Kate Grindlay" meld flawlessly with his voice to create a new fullness, rich and soulful. Flying solo in the past, his live performance has recently evolved into a group project with Grindlay on accompanying vocals, Ethan Lee on bass, and Mike Carreira on drums.

If you check his MySpace page every now and again like I do, hoping to see a local show listed, you'll oft be disappointed. But Ed Masuga has made a sudden reappearance in the Bay Area, with five shows scheduled over the next two months in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and Bolinas. Jump on the bandwagon quickly, for with Ed's wandering ways, who knows when you'll catch him in the Bay again.


COMMENTS

-Truly amazing artist-
Ed's music grows and grows on you. After listening to his album a dozen times it gets into your bones and stays there. I think we all know how truly rare that is in an age of pop music that's like chewing gum that bursts onto the scene, catches on and quickly loses its flavour. Ed's songs have an enduring quality almost like that of the Beatles.
Get ready for an incredible career, Ed.
Posted by Guest @ 2:51 pm

-Meshuga 'bout Masuga-
Saw him live the other day. The man has rare qualities indeed! soulful unique voice that touches you and draws you in, great melodies that manage to be somber and uplifting at the same time, and a finger picking style that's beautiful and has you swaying as if there were drums playing in the room. A must see must hear!
Posted by Guest Shak @ 9:42 pm
- San Francisco Bay Guardian


Ed Masuga is the spirit of Dixie coupled with the flare of a jazz singer; a finger picking maniac; a one man blues orchestra of beautiful clanks and calls. His voice pierces the air, and then pulls away haltingly with a blues tremolo; sputtering like tumbleweed across a dry desert floor. His lyrics are splashed with subtle prose; they’re simple amiable pleasures that seep into an individual’s sense of romance and float like loose lazy times with a lover.
For those like me who have wondered where the talent has gone, the answer is simple: it lurks out of the spotlight of T.V. and radio; in the dark lonely places where art prospers most. Ed Masuga has honed his creative torrent into an uncut diamond that builds itself in the spot-light-less soil. Listening to his dancing finger-pick-fest and his awe inspiring trumpet of a voice was an enriching experience.

Ross Callahan - Amazing Things Art Center - Amazing Things Art Center


Believe your ears: That sweet, folksy voice belongs to the bearded man whose portrait looms inartistically on the front cover. With a guitar, a harmonica, and songs so softly powerful, what good is art?

-Nate Seltenrich - East Bay Express


Discography

--Let Me Tune My Heartstrings, full-length, self-released 2010
--Lonely Dog, full-length album, self-released 2008
--Ed Masuga, full-length debut, self-released 2006

~Country-wide radio airplay on most US college radio stations~

Photos

Bio

Raised on candy and bacon bits in the pine peaks of the west, Ed Masuga is the youngest of 10 children. His family was never satisfied in any one place for too long, and Ed grew up wandering between shacks, motels, casinos, trailers, forests, and bar room kitchens. At two years old he saw his dad compete on the game show "Name That Tune," and though the appearance netted just a jukebox and a trip to Puerto Rico, Ed's future as a traveling musician had been fully inspired.

Employing strong fingerpicking and a powerful, rarified voice, Ed is dynamic in musical range. You'll hear him pick out the roughest, grittiest tune, and then turn around and sing your heart to shreds with an old-time, country love ballad. While Ed's songs are uniquely his own, they have the kind of rough-hewn, ageless beauty that makes them easily mistaken for classics.