“Chad is an accomplished singer-songwriter…tracks such as Long Way Home and Tonight have the audience captivated”
(Evening News, Oct 2013)
“He’s a witty and engaging character with a sincere and ambitious desire to get at the heart of things”
(R2 Rock ‘n’ Reel, June 2015)
Originally hailing from Oxfordshire, Chad’s emergence as a solo singer songwriter coincided with the move to study in the city of Norwich. Much like that city, he sits away from the main road, but has found a performance style that at once challenges and engage the listener on record, while all the time creating an affable rapport with any live audience he meets.
Building a crowd in Norwich by both playing and hosting acoustic music (including his own night in the medieval environs of Jurnets Bar) he has cleared his own path to perform his own songs and host others from around the UK and beyond. He drew friends far and wide into the creation of his debut album The Meandering Mind of Chad Mason in 2011 – evoking comparisons to early Fairport and Ennio Morricone. Always striking a balance between recording and gigging, he maintains a stripped-back approach live – engaging the room not only with his guitar, voice and harmonica but also his disarmingly witty patter, reasoning that pub and folk-club audiences don’t warm to shoegazers. The bantering has led to a side hustle as a popular music festival compere – Folk in a Field (voted East Anglian Festival of the Year) has installed him as the main stage compere of three years standing.
Chad’s music sits neatly between contemporary folk and alternative, and he relishes performing in either setting. Live highlights include Cambridge Folk Club, London’s Dylan hangout the Troubadour and Salford Music Festival. Supporting Steve Tilston at Norwich’s sadly missed Open venue is also a cherished memory. He even occasionally summons a full band – such as for his debut album launch.
His second release was the more ambitious May ‘14 project - emerging first as a solo Gig Theatre performance at London’s Roundhouse and E17 art trail in 2014 and latterly as a full length album May ’14 and More - “An intriguing homespun release
that evokes Drake, Harper & Barrett” (Rock Society)
Indeed as a qualified actor and scriptwriter, he’s always comfortable cheek by jowl with the other performing arts. He relishes the unusual stages on the fringes of festivals, but increasingly holds his own on the main stage. The Roundhouse performance was initially a one-off but ended up as six shows over the weekend, and larger festivals such as Latitude (twice) and End of the Road (three times) request repeat bookings. Beyond the Uk, he played in Austin, Texas during South by Southwest 2013 and accidentally took the New York open mic scene by storm with seven performances in so many days in 2015, with Greenwich Village’s Café Vivaldi demanding a return performance sadly prevented by the Covid pandemic.
Mason has been no slouch during the pandemic either. While keeping up the day job supporting students in his role as a university theatre technician, he found time to perform over thirty online gigs during lockdown and has two full length albums in the offing. The first, I See Some Light Shining Through the Trees is lockdown-themed and expected at the end of the year. The second - His third “proper” album - will likely be self-titled and has had a thrilling birth so far. Recorded on ¼ inch reel-to-reel in a former RAF command centre, this proves to be both a doubling-down and departure style wise – with electric guitars, mandolins and real echo chambers aplenty.
From Eccles to Brooklyn or back home in Norwich, Chad takes every opportunity to bring the songs – including those from his upcoming records - to new audiences. Where they go, his bizarre yet charming stage patter goes too.
photographs: Angela Rowe