Saturday, August 6, 2016

Mason Proffit: Were You There?

A few months ago, a friend of mine who I’ve known for 40 years said to me, “you play a lot of groups I’ve never ever heard of before.” I just smiled and agreed – the smile was genuine, as I had been successful in exposing folks to recordings they had never had the opportunity to experience. Today is no exception. Typically, I reserve Saturdays for the lesser known of the lesser known. Looking back on my notes, I found a song I had flagged four years ago to feature – the lyrical content makes it appropriate for 2016.

Based in Chicago, Mason Proffit was not a household name, but would you believe at one time they were playing 300 dates a year and some lesser known groups at the time were their opening acts. Perhaps, you’ve heard of some of these artists who supported Mason Proffit: John Denver, the Doobie Brothers, and Steely Dan to name a few. After Mason Proffit disbanded in 1973, the two primary members, Terry and John Michael Talbot, fulfilled the band’s contract with Warner Brothers by recording their first album as The Talbot Brothers.

“Were You There?” speaks to the injustices and atrocities that have been committed upon others because they were from a different ethnic background. “Were You There?” comes from the band’s fourth album, “Rockfish Crossing.” This 1972 release was their first album for a major label: Warner Brothers. Unfortunately, their WB albums failed to chart as high as their previous two albums on Happy Tiger Records and Ampex Records respectively.

This is a great song all the way around; however, the harmonica by Bruce Kurnow makes “Were You There?” really shine. I love this cut.

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