Mason's Jar of jam
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Mason's Jar of jam

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CEDAR CITY -- When a band jams, it signifies that it is playing music in perfect harmony. What better way to relay that to the public than incorporating it into your name. That's what Mason Cottam did when he formed the rock quartet called Mason's Jar of Jam just six months ago.
"To hear these four instrumentalists play together, you'd have thought they'd been together for six years, not six months," said Rich Panessa, a St. George fan. "I organized a music marathon on April 8 in Ancestor Square and I wanted to close with these guys because they play so wonderfully.

"It was a nice, warm night that ended on a high note with this group because people enjoyed themselves and really liked their music. They are no ordinary band because they appeal to people of all ages and they're really talented," Panessa added.

Now music enthusiasts will be able to discover that for themselves with the self-release of the Cedar City band's debut album set for June 8. The independent artists who comprise the band are lead vocals and guitar player, Cottam, bass guitarist, Charles Triplett, keyboard/guitar and back-up vocalist, Steve Lemmon and on the drums, Shawn Owens.

"We're originators, not imitators," said Owens. "We're more into this for the music and to express ourselves, and so we perform a good blend of folk and pop that has a feel to it like Dave Matthews or John Mayer."

Tim Cretsinger, Groovacious store owner and founder of the music festival Groovefest, has an additional viewpoint on the four-some.

"These guys are getting it tight. Mason's vocals have never sounded better and the new band is an asset to his talents," Cretsinger said. "We love Mason's Jar of Jam and can't wait to play this (new CD) in the store."

Combined, the group can claim more than 40 years of experience in the music industry. Cottam, originally from St. George, has his own studio and teachers guitar lesson to 50 people ranging from young children to adults. He credits his wife, Melanie, of the last seven years for her encouragement to making music his living.

"She is my sweetheart. I've always enjoyed music and took piano when I was eight but really began to get into it when I turned 15 and learned the guitar," Cottam said. "About four years ago, I made it my career."

A chain of events from playing with the band, "Gradient" led Cottam into a chance meeting with Owens. The irrigation operator from St. George was freelancing as a session drummer and played on occasion with Gradient, which has since broken up.

"One day our paths crossed and he asked me to play for him and I thought 'why not?'" Owens said.

Triplett, an Iron County deputy sheriff, was a member of "Whoduhthunk" that stopped playing together so Cretsinger referred him to Cottam. It took some convincing, but Cottam finally talked Triplett into joining him and Owens. The three worked together on songs written and arranged by Cottam and decided to do a recording. That's where Lemmon came in.

"Steve owns Spiral Recording Studios in St. George where we were recording and he was the engineer helping us with the recording by having us set-up in different rooms and as we were recording, he got interested in us and asked to audition," Owens said.

Lemmon has played a variety of instruments for several bands, including the Sam Payne Project. His studio expertise matched with the entire band's love for music would like to see some attention from some major record labels, but if that never happens, it won't stifle the band's drive to play myriad of tunes.

Ranging from bluegrass featuring a mandolin with the "Color of the Sky" to dark and heavier rock with "Disallowance," the 10 songs featured on the CD are as diverse as they are melodious - compelling one to get up and dance. The band's appeal would be just as fitting in the Eccles Center or the O.C. Tanner Amphitheater as it would be in an intimate setting of a wedding reception or coffee house.

So far, their performances have been as varied as their genre that is a mixture of jazz, folk and rock. They headlined the Opera House in St. George to welcome in the New Year at "First Night" and have 30 shows under their belt from art festivals, private clubs and the annual observance of Earth Day at Zion National Park.

"We're here to have a good time and play music, and by doing that, hope people will have a good time with us," said Cottam. "We play good music and it is our desire to share that with the launch of our CD we're offering at a discounted price of $10. We invite young and old, families, and any one who wants to, to join us for our release party on June 8. We'll be jammin'."


Originally published Friday, June 1, 2007





- spectrum


On the surface, "Mason's Jar of Jam" appears to be your typical improvised group of local musicians who got to-gether through various connections and decided to form a band for no specific reason other than a good time.

Drummer Shaw Owens met guitarist/vocalist Mason Cottam through the Southern Utah Songwriters Association, who in turn met bass player Chuck Triplett. While in the studio, sound engineer Steve Lemmon pulled his guitar off the shelf and Mason's Jar of Jam was a real band.

Combining elements of Nu Jazz, Country and Folk/Pop, their music may be difficult to define but their intent is clear. "It is high time a band from Southern Utah get some much deserved national recognition," Owens declared.

Featuring Cottam's soothing vocals, their debut CD contains tasty flourishes of mandolin, violin and even brass such as on "Lately," a bluesy torch song that feels experimental but demonstrates the band's flexibility and determination to avoid musical stereotypes.

With lyrics that are by design positive if a bit ethereal, their overtly obvious band name disguises a band with hidden textures that rewards the careful listener.

Written by Bruce Bennet - Independent (So. Utah) Sept. 2007 issue


Discography

Mason's 'Ageless Queen' was the feature song for the documentary, "Canyoneering the Colorado Plateau," which is sold at the visitor museums in the major national parks.

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Bio

In the midst of the constant downfall of flashy, 'in your face media," comes a simplistic approach to creating music- Mason's Jar of Jam. Get some bread, some peanut butter, and add just the right amount of "jam". It sounds simple and cheesy, but it works.
Mason’s Jar of Jam includes Steve Flaig, drums/percussion; Kiley Astle, violin/backup vocals; Marc Kolodziej, bass; Steve Lemmon, lead guitar/backup vocals; Mason Cottam, acoustic guitar, vocals. Each of these good folk couldn’t be more different than sweet to sour and hot to cold. With that comes the ability to blend in the proper amount of each ingredient to create an assortment of musical essence. Mason's Jar of Jam members combine their individual flavors, adding just enough of the sweet stuff, to draw in even the most skeptical of critics.

Knowing what genre’ to put their music into has been a challenge, but what can they say, they hate to eat the same thing for every meal. Sometimes you need a little jazz; sometimes you need a little funk. Oh, I know , could you pull out the mandolin and give me a little bluegrass for dessert? Make sure you put just enough rock‘n’roll on the top? That's how they like it!