Tom Mason and The Blue Buccaneers
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Tom Mason and The Blue Buccaneers

Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Nashville, Tennessee, United States
World Americana

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""Dear Foxmorton" By John "Ol Chumbucket" Bauer, creator, Talk Like a Pirate Day"

Monday, March 14, 2011
Dear Foxmorton


After sending out the call for pirates to join us this weekend for Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers, I got this message from an old friend, Mimi Foxmorton, who lives and borrows goats in upstate New York where apparently the weather hasn't been idyllic.
"Dear Asshole,
Greetings from gray, freezing fecking perpetually sunless CNY.
Hope you St. Croixians had a fabulous time.
Don't forget the SPF. I hear sunshine can be a bitch though personally I wouldn't have a clue.
Carry on.
love & kisses
Foxmorton the Pale and Sober"

Hi, Mimi. How're the goats?
First, we on St. Croix refer to ourselves not as St. Croixians but as Crucians. Oddly we refer to things from St. Croix as Cruzan (like the rum.) BUT they're both pronounced the same way, so unless it's a written conversation it's hard to know whether you're referring to a person or a bottle of rum, and often immaterial.
Now, I'm afraid, it gets worse – at least worse from your perspective. Friday at Cheeseburgers was absolutely great. Tom Mason isn't just a songwriter, singer and guitar virtuouso, he's a terrific enertainer. The nine costumed pirates in the crowd were a colorful addition to the proceedings, as always, not to mention quite startling to the large gathered audience. Tom (I call him Tom now, we're buddies, even facebook friends!) knows how to play a crowd. Most of his pirate songs (from his new album, "Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers") have choruses that the audence can bellow along with, which is really the best way to enjoy pirate music, pounding yer mug on the table (beer mug, not your face, although I admit I've never tried the latter.)
For "Throw Me In the Drink," he invited the Crucian pirate contingent onstage to sing the chorus with him, and that was a blast, easily the highlight of the evening as far as we were concerned. When you watch the video (it'll be a couple of days to cut together) you'll even hear some of us going up in high harmony. It's been too long since I shared a stage with Tori, and though it was just a few minutes, damn it was fun!
Another great moment was when he asked for requests. There were two, the classic chanty, "Drunken Sailor," and "Free Bird." He attempted to do them as a medley, although neither he nor the woman who requested "Drunken Sailor" knew many of the words. But "Free Bird" bellowed out as a pirate was priceless! Yes, it'll be on the video. Coming soon!
So a time was had by all. But wait! There's more!
Cheeseburgers (And by the way, it's not just a clever name. they make a great cheeseburger. I prefer mine without cheese, and the cheese I prefer it without is Swiss, but it's still a hell of a hunk of meat, which coincidentally is ... never mind.)
My point is, Cheeseburgers wasn't their only gig on this island tour. They played Saturday night, then Sunday afternoon at Rainbows, which is right on the beach. We wore what I call "pirate lite," because it was quite warm and sunny and the place is open air. Did you hear that, upstate New York? Warm and sunny, open air. Too warm for full pirate gear. Just sayin'
The show was supposed to start at 4. We got there a few minutes late. The stage was all set up for them, but there were no musicians. We ordered beers, which took forever, the place was crowded, and still no band. It was about 15 minutes later that this guy walked up out of the ocean, towelling himself off. It was Tom. I asked if he was concerned about being wet and shorting out on the electrical equipment, but he was pretty calm about it. As he finished drying off and started throwing on his pirate rig over his damp shorts, drummer Paul and bass player Lorne rolled out of the surf, dried off, and the show got under way. What a great gig!
They were joined this time by two local musicians whose names I didn't get, both percussionists, couple of older guys who really knew their stuff. Paul told me later, "Yeah, they were great. I really had to work. I was like, 'Damn, I've gotta be good!'" And they added SO much to the music.
Tom and the band don't have three hours of pirate music, so they interspersed some of their older stuff and an occasional novelty song, including "Sugar, Sugar" (well, they make rum from sugar, and it was a prized commodity pirates seized, so it fit) and "Last Night I Got Loaded." And once again we pirates were back on stage to sing the "Rum diddy" chorus of "Throw Me In the Drink." I think I've got the hang of it, now. Although both times we made sure Millie was closest to the mike, because of all of us Crucian pirates, she's the one who can sing.
Speaking of singing, there was an older guy in the crowd – damn, he must have been as old as me! – who was just hanging out, and then suddenly Tom was calling him up on stage. The story, as I later got it from Tom, was that this guy had come for a vacation from New York in January and sort of forgot to go home, and who could blame him? Tom had heard him singing on the Christi - Island Time


"Review: Tom Mason pirate music CD a pleasant surprise"

At first glance The Blue Buccaneer seems to be a pastiche of sea chanteys and forebitters with an over-the-top piratical theme. The artist and performer Tom Mason appears on the CD cover in 16th-century seafaring regalia, exuding pirate attitude and panache. Nothing subtle here. I put the disc into the player and when the first tune (aptly named Pirate Song) began my first response was, Really?? Yet by the end of the tune I was singing along with Mason in spite of myself, pirate accent and all.

As a collection of drinking songs performed in the tradition of European and American folk music, The Blue Buccaneer works. Pirate music is new territory for this Nashville performer, whose other works have been described as Americana and Vaudeville. Vaudeville definitely describes Mason’s opening number, yet as I continued to listen I discovered his prosaic lyrics and burlesque delivery are enhanced and saved from banality through the accompaniment of a variety of instruments including mandolin, dobro, accordion, banjo and violin. Mason himself plays many of these folk instruments himself, and plays them well. The songs that incorporate the violin and accordion are evocative of gypsy or Romanian folk music, and along with the two instrumental tracts, they are my favorites.

The recording and mixing with overdubs result in what sounds like a live performance. Indeed, Tom Mason is probably best experienced live in a Caribbean waterfront tavern or at a summer Renaissance Festival, with your tankard of warm beer in one hand and a greasy turkey haunch in the other.

Yet once I entered Mason’s musical yarn and acknowledged the intentional burlesque, I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a whole the album succeeds in setting a buccaneer mood for a party, voyage or road trip by evoking the romanticized life of the Golden Age of Pirates. If you can suspend your disbelief at the first song, refill your tankard and enjoy the passage, me hearties. Rife with plundering and press gangs, drinking, doldrums, gallows and shipwrecks, here be seafaring clichés well performed. I’ll wager ye’ll not be able to resist singing along.

Linda Collison - fyddeye.com


"Tom Mason 'The Blue Buccaneer' Gas Station by Stephen Rapid"

Subtitled Songs Inspired by the Golden Age of Pirates and topical with the success of the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise this sets of songs makes a companion set of songs to those found on Rogues' Gallery, the multi-artist compilation double CD. On Tom's last album Alchemy he had a track called Pirate Song and here he expands that theme into a full album of what I assume are self written songs though it's not clear from the album notes who wrote what. But either way this is simply a great album from start to finish even if you might thing that the theme is a limited one. The album does, without a doubt, stay true to it's course with lyrics, melodies and a buccaneering spirit ensconced in that aforementioned golden age but it's all done with panache and style. Above all it's a joyous album in the same way that the Pogues music is with its sense of community and the living of life to the full. Tom Mason is a very talented player well able to turn his skills to several styles of music at the drop of a hat (or bandana). Here he plays guitar, mandolin, accordion, trombone, dobro and banjo as well as delivering assured and accomplished lead vocals. He is joined on the vocal front by numerous friends including Peter Cooper, Eric Brace, Mark Miller, Pru Clearwater and longtime companion Phil Lee. The Nashville musician pool also delivers such renowned players as bassist Lorne Rall and drummer Paul Griffith as a dexterous rhythm section to underpin these songs with a solid foundation. But the over-riding sense here is a contemporary album that is a much fun as it is musically compelling. Tom Mason has made an album is a worthy credit to his talent as an all round music and entertainer. That's the right word as this is an entertaining album that made me smile and made me want to listen to it again. By its nature it draws on several cliches but it surpasses any doubts with its sheer vitality and modern day pirate spirit. - LonesomeHighway.com


"Tom Mason, Actor, Musician, Friend"

Tom Mason is an amazing musician, song-writer, and actor. Growing up in the Twin Cities Mason found an early love for music and theater. Watching his brothers and grandfather play guitar lit the flame early for Mason. He received a banjo at age seven, but by age eleven he was playing guitar in open tunings with a wine bottle neck. He practiced everyday and decided early in life that he wanted to be a performer. At this time the acting bug bit Mason and he started taking acting classes. He has continued to act in plays throughout the country. Vaudeville and old Marx Brothers movies made a huge impression on Mason and he has continued to play the crafts and antics of these performers in his own shows and music.

At age 20 Mason joined an Elvis Impersonator and hit the road in the “tundra” of Minnesota, the Dakota’s, Wisconsin, and Iowa playing guitar and keyboards. Mason arrived in Nashville in 1993. Mason soon established himself as a favorite in nightclubs and studios, he’s also become a sought after actor in theater and film. With his new CD Alchemy, Tom Mason draws on all his talents to create a work filled with magic. Alchemy (see review this issue) is a wonderful collection of songs done in different styles than most Americana CD’s. The music on this CD is a taste of the world that Tom Mason lives. There are blues, gypsy, Cuban, and Americana songs here. My favorites are Chano Pozo’s Shoes, The World is Drunk, The Pirate Song, and Ramblin. All different, all Tom Mason.

Mason is an electrifying performer who never disappoints the crowd. His song renditions and stage theatrics brings the audience to life. Mason is very animated when he performs bringing the audience into the song. His time spent on the theater stages of the world shows through in his music especially in The Pirate Song. Many times a year Mason tours with Phil Lee where the pair of them has the best comedy act going today. Their teamwork in bringing the audience to its knees is legendary. Mason’s sideman work includes playing lead guitar for Eric Brace & Last Train Home, Supe Granda (of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils), and his wife, Australian Pru Clearwater.

A fiery guitar picker Mason can chicken pick with the best of them. His hands make the guitar an extension where his music can flow through the strings. His slide playing is incredible, as I dare say one of the best slide players playing today.

As a solo artist, Mason has released three CD’s “Where Shadows Fall”, the instrumental “A Slide Guitar Christmas”, and the brand new "Alchemy". He has also released numerous collaborative CD’s, including two by the Big Happy on Western Beat Records and one with Swampgrass, and has been featured on such compilations as “For Kate’s Sake: An Americana Christmas”, “The Other Side: Music of East Nashville”, and “Yuletide from the Other Side.

Mason is already planning his next artistic endeavor. He is currently working on a couple of theater shows that include a stage show for Alchemy, a musical, and recording the songs for the musical. He plans to keep touring with Phil Lee and Last Train Home (must see shows). He also plans to tour in the spring supporting his own music and CD’s. Mason is still very involved with acting. He was in the stage presentation of “Ring of Fire” in Los Angeles this past summer and plans to continue that and other plays soon.

Tom Mason is a true renaissance man. He sings, he acts, he writes, and he plays guitar like no other. He is one of the kindest friendliest people you will ever meet. His laughter is infectious as is his smile. Whether on stage acting or performing music Tom Mason is one performer you do not want to miss! Tom Mason is also a great friend! Joyce and I are very fortunate to call Tom our friend. He makes us laugh and forget our troubles whenever we see him perform or just hang out. Please check out Tom’s website at www.tommason.net and his myspace page at www.myspace.com/tommasonmusic where you can check out his music. Watch for him coming to your town with his magical display of talent and wonderment!

Story by: Andy Ziehli
Photos by: Joyce Ziehli
? - Americana Gazette


"Dave Marsh THIS MONTH’S DOWNLOADING PROSPECTS"

Alchemy, Tom Mason (tommason.net)--Mason’s best known as a guitarist but the best songs here are about other kinds of musicians:  “Little Walter,” about the greatest blues harpist of ‘em all and “Chano Pozo’s Shoes,” about the drummer who showed Dizzy Gillespie, then everybody else, the road from bebop to Latin jazz. The rest of it’s focused on sleight of hand, seen sometimes in sinister terms (“Conjuring”) sometimes riotously (“The World Is Drunk,” which is hardly an explanation), and sometimes just as an excuse for tale-spinning, at which Mason’s as talented as he is at fret-work. - ROCK & RAP CONFIDENTIAL?? No. 228


"This Magic Moment by Evert Wilbrink"

Somewhere in the twilight zone between Tom Waits and Kid Creole & his Coconuts there's lots of room for rocky, bluesy Vaudevillians like Nashville's Tom Mason. Mason is a raconteur in the '30s cabaret tradition, where Brecht & Weill met the Ringling Bros & Barnum and Bailey. Absolutely not your average Nashville singer/songwriter, but rather one who could have penned "Sympathy for the Devil," that's close to his style of epic storytelling. The liner notes of the CD proclaim: "13 extraordinary tales of conjurors, healers, virtuosos, pirates, lovers, and sojourners! Marvel at the mysterious melodies performed by the most amazing musicians in the world!"
Every time I've seen Tom wandering somewhere in my hometown he'd be showing another side. I remember him playing trombone with Peter Cooper at the Tomato Fest in 2007. He's been on tour in Europe as lead guitarist for Phil Lee, a position he also filled in Eric Brace's band Last Train Home. He toured as an actor with the Broadway show "Ring Of Fire," and I missed him by a hair when he starred in a vaudeville version of Shakespeare's "Richard III" in front of the Parthenon in our Centennial Park.

I've been taking along Alchemy on my recent drives through monsoon-ed middle Tennessee, and consequently I lost the beautiful CD booklet in some coffee-shop down the road. Please bring it back! It contains all lyrics, from which I anticipated to quote liberally. Tom's beautiful Aussie wife Pru Clearwater (what a handsome couple!) designed a bunch of great mysterious pictures featuring Tom and characters from the album, like Dizzy Gillespie's percussionist Chano Pozo who got killed when he failed to settle a drug debt despite the cash in the shoes he died in; a gypsy woman wreaking havoc on rural Mississippi river towns; a Shakespearean actor whose love for the bottle leads to a gig as a sad clown; and the CD's central figure Amazing Lorenzo, a magician whose beautiful assistant is made to disappear but who he fails to bring back into reality. I take it that his "Stealing Stars from the Sky" is dedicated to Tom's very princes Pru.

Where Berthold Brecht introduces "Pirate Jenny" in the "Dreigroschenoper (the Three Penny Opera)," Tom presents his own buccaneer highlight, "Pirate Song." Jen Gunderman's accordion drowns seamlessly in the Jacques Brel chansonian autumn. Well, Tom's songs may not be as mesmerizing as the three-minute-jewels of Jacques Brell or as fired up by Scott Walker or Dusty Springfield, but seldom have I heard an album that entertains as much as Dylan's Broadway-musical "The Times They Are-A Changing." Great tunes for dancing, too. Maybe Barry Manilow should turn to "Alchemy" to find the song he never found to follow "Copacobana." Come on, Deborah, let's dance the mambo in "Chano Pozo's Shoes."

The "Alchemist" himself plays all guitar parts: the dobro, the trombone, the mandolin and the simpler accordion parts. The more elaborate accordion parts are by Jen Gunderma who played with the Jayhawks and teaches Rock and Roll History at Vanderbilt University. The cast also includes drummer Craig Wright(Steve Earle) and bassists David Jacques (John Prine) and Joey Spampinato of NRBQ fame. There's also a few songs with The Big Happy, a band I first saw at my first July 4 celebration, consisting of two couples: Billy and Jill Block and Pru and Tom.

I don't know how to sell this album to y'all, but play it once, and you keep playing it! Saturday night's going to be a great night out. We're going to see El Mason play most of his album at the Rutledge. And then we'll play the album again on the way home.

PS: Saturday night I went to see Tom perform the album Alchemy live at the Rutledge in Nashville. A great show, very entertaining, from the first note till the encore. Tom had a great time, and so did we. When I left, I finally realized what I didn't like in my review of the album. I missed the word "brilliant." Tom's show was brilliant, and so is his album. Check it out. This guy is different, entertaining AND brilliant!
Evert Wilbrink is a senior contributing editor at FolkWax. Evert may be contacted at folkwax@visnat.com.
- Folkwax Magazine


"Tom Mason Alchemy Gas Station Music"

Tom Mason Actor and musician (or musician and actor), seems like an all-round good guy, living life to the full and keen for us to have some fun with him. He is one very fine guitar player and has got a cohort of familiar Nashville names to help out here - Jen Gunderman, Dave Jacques and Mark Horn of The Derailers amongst them. A joyful melange of American sounds from the modern country of I Surrender (as in, I could imagine Mary Chapin Carpenter singing it)to the Cuban rhythms of Chano Pozo's Shoes, Alchemy displays a familiarity with and love for all the rich veins of twentieth century American music.

Lyrically, there's a lot of unembarrassed hokum here, from the faux-voodoo of Conjurin' to the fakest of fake shiver-me-timbers accents for Pirate Song. This has a cheerful chorus of 'We'll all go down, we'll all go down with the ship' and I saw Tom Mason perform this when I was in the company of a man whose boat had indeed sunk beneath him. It's a measure of the songs pantomine qualities that my companion just grimaced a little, then grinned. There's a loose theme of magic, myth and mystery going on here but Little Walter and Chano Pozo's Shoes are testament to Tom Mason's deep love affair wth music. Mostly it's all about as serious as Kirsty McColl's 'In These Shoes?'.

What is unusual for an Americana record is that songs are frequently extended with long instrumental developments that are absolutely the best reason for getting hold of this cd. Always interesting and coloured by some lovely guitar work from the man himself there is never a sense of these passages rambling on aimlessly but, rather, a strong sense of the thread of the song hanging in the air with all the musicians dancing around it before coming back to the original tune. The Clown falls Down and Stealing Stars are both particularly fine examples of what these guys can do and make you feel that an evening listening to them play would be an evening well spent.
John Davy
John (Biscuits & Gravy) Davy - Flyinshoes.ning.com (Nov 15, 2009) - John Davy John (Biscuits & Gravy) Davy - Flyinshoes.com


"Tom Mason Alchemy Gas Station Music"

An all-round musician, singer and songwriter Tom Mason has been a part of the East Nashville musical community for a long time now, either in his own right or as a valuable sideman. His latest album has little to do with country music but a lot to do with great playing and striking songwriting. It covers many bases that touch on numerous sources that he makes his own from the opening Conjuring which features a great vocal contribution from Sheila Lawrence, who along with Pru Clearwater add strong vocal contributions throughout. Other Nashville notables involved include ex-Derailer Mark Horn, David Jacques, Jen Gunderman, Joey Spampinato and Billy Block amongst others. The eclectic nature of the songs in this cases make the album more interesting rather than having any lack of focus. It is all held together by Mason’s defined and dignified vocals and playing. The songs touch on blues, vaudeville, gypsy music and range from songs like percus- sive Chano Pozo’s Shoes, a somewhat Waitsian The World Is Drunk, the sea shanty Pirate Song and the story telling of The Amazing Lorenzo which would actually makes sense to Chris De Burgh fans. This is a delight of Americana music and all the influences that were awash in that country a century or so ago.Tom Mason makes musical alchemy that delivers it’s magic and deserves a wider audience for its musical wonders. www.tommason.net
Stephen Rapid - Lonesome Highway (Nov 10, 2009) - Stephen Rapid - Lonesome Highway


"Top Pick: "Tom Mason Blends Blues, Theater for Stellar Show”"


“Tom Mason plays terrific guitar and bad trombone, and manages to make each of those things pretty entertaining.
... a show that should combine his flair for theater and his love of bluesy roots music. He’ll play slide guitar, sing plenty of well-written songs, change costumes at some point in the evening, and, yep, growl away on that trombone.”
- Peter Cooper - Tennessean


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

 Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers play with the fervor of the Pogues and the sensitivity of the Buena Vista Social Club. Their songs that transport you to the wildest pub in Port Royal at the turn of the seventeenth century. Their CD “The Blue Buccaneer- Songs Inspired by the Golden Age of Pirates” is a rowdy and evocative work that transcends any aspect of novelty that one might expect at first glance. Tom’s theatricality and musicianship make for an explosive mix. His songs conjure up a life on the seas in an era when the only hope for destitute sailors was to go “on the account”, to become pirates.

The Blue Buccaneers comprise some of the finest musicians in any hemisphere and draw on their rich musical backgrounds to create a work rich with flavor and soul. Drummer Paul Griffith, born on the Isle of Wight and raised in Louisiana, has recorded and toured with everyone from cajun Jo-el Sonnier to John Prine, Sheryl Crow, and k.d. Lang. Bassist Lorne Rall is a fixture on the Americana scene, having played with Lucinda Williams, Rosie Flores, and James Intveld. Michael Webb, the band’s accordionist, has toured and recorded with such acts as John Fogarty, Bobby Keys, Poco, and the Wreckers. Violinist Jens Kramer has toured the country with Broadway shows and is a first call fiddler in New York City. Making cameos on “The Blue Buccaneer” are some of Nashville’s finest singers and musicians, including Phil Lee, Grammy nominees Eric Brace & Peter Cooper, Gypsy Hombre Peter Hyrka, drummer Billy Block, and BR-549’s Mark Miller.

The songs on “The Blue Buccaneer” are all new, yet the mastery of the songwriting gives them the feel of classic sea shanties and world-worn ballads. There are rousing sing-along drinking songs (“Pirate Song”, “In The Drink”), piratical rave-ups (“Queen of the Spanish Main”, “Say Goodbye”), and ballads that bear out the harsh realities of life on the sea (“Wondrous Wind”, “Sail Away”). “In The Service of the King” is a lively tale of a sailor unwillingly pressed into service in the Royal Navy and his desertion to become a pirate. “Decked Out Like The Devil” is a piratical fashion show, in which Blackbeardian pirates dress to scare their victims into submission. Throughout the record, the excitement of Tom Mason & the Blue Buccaneers’ live show is apparent, whether it be at a theater, on a festival stage, at a beach-side tavern, at a rowdy St Patricks day party, or, of course, on the deck of a brigantine sailing through the Caribbean.

As a solo artist, Tom Mason has released four CD’s: "Alchemy", “Where Shadows Fall”, “A Slide Guitar Christmas” (instrumental), and “The Blue Buccaneer”. He has also released numerous collaborative CD’s, including two by the Big Happy on Western Beat Records and one with Nashville’s Lower Broadway stalwarts Swampgrass. He has been featured on such compilations as “For Kate’s Sake: An Americana Christmas”, “The Other Side: Music of East Nashville”, and “Yuletide from the Other Side” and the new “East Nashville Volume 3”. In addition to being a solo artist and bandleader, Tom Mason has played lead guitar for a multitude of artists. Recently, he’s been touring the US and Europe with Phil Lee, frequently plays with D.C. favorites Last Train Home, and with Supe Granda of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils. As an actor, Tom treads the boards from coast to coast. He’s performed in the National Tour of “Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash”, and played Clarence in Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Richard III”. He has also acted in countless other regional productions, and was a guest artist at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Cabaret Conference. Also active in film, Tom’s most recent role was Shams in Pouria Montazeri’s “Shams and Rumi: The Fragrance of Axis Mundi”, a visually stunning film about the Persian poet Rumi’s mystical transformation. Other roles have included kidnappers, drug dealers, the devil, pirates, and Dolly Parton’s Dobro player in a Lifetime television movie.

“The Blue Buccaneer” is a rollicking account of privateer life that brings together the many aspects of Tom Mason’s storied career: singer, songwriter, actor, conjuror, and, yes, PIRATE!

Contact: Gas Station Music (615) 414-8815
gasstationmason@hotmail.com