If anyone ever fires Dave Mason, he could claim, “Hey, I’ve QUIT better bands than this!” — and he’d be right.
He quit Traffic three separate times, so embracing that piece of his past in “Traffic Jam” — the mixed-media show he brings to The Egg on Saturday — seems surprising somehow. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
While Mason co-founded Traffic (with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood), he left after the band released its 1967 debut album “Mr. Fantasy.” Then he rejoined during sessions for the second album, “Traffic” (1968).” But he quickly left again — returning briefly for the tour that yielded “Welcome to the Canteen” (1971) — Traffic’s last release.
Restless, relentless, Mason made an album with Cass Elliott (The Mamas & the Papas), and he toured with (and kind of joined) Delaney and Bonnie & Friends — as did Eric Clapton. Then both left; so when Clapton formed Derek & the Dominoes, Mason was his first choice to play second guitar. Mason joined, just long enough to play some sessions and the band’s first show.
Then he quit, apparently realizing his desire to control things suited him to be a solo artist and bandleader rather than a collaborator or band member. When he released his “Alone Together” debut solo album in 1970 — on multicolored vinyl, it’s a collector’s item — the guitar solos were so hot and hit so hard that fans thought it was Clapton. But it was all Mason.
He joined Fleetwood Mac in 1995 but quickly left. Same thing with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.
While Mason has recorded with Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Graham Nash, Phoebe Snow, Joe Walsh, David Crosby, Stephen Stills and too many more to list here, he seems happiest and most productive when running the show. A sometime hit-maker — “Only You Know and I Know” and “We Just Disagree” — he tours sporadically, playing the Union College Memorial Chapel, the Palace Theatre and most recently Alive at Five and The Egg.
“Traffic Jam” isn’t just a return engagement. It promises a personal mixed-media meditation on the first band Mason formed and quit.
Show time for Dave Mason’s “Traffic Jam” is 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Tickets are $44.50 and $34.50. 473-1845 www.theegg.org.
Jerling at Caffe Lena
Claiming Michael Jerling as a local gem feels somehow selfish and parochial: the Saratoga troubadour is a national treasure, and not just ours.
On Saturday, he introduces his new album “Halfway Home,” his first in seven years, at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs), his favorite hometown showcase.
The album title is too modest: These 14 songs take us all the way home with big truths, simply stated, a relaxed but supple groove played by our local A-team expertly arrayed behind Jerling’s voice that goes down like old whiskey — warm, soft and strong.
Jerling sings on Saturday alongside wife/muse/keyboardist Teresina Huxtable, bassist deluxe Tony Markellis and singers Bob Warren and Joy MacKenzie. Show time is 8 p.m. when Lorne Clarke opens. Admission is $16, advance; $18 at the door. 583-0022 www.caffelena.org.
Can’t make it? Yes, you can: stream it on www.Concert.Window.com.
Elvis Birthday bash
Elvis Presley would have turned 79 next Wednesday, and his famous pompadour would probably be about the same gray as that of local rockabilly hero Mark Gamsjager.
But that’s not the only reason to go see Gamsjager lead his Lustre Kings in a birthday bash for the King on Saturday at Club Helsinki (405 Columbia St., Hudson).
Gamsjager and the boys go for the guts of real rockabilly, rather than the glib glory of obvious greatest-hits clichés. Like Jerling, these guys are a local product, exported everywhere, via albums — “That’s Show Biz” is their third — their own gigs or backing the greats.
Elvis contemporary Wanda Jackson has said: “I have worked with many bands around the world through the years, and none are better than Mark Gamsjager and the Lustre Kings.”
They kick off the Elvis Birthday Bash at 9 p.m. (doors at 8) on Saturday at Club Helsinki. Admission is $15. 828-4800 www.helsinkihudson.com.
Disposable Rocket Band
The Steamer No. 10 Theatre Eclectic Performance Series earns its title on Saturday when the Disposable Rocket Band presents “DRB 9000 Loves You,” a musical theater piece emanating from way over there. Sun Ra set the weirdness bar pretty high, but these guys make alt-space-rock about like Sun Ra made jazz. AwakeFM opens at 8 p.m., then VJ We Are Architects, then the Disposable Rocket Band. Admission is $13, advance; $15 at the door. 438-5503 www.steamer10theatre.org.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at email@example.com.