Dave Mason - vocals, guitar; Jim Krueger - vocals, guitar; Mike Finnigan - vocals, keyboards; Gerald Johnson - vocals, bass; Rick Jaeger - drums
One of the more high profile music festival events of the late 1970s was held in Ontario California and billed as California Jam #2. A sequel to the original 1974 California Jam, the 1978 event featured a who's who of the rock music elite, including Aerosmith, Santana, Foreigner, Heart, Ted Nugent, Mahogany Rush, Bob Welch, and Dave Mason. ABC presented a television special of the event and a double album of highlights was released on Columbia. The King Biscuit Flower Hour was also on site and broadcast additional excerpts nationwide in the months following the festival.
One of the best performances from this memorable event was delivered by Dave Mason, who was then riding the crest of one of his most successful albums, Let It Flow which had been released the previous year and spawned no less than three charting singles, including "We Just Disagree," his biggest hit to date. By this point in his career, Mason had established quite the pedigree, having been a founding member of Traffic, a traveling member of Delaney & Bonnie's road band and having recorded and shared the stage with some of the most high profile Los Angeles musicians, including Mama Cass Elliot and Crosby, Stills and Nash, who all helped champion his music.
Mason's first solo album, 1970's Alone Together proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was a gifted songwriter, singer, and guitar player with a sharp and distinctive style all his own. Alone Together remains one of the most moving and influential albums of that decade. Mason's spiritually deep pop songs often featured unusual open tunings, surprising melody shifts and displayed an impressive ability at layering electric and acoustic sounds. Although he avoided the flashiness of many of his contemporaries and embraced an economical style of soloing, Mason's guitar solos were always colorful and expressive.
By 1978, when this performance was recorded, Mason had assembled a well-seasoned band that featured his longtime guitar playing partner, Jim Krueger on second guitar and one of the era's most talented keyboard players, Mike Finnigan, who had played on countless sessions, including Jimi Hendrix's classic Electric Ladyland album, on which Mason also contributed (Mason played the acoustic guitar on "All Along The Watchtower" and Finnigan played organ on "Rainy Day, Dream Away"). With the tight rhythm section of Gerald Johnson and Rick Jaeger on board, Mason's band was a force to be reckoned with.
The trio of songs featured in this KBFH broadcast kicks off with two of the most compelling songs from the Let It Flow album, beginning with the title song "Let It Go, Let It Flow." With its shuffling beat and tight vocal harmonies, this was Mason in catchy pop song mode, highlighted with spirited unison guitar breaks from him and Krueger. Also fresh and new at the time is "Takin' The Time To Find." Uncharacteristically funky, this shows the group stretching out a bit and features tasteful organ playing from Finnigan throughout and impressive solos from both Krueger and Mason. However, the highlight of this recording is Mason's expansive take on "Gimme Some Lovin'," a song responsible for bringing his former band mate Stevie Winwood worldwide recognition back when he recorded it with the Spencer Davis Group (of which Mason was the road manager). This begins quite differently than expected, with an intro sequence that is also quite funky, before it launches off into more familiar territory with Finnigan's wailing organ. Finnigan's organ and electric piano work is superb here and although he occasionally interjects some cheesy synthesizer sounds, typical of the equipment of the era, that is kept to a minimum. The entire band cooks on this song and everyone gets an opportunity to solo over the course of its 10 minutes. This set closing excursion shows Mason and, arguably, his best post-Traffic band at the top of their game, performing before one of the largest and most enthusiastic audiences of their career.