Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers
Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers are a wild band of Nashville musicians who dress like pirates and play a rollicking mix of piratical sing-alongs, rousing historical rave-ups, afro-cuban tinged ballads, Cajun sea shanties, and bluesy Irish jigs, transforming big festivals, performing arts centers, and urban nightclubs into bustling seaside taverns at the turn of the seventeenth century.
After two CD’s of completely original material, Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers recently released “Pirate Party”, a completely uptempo collection including their interpretations of classic sea shanties, some rousing fiddle songs, and four of their own rowdy sing-alongs. “Blow The Man Down” is given a New Orleans parade feel, “Drunken Sailor” a Bo Diddley beat, and “Haul Away Joe” straight out rocks. The CD gives the band some room to stretch out and apply some of their bluesy roots and Tom’s slide guitar to songs that have traditionally been sung a cappella. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a pirate party, or any party for that matter.
The CD "The World is Ablaze" draws on the fact that pirates sailed the world around and pirate crews were an international lot, so their music would be a medley of styles plundered from all over. “Far Far Away” was inspired by the pirate Henry Avery and his crew, who set out as honest sailors but mutineered after going months without pay or adequate food. Avery's crew took a ship of the Mogul Emperor and legend has it Avery fell in love with one of the slaves on board, a tale told in the song "Tattooed Hand", accompanied by the sensuous rhythms of the Indian tabla drum. There’s a klezmer-inspired “Mogul Ship” that give the violin free reign, the bluesy “Any Port in a Storm”, and bagpipes (“The Likes of Me”) and banjo (“Jimmy Gray”)
Their first 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. The 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. 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.
(photo by Viceversarobbi)
Every December Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers perform a show called “A Pirate’s Christmas” based around their holiday CD. The title cut, “Yo Ho Ho, A Pirate’s Christmas” tells the tale of the pirates meeting a curious captain dressed in red in the North Atlantic whose ship of toys was sinking due to the good behavior of children around the world, and despite risking their ruthless reputation, volunteer to help him save Christmas. During the holiday show audience members are pressed into service to sing along on the Blue Buccaneers’ take on holiday classics, as well as being treated to some groovy versions of Christmas carols from “A Pirate’s Christmas” and Tom Mason’s instrumental CD “A Slide Guitar Christmas”.
Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers take great pleasure in touring the world, and are always looking forwrad to their next voyage. Festivals like the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival in Fort Walton Beach and The Minnesota State Fair keep having them back year after year because of our broad appeal combining excellent musicianship with family-friendly entertainment. Recent appearances include The Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin Tennessee, Bluegrass Underground in McMinnville, and the Port Fairy Folk Festival in Victoria, Australia.
Photo by Kelli Dirks
When not donning the tricorn hat with the Blue Buccaneers, Tom Mason tours as a solo act, entertaining crowds with his guitar and dobro playing, his musical story-telling, and songs from his recent solo CD "Salmagundi", an anthology of his non-nautical tunes like "I Thought I Heard a Train", "Chano Pozo's Shoes", "The World is Drunk", and a good bit of slide guitar. Be forewarned, though, his solo shows stray from the typical shoe-gazing sensitive singer-songwriter fare, owing as much to Vaudeville as Nashville.
Photo Paul Schatzkin
Tom Mason has released seven CD’s: "The World is Ablaze", “The Blue Buccaneer”, "Salmagundi", "Alchemy", “Where Shadows Fall”, “A Slide Guitar Christmas” (instrumental), and "A Pirate's Christmas". 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. He toured the US and Europe with Phil Lee, played 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!