Published on November 21st, 2011 | by Sam0
Going Deeper with Country Music: Brent Mason
The quote everyone says about Mason is that you may not have heard of Brent Mason is, but you have certainly heard him! He has been the A-list studio musician for the past 25 years. During the 90s he was on many of the genre-defining recordings by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Brooks & Dunn, Trisha Yearwood, Hank Williams Jr, Toby Keith, and Shania Twain. It was not uncommon for Mason to appear on 50+ recordings in a year! His pace has slowed somewhat in the 2000s, recently only appearing on about 30 recordings each year. He plays on just about every major release since 1988.
Brent Mason has redefined country guitar. His style has one foot in traditionalism and one in the modern sounds of country music. He combines very creative string bending with staccato chicken pickin’. He also playing blazing bluegrass-esque country bebop lines.
His gear has been written about extensively on the web, just do a search and you can find a slew of information on his guitars, amps, and effects.
Where do you start with Mason then? There is a ton of material out there with Brent. For my money, his best recordings are with Alan Jackson. Jackson’s music is has a classic feel to it. A Lot About Livin’ features some of the best Brent Mason playing as a sideman. Recently, Jackson’s hits have been included in a compilation called 34 Number Ones, a great place to get a ton of great Mason solos on Alan Jackson songs. Check out his solos to “Chattahoochie” and “Summertime Blues”.
Another great recording is Mason’s first solo album, Hot Wired. The title track alone is a textbook in country guitar playing. It’s
out of print but some of the tracks can be found online. To hear him in a much more calm environment, check out the Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and Ray Price double disc set, The Last of a Breed. Mason channels some of his western swing roots on this one.
Going deeper with country guitar
This is a series dedicated to readers who would like to get into country guitar. Maybe you’re starting like I did-coming from alt-country trying to find the best recordings to start listening to. Maybe you’ve already started listening and want to get deeper into other sub-styles. These are all short profiles of genres and major guitarists in country music.