Tom Mason: The Blue Buccaneer
I once met a man who believed he was a Roman centurion in a previous life – seriously – and if Tom Mason doesn’t actually believe he was a pirate in a previous life then I think he wishes he was. Tom Mason is a very fine guitarist (not to mention mandolin, banjo etc.) who’s an established part of the East Nashville family. Amongst the well-known names supporting him on this cheerful slice of hokum are Paul Griffith on drums and Eric Brace, Peter Cooper and Phil Lee on supporting vocals (you need plenty of voices for the yo-ho-ho choruses). The whole project seems to spring from his Pirate Song, featured on the last Tom Mason album, with its memorable chorus: “And we’ll all go down, yes, we’ll all go down…with the ship, har har harrr”. Every hackneyed pirate word and the obligatory Bristol burr were present and correct; I heard him perform it live and the big smiles all round that it produced obviously inspired him to go the whole hog. And why not?
So, ten more songs and a couple of instrumentals delve into the treasure chest of pirate lore. For all that it features large in our imaginations, the high tide of pirate activity in the Caribbean lasted barely a generation, but in that time yielded characters and stories a-plenty. Tom Mason clearly knows his stuff and the songs reference various aspects of the real history whilst also acknowledging the freebooting romance of it all that has so inspired Hollywood. The music echoes the fictional spirit with a drunken swagger; fiddle and accordion bounce along, getting all those sailors dancing in your mind’s eye, or in quieter moments relishing the prospect of an open ocean and plunder yet to be gained. In amongst all this fun there are plenty of opportunities to appreciate some great musicianship from all concerned, but mostly this is the musical equivalent of Pirates of the Caribbean, releasing the inner child in us all.
By John Davy