Willy Mason: The Real Deal
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After catching the show at the Bowery, Tweed hit the green room to talk with Massachusetts folk singer, Willy Mason.
Bill: On first listen of Where the Humans Eat, I hear a lot of the Carolinas, this sort of folk and country fusion--even a little bit of the Bayou. Then, I look and you're from Martha's Vineyard and that was really shocking to me. So, what I want to know is how that sound evolved? How did you get into a country/folk/blues type thing?
Willy: It came from my parents and the local community. When I was growing up, my parents used to hold--on New Years eve and Christmas and stuff--these music parties where they'd bring in all the neighbors, all the family's and they'd just sit down and jam and sing songs together and bang on some spoons and, you know, whistle into whiskey bottles or whatever. So the thing about the island is, you get a pretty stark view of the mainland when the summertime hits, I mean, the main industry on the island right now is tourism so you get tourists in the summertime. But in the wintertime, it's such a small place and so isolated with so few music venues and movie theaters and stuff like that, people tend to make their own entertainment. So the way that it comes off sounding is like living room music 'cause everyone just ends up making it in their living rooms.
Bill: From what I've read about you, Martha's Vineyard seemed like a place you wanted to get away from. It seems like an "I'm gonna pack my guitar up, get the hell outta here and go to New York" type thing. Is that true? Do you feel that musically, Martha's Vineyard was holding you back? Did you feel like you needed to go out to expand, to do this folk rock thing?
Willy: I felt like it was limiting my experiences because it's such a small, isolated place and I wanted to--it's kinda like growing up in a bubble. You can learn a lot from that bubble about self-sufficieny, about community and, um, trying to form your own identity under an unusual circumstance. But at the same time, I wanted to go and see things that I was hearing about on the news and stuff. I wanted to get a sense of my country firsthand. So that made me really eager to hit the road and get the hell outta there and also to form my own identity. So, you know, when you grow up with the same group of people, they still look at you the way they looked at you and they're great--which isn't bad. It keeps you honest but you have to get a little freedom from that from time to time. But the other thing about the island is that, you really get, as far as classes in America--you get a weird cross-section of classes on the island. Before tourism became the main industry, farming and fishing were the main industries. But now-a-days there's a prominent working class that tends to support the summer folks when they come over. So if you move to the island as a fulltime resident, the main industries are carpentry, painting--that sorta stuff. But at the same time, you are living in such an idealistic place--it's not the same working class as everywhere else. So I definitely have kind of a skewed perspective on that. Its not necessarily reality. Bu
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