Although Mason Brothers have played only three shows to date, they've already made an impression. Paige Harbert, who books shows at the Grace Street rock haven The Nanci Raygun, was turned on to the band through the club's sound technician, who saw a performance at the University of Richmond. "After one listen to their demo recording, I fell in love," she says. "Their first show at Nanci Raygun was a few weeks ago with Planar and the Silent Type and blew everyone away. Their stage performance has a sort of graciousness about it. I am thrilled that more bands like this are playing in Richmond."
Have Guitar, Will Travel: Being raised by musical parents has its perks. "Growing up, we always had really nice guitars lying around," James recalls. The younger of the two Mason Brothers, he started playing the six-string in grade school, honing his skills by playing along to classic rock solos. Bob Dylan and Nick Drake were early influences, but for meatier guitar solos, James turned to Slash from Guns 'N Roses. "I thought his sense of melody was cool," he says.
Christian caught up with his brother years later after picking up the guitar while in college at the University of Virginia. "We both had our own interests at first," James says. "But eventually our interests intersected. It was kind of a 'Eureka!' moment." Acoustic shows got the brothers noticed in the Charlottesville music scene. In 2003 James released his first solo effort, "Carnival Sky," on Durham label Sonoface Records. The record, which featured Christian's guitar work on three songs, drew praise from places as far away as Luxembourg and Greece for its stripped-down acoustic ballads, redolent of L.A. troubadour Elliott Smith.
Welcome to the Machine: Mason Brothers plan to record their first album this winter at Reina's small analog studio. Touring poses more of a problem, with both Masons pursuing master's degrees at Virginia Commonwealth University (James in writing and Christian in applied math). But as a band, they plan to inundate the local music scene as much as possible, starting this week. You can honor thy Brothers with your presence at the Richmond's Revenge local showcase series Sept. 14 at the Nanci Raygun. Kate Bredimus
Mason Brothers play Richmond's Revenge at the Nanci Raygun with Delegate, Planar and Anousheh Khalili Thursday, Sept. 14. 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.
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