City Winery Atlanta played host to legendary singer-songwriter and guitarist Dave Mason on Thursday night for the opening gig of his 2023 Endangered Species Tour. City Winery is a franchise founded in 2008 that offers an intimate concert setting within a fully functioning winery in major cities beyond just Atlanta, including New York, Chicago, Nashville, Boston, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Hudson Valley. The Atlanta location is an entertainment cornerstone of the Ponce City Market, a 2.1-million-square-foot historic downtown building that was originally used by Sears from 1926-1987 as their catalogue facility and is now a mixed-use development destination with a food hall, shopping and living spaces.
For those unfamiliar, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Mason left the band Traffic in 1969 to pursue a solo career and has been credited with achieving three gold albums (Alone Together, Dave Mason, Mariposa De Oro) and one platinum album (Let It Flow) in his six-decade career. Mason is also a prolific and accomplished influencer to the history of music, contributing to or performing on a number of famous recordings including The Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Paul McCartney and Wings’ Venus and Mars, and Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, where Mason is featured playing acoustic guitar on the track “All Along the Watchtower.”
Warming up the early date night crowd at 8:00pm was singer-songwriter Thunderstorm Artis. Artis, perhaps best well known for his success as a finalist on The Voice television show (season 18, February to May, 2020), captivated the audience with his sparkling smile, soaring voice, and passionate guitar playing. He held the quiet room’s attention for a solid 30 minutes with performances of such hits including “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, and “Blackbird” by The Beatles.
Artis also sprinkled in a few personal anecdotes throughout his set, sharing that he comes from an Hawaiian family of 11 siblings, and that in fact his real name is actually Thunderstorm. He joked that his parents wanted twins and they were going to name them “Thunder” and “Storm,” but when he was born as the sole fat baby, he ended up with the combined name. Beyond touring with Mason, Artis mentioned that he would be out on the road supporting Train later this year, so do yourself a favor and don’t skip his opening set.
Sharply at 8:45pm, the venue lights dimmed and the house announcer welcomed Mason and his band to the stage in front of a capacity crowd. With Ray Cardwell (bass), Marty Fera (drums), Tony Patler (keyboards), and Johnne Sambataro (guitar) in support, Mason opened the evening with “World in Changes” from his 1970 debut solo album, Alone Together.
Mason is a permanent fixture in the annuls of music history, and having an opportunity to watch the 76-year-old perform live was simply a pleasure. When the instrument is a clear extension of the person wielding it, you witness magic, which is what Mason delivered Thursday night to his adoring crowd.
As expected, a good portion of Mason’s set was influenced by his contributions to Traffic, including the familiar tracks “Rock and Roll Stew,” “Forty Thousand Headmen,” “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” and “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.” However, I really enjoyed Mason’s covers of the popular tunes “We Just Disagree” by Jim Krueger, and Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home.” With the crisp acoustics of the space, the band’s tone amazingly complimented Mason’s enduring vocals.
The evening started to wind down around 10:00pm with Mason joking that it was “past my bedtime,” but he told the crowd that it was time for audience participation. With a preamble comment that “I am pretty sure everyone in this room has karaoked to this song at some point in their life,” the band launched into the 1968 classic, “Feelin’ Alright.” The crowd jumped to their feet, with Mason alternating the chorus between the men and the women, much to the joy of the audience. Then, after a quick “commercial break,” as Mason called it, the band returned to the stage to conclude the show with an uplifting cover performance of acclaimed 1967 Bob Dylan song, “All Along the Watchtower.”
The best way to sum up the night is to share a comment I heard on the way out of the venue while Mason was meeting fans after the performance – “Eric Clapton has nothing on Dave Mason.” Mason’s Endangered Species Tour continues on to the Charleston Music Hall in South Carolina this Saturday, and will conclude in Chicago, Illinois, at the City Winery Chicago on Tuesday, February 21st.
1.) World in Changes
2.) Only You Know I Know
3.) Rock and Roll Stew (Traffic song)
4.) Forty Thousand Headmen (Traffic song)
5.) Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic song)
6.) The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (Traffic song)
7.) We Just Disagree (Jim Krueger cover)
8.) Look at You, Look at Me
9.) Can’t Find My Way Home (Blind Faith cover)
10.) Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave
11.) Let it Go, Let it Flow
12.) Road Dogs
13.) Feelin’ Alright? (Traffic song)
14.) All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover)
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