In retrospect, something about the power-trio format lent itself to the late-sixties, early-seventies era in rock, particularly hard-rock, music. Perhaps three people making such a noisy roar was indicative of a time when young people felt they could sound their individual voices separate from any identity within a larger group. The music of bands such as Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Grand Funk Railroad and Mountain were essential templates for younger bands of the Richmond-Norfolk-Virginia Beach region of Virginia. One of the first recorded bands from that region was the trio Mason, a lean unit put together by Steve Arcese (organ, bass, vocals), Jim Galyon (guitars, flute, saxophone, vocals), and powerhouse drummer Morgan Hampton. They culled British hard-rock influences with more immediately accessible musical models such as beach music and American R&B and began playing local stages Peabody's Warehouse and the Dome, as well as ubiquitous weekend gigs in the proliferative Fan district of Richmond, which on any given night would be host to the bands of Bruce Springsteen (Steel Mill) and Bruce Hornsby as well as acts such as Short Cross and Lynard Skynard. Mason, however, was the only one of these groups that had recorded an album, Harbour, released in 1971. By that point, three years into the band's existence, they would routinely draw five to six hundred fans to a performance, and that fan base only progressed over the next couple years to the point that Mason was performing concerts to audiences upward of 15,000 by 1973. By 1974, though, Mason broke up without ever having gained the commercial success of some of their regional contemporaries.
by Stanton Swihart