John-Alex Mason has earned a reputation as a worldly, one-man blues sensation: The local talent has shared the stage with legends like B.B. King, James Cotton and, just this past June at a KRCC concert, Robert Belfour.
It's no wonder that his newest release, Town and Country, harnesses the exceptional blues stylings that have made the artist a local fixture. However, you might be surprised to learn how Mason came to be the solo dynamo he is.
The 32-year-old nurtured a passion for the blues early on, when he fell under the influence of his older brother's classic-rock fixation. But along with fixtures like Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers, Mason also acquired a Southern-bred gospel influence from his godmother, whom he visited daily.
He started playing guitar, and during a five-month military-contracting stint in Germany in late 1999, gained perspective on what it means to be a true performer. He played for passers-by on Europe's city streets even playing in front of Paris' Notre Dame cathedral and observed how different cultures took to American blues.
"You have to be on the ball, you have to be good, and you have to be entertaining," Mason says.
Europe's large base of support for live music, and the arts at large, built his confidence over three subsequent trips. Back in the States, Mason continued to branch out from his homebase in the Springs. In 2005 in Memphis, Tenn., a friend introduced him to the full one-man-band setup playing drums with his feet, strumming his electric guitar and delivering the deep and powerful vocals signature to his sound.
Mason showcases this talent on Town and Country, his first full-length recording to feature the rig.
"It's not like a one-man marching band or anything like that," he says. "It's more like, 'Sit down and crank away.'"
John-Alex Mason CD Release Show for Town and Country
The Business of Art Center's Venue 515, 515 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs
Friday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m.
$10 suggested donation at the door; call 685-1861 for more.