Willy Mason at The Middle East Upstairs - Thursday 5/3/12
Willy Mason is simplistic man, in the absolute best sense of the word. He strode onto stage at The Middle East Upstairs Thursday night quietly with purpose. Mason is a troubadour of sorts, made happy simply by singing songs of love and life’s lessons for anyone who will listen. As he approached the mic, abundantly comfortable in his surroundings, his deep, brooding voice broke into songs spinning images of wayward landscapes and life’s darker experiences.
As his set began, with no elaborate introduction or forced enthusiasm, the crowd gathered close and let the music envelop them. It was obvious who the long time fans were and impressive, although not surprising, to see his well seasoned artistry capture the attention of many who had never heard work before. While Mason has only released two full length albums he has a hand full of EPs out and has been making music for nearly a decade. He has a wealth of life experience to draw from; experiences that turn his songs into weary laments shrouded in maturity and understanding.
With no more than his guitar and upright bass Mason was contemplative and observant. His melancholia lined lyrics were the perfect companion to beautifully complex and warm finger picking and created an atmosphere of introspection and deep engagement. “Pickup Truck” weaved the tale of a girl looking for a home within herself and “Oxygen” despondent, yet hopeful desire to be something more”. He noted Boulder, Colorado’s pension for secrets with “SimpleTown”, and the memory of childhood with “Riptide. His unpretentious set ambled on with a modest rendition of his newest track “Restless Fugitive”. He wrapped things up, accompanied by Tallahasseedrummer, Matt Raskopf with a beautiful rendition of “Hard Hand to Hold” and “Save Myself” and all the while the crowd listened, completely enthralled and utterly satisfied.
Mason has released two full length albums - If The Ocean Gets Rough and Where The Humans Eat -and is currently preparing to release a third. As the album’s debut nears and his performances continue to leave concertgoers in awe, it is clear that he is a rare breed. There is no glitz or glamour, no forced mannerisms or gimmicks, just himself and his love of his craft. Despite his many years of touring and recording, Mason still seemed genuinely surprised by the uproarious applause given after each song. He was humble and gracious in his thanks, demonstrating an equal admiration for the fans that had trekked out to see him play