Sacrilegious as it seems to some, my favorite English band of the 1960s has always been Traffic. Those classic rock icons/jam-band forebears therein certainly benefited from the presence of child prodigy Stevie Winwood, whose white-chocolate vocals were soulful enough to reach across the psychedelic gap to the Black Bottom. While Winwood merits the “white folks we co-sign” tag, I also have a loving ear for California canyon rock, and another key Traffic player, guitar icon/composer Dave Mason, went on to excel at it—to wit: This season’s heavy rotation reissue has been his fantastic 1971 LP, Dave Mason & Cass Elliot. A great tome remains to be scribed about the down-low colonization project of British musicians who actually settled Stateside and continue to create here, like Mason who recorded his new 26 Letters ~ 12 Notes at his California home studio. Featuring guests like Willie Nelson and Sheila E., it’s a rock & soul set stunningly simple in its greatness, despite Mason having graced totemic recordings like Motel Shot and Electric Ladyland. If only more of his fellow British Invaders would follow suit.
Mon., Dec. 1, 8 p.m., 2008
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 19, 2008