Brian: Jason Masi is a DC based singer-songwriter. He got his start in with the Richmond, Virginia based group Jubeus. He stepped out as a solo artist in 2010, trading in the band's root jam driven rock for a more acoustic soul, R&B, songwriter approach. He has since released three solo albums, Balance and Pull in 2010, Life is Wonderful in 2012, and Power of a Woman in 2014. If you've been listening to the show, we've had Power of a Woman on here and if you check his profile on line on Dcmusicrocks.com you can see the music video for that track. It's awesome. His transition has kept him busy on the road performing for two hundred and fifty shows a year, which his schedule is also on the site and man, there's so many awesome shows. He's a very busy man but I love it. I love it.
The influences in Masi’s sound can be drawn between solo artists like Marvin Gay and Bill Withers, folk and blues icons like Van Morrison and James Taylor, as well as modern songwriters in the vein of Matt Keirney, Damien Rice, and James Morrison. His songs are often reflective and thought provoking, yet maintain our free spirited and lighthearted tone. His approach and he approaches his music in much the same way he does life, which is laid back and easy going personality which translates into the lyric and tone of his music, yet his performances are energetic and portray him as a hardworking musician that he is. With that, guys I was first introduced by a coworker to Jason's music, and ever since then I've been a fan. It is truly a privilege and an honor and I'm just excited to actually have him sitting with me in the studio. With that I'm excited to introduce to you Jason Massey. Say hi.
Jason: Hi. Brian thanks so much for having me. It's a real honor to be here. Thank you.
Brian: Thank you for being here.
Jason: You have such a wonderful speaking voice on the radio. You just told my whole story man. I don't even have to say anything else.
Brian: Oh you're making me blush. You're making me blush. Tell us about Love’s Lips. I'm sorry about the mispronunciation there.
Jason: tough word. Lots of syllables.
Brian: Love, man. Everybody gets nervous about that word love.
Jason: That's true.
Brian: Tell us about that track.
Jason: I was writing a lot of bittersweet songs at the time. I spent a lot of time at the wineries as you may know from looking at my show schedule.
Jason: I was observing couples especially during the day that were enjoying a glass of wine together. They were just having a good time. They were casting their worries aside. I started with a line, loves lips like wine. That observation. Then I built this song about of it. It turns out it's just a simple love song about being present with the woman you're with and enjoying the moment. Sometimes that's actually really difficult especially living in this DC area with so many distractions of politics. A lot of people use that get away out to the wine circuit to kind of get away from the whole DC hustle and bustle.
Brian: It seems like it.
Jason: I was very lucky to get out that way and be able to perform for people and make that my niche.
Brian: I was going to say, say more about that niche because you mentioned that your schedule that indicates that a lot, but for folks that haven't seen the schedule, how does it work with you're a full time professional musician?
Jason: I'm a full time, professional musician. Believe it or not, sometimes I pinch myself. I actually convince myself that it's true. The wine circuit is something I kind of fell into. I was playing with the band Jubious for a long time. I had a day job for much of my twenties. The band came out with a couple records but the band was kind of fizzling because we had some personnel issues.
Brian: Got it.
Jason: Okay. Then I moved to this area and had my one connection which was Amber Trees Foster and she helped me get some gigs around this area and then I met a couple winery owners and they let me out to play. That's where it kind of spiraled out of control. I didn't realize there was such a growing scene out there, not just for wineries but also the music at the wineries. That's kind of the start of it and now I spend a lot of time out there.
Brian: When you say a lot of time, what does that actually translate into?
Jason: Probably more than I should. There's generally free wine at the shows.
Brian: Oh that's a plus.
Jason: As a form of payment. My wife always says, stop bringing bottles of wine home. Bring us more money.
Brian: I could see that being a thing okay.
Jason: I spend a lot of time out there. I'd say out of the two hundred fifty plus, I play maybe sixty percent at wineries and then I do a lot of private events too for people. I meet a lot of those people through the wineries. I do clubs. Clubs are less and less these days.
Jason: It's more about a niche man.
Brian: Well you found this new little niche man.
Jason: I don't know.
Brian: Four or five days a week? How often?
Jason: I play shows. Yeah it can be that. I'd say the busy season is March through October.
Jason: I don't think I should even admit this but sometimes I'll play eight shows in a week. I'll get a double Saturday. I'll do like a Saturday at a winery and then I'll do a private party in the evening. I'll host a mic every Monday night. I'll play sometimes, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. The cool thing about being a full time musician and playing around this area in DC Metro is I can come home, spend time with my wife and actually sometimes get home early enough to even watch a Netflix show with her or something, and have some dinner.
Brian: That's cool. Yeah. I guess wineries aren't a late night club kind of thing either. They got to have a benefit too.
Jason: Their bedtimes are like nine pm so, they want to get out of there.
Brian: Depending on how much wine they drank.
Jason: Yes, that's right.
Brian: Oh man. When you're not being a musician, tell us more about you. What do you do?
Jason: Sure. I'm actually kind of an introvert when it comes to not being on all the time. I have to spend a lot of time with people, so when I'm on my own, I like to just cocoon and have some time to myself. I started yoga. I like to read books and just relax and have my own time, quiet time. Sometimes my wife is wanting to talk to me a lot and I'll start to daze off. It's not because I don't want to listen to her, it's just I need that time.
Brian: Is it like recovering or recuperating?
Brian: You put it all out there when you're performing and so time to.
Jason: To reboot.
Brian: Okay I got it. I totally understand it. It's kind of wild to hear that too because you do spend so much time out there performing and stuff I guess you might automatically assume people are extroverts when actually maybe that might be kind of taxing and you come back, when you come home the recharge is not.
Jason: Not to take any [inaudible 00:06:57], I love meeting everyone at my shows. I love talking to everybody and I love performing but the reboot process is something that, especially lately, since my schedule has been so busy, started to take seriously. My wife has started to take my cell phone away from me.
Brian: You've got quiet hours.
Jason: Quiet hours.
Brian: What's one thing about the DC music scene that you love?
Jason: There's so many things actually. When I moved here I had no idea what it was all about but one of the cool connections I've had is Justin Trawick. I knew him in college. We went to Lawland together.
Brian: Oh wow.
Jason: He has been a help in a sense of connecting a lot of musicians together. I did the non-songwriter series. I started that with him. I started playing that with him when he first got it off the ground.
Jason: 2009 and now I've met so many DC and touring artists from that and just the well of talent that I find in DC, constantly amazes me. Every time I do a show with somebody else, or do a songwriter showcase with somebody else, other musicians. I'm just kind of overwhelming. It a little humbling too. Dang, I need to go home and practice. These guys are good. I thought I was pretty good, but man.
Brian: For folks who don't know what the songwriter series you were just talking about, say more.
Jason: Justin Trawick puts on this songwriters series. It's kind of like a stories in the round but you have more singer songwriters so each artist will get two songs upfront and they can talk a little bit about each song. Then they do another round of one song. Then, lately he's been allowing the artists to collaborate with each other. You have somebody that plays saxophone, or somebody that plays banjo, or does backing vocals they can jump in with each other and it's all on the spot too.
Brian: This is a live show.
Jason: It's a live show. Yeah.
Brian: Wow that's cool.
Jason: He also does a podcast. The circus life. Its a really cool thing and getting some [inaudible 00:09:03] on it as well.
Brian: Yeah definitely. We know Justin. We're fans of Justin on DC Music Rocks, that's for sure.
Brian: Play good stuff too. He's wonderful. So Justin shout out. Thanks for doing what you do and supporting the scene like we do here. Truly appreciate you man. Tell us the story about your best show. What comes to mind?
Jason: I don't have any ah-ha moments where after the show I was just like, man that was it. That was my best show. That never happened to me.
Jason: I play a lot of shows and you get this euphoria sometimes after it and it's awesome because music is therapeutic but I will say I was playing for the Walter Reid Society this whole last year from February up until a month ago. I'm on a break right now. The reason I do it is because sometimes you play music for people that actually need the music more than you do. That was definitely the case at Walter Reid. I would say the last time I played a show, just because this is a recent memory, I had somebody come up to me. It was an older woman. She said, "I'm going through chemo treatments right now. Just being able to sit here and listen to your music in the lobby, really made my day." I don't really need much, but I mean when somebody says that to you, you're like okay. I'm doing something that I should be doing. That to me is the ultimate reward.
Brian: For the listeners that don't. You're playing music at Walter Reid?
Jason: Yeah Walter Reid.
Brian: You just show up and play? How does that work?
Jason: It's the Walter Reid society. He's been actually bringing musicians in for the last couple years. I just started this last year. You go and they have this carpeted area in the lobby. You get a lot of foot traffic there but it's people that are being treated that were in the military and their families. You're performing for a couple hours and they have performers throughout the week. People waiting for their appointments or what have you and they get to sit down on a couches there while they're waiting in the lobby and just listen.
Brian: It's you and your guitar for those?
Jason: Just me and my guitar.
Brian: Wow. That's awesome.
Jason: A lot of times people come up and sing songs with me and sometimes that's good. Sometimes it's bad. It's always good to have a true professional and I see that Sarah Murphy, she came up and sang Hallelujah with me at a friend's birthday party. That was a very special moment.
Brian: That is awesome. Very cool Jason. What about, so tell us a story about a time that you tried and failed.
Jason: Okay. Well, I try and fail just about every day.
Brian: Just one.
Jason: Let me count the times. One I can laugh about, I guess this is kind of a funny story. A few years ago, when I was playing with Jubious, we continue to play up until, we haven't played in like a year together, but we kind of do little get together and so. We played Sine. We were kind of like the house band at that place for a while in Richmond.
Jason: We had a packed house and one of the things that I always have to figure out the balance of is like how much I get into the music that I'm pulling because I'm not a good dancer.
Jason: I wish I were. I put the guitar down and sometimes do this, and we were doing a cove of the song Brickhouse.
Brian: Oh nice okay.
Jason: You know the song?
Brian: I know the song.
Jason: Okay. Shake it down, shake it down, shake it down now section. I was like getting my audience to like shake it down, get lower to the ground.
Jason: On the way down something ripped in my inner thigh and it was like this excruciating pain. I fell to the ground. In the middle of the song.
Jason: That was embarrassing. You can fit three hundred people in there. It was capacity so.
Jason: It was in front of everybody and I got back up, and I continued the song. I took a break. That was just one of those moments, I think it was just had the right amount of humility and just a reminder of not to do things that are beyond my capabilities. I'm not Chris Brown man.
Brian: You can't get low?
Jason: In my defense I wasn't doing many stretches at the time I was running a lot and not to carry my body around. Maybe if I tried again.
Brian: That yoga man. If you had been doing yoga back then.
Jason: If I had been, yeah. I probably would have bounced right back up.
Brian: That's wild. What a story. Good gracious.
Jason: Take care of yourself. Lesson learned.
Jason: Know your limitations.
Brian: Don't get down unless you can in fact get down.
Jason: Get down.
Brian: What about, what's in your music collection that might surprise us?
Jason: Let's see. I'm not sure if it'll surprise you. It surprised me how much I listen to this artist on Pandora radio, but [inaudible 00:13:55]. Pandora send you reports of how much you listen to stuff. It was like eighty percent [inaudible 00:14:01] radio on the Pandora station.
Brian: Really that's impressive. Which is soothing and you talked about your bringing it down.
Jason: Soothing, sensual.
Jason: Maybe that reveals too much about me right there but that's the kind of mood that I'm in.
Brian: All right. I see. Note to self guys, bring [inaudible 00:14:21] with you if you want to get Jason in the mood. Got it. Okay. What about do you have any rules as a performer? Are there any rules that you have and are there any that you always break?
Jason: I do have rules. I try to make the rule not to play certain cliché songs.
Brian: Like what?
Jason: Like Wagon Wheel, Brown Eyed Girl. I feel bad saying that because I have actually some things that really, really like those songs. I try to avoid it but I am so eager to please people. This is the truth man. Put a smile on somebody's face by playing a song. I'm sure you know this as a band member.
Jason: You see the way people ...
Brian: The joy they get from the music.
Jason: The joy they get from these songs that maybe you've heard a gazillion times, maybe a gazillion times too many. They just eat it up. I'm just going to go and say it. I break that rule sometimes.
Brian: Break that rule. Okay so Brown Eyed Girl might happen and inside as an artist you die a little bit.
Jason: It's the same on the radio.
Brian: We appreciate you sharing. Okay. Come up with a more creative request next time you see Jason, other than Brown Eyed Girl.
Jason: No it's okay. It's alright.
Brian: If you love that one, ask him for it anyway. The last question I love to ask is what's one piece of advice that you would offer?
Jason: I would say it's easy to go through the motions sometimes, especially if you have a lot of shows, like I have a lot of shows. I think always bring one hundred and ten percent and always try to bring a good vibe to your performances.
Brian: To say more, how do you bring a good vibe? What does that mean?
Jason: It does seem like a simple thing but say you're in a bad mood. You show up at the venue and you kind of go through the motions of your show. I've seen people do this. It's a human nature, you can do this. It's really contagious to your audience and then your audience to your venue. Sometimes I think just kind of escaping into the music is maybe the answer to that. Allow yourself to kind of get lost in it.
Brian: One hundred and ten percent.
Jason: Bring it, show up every time if you can. I'm guilty of not doing it every single time too. I try.
Brian: You notice I. If you learn to recognize it, you can also fix it half way through too. You could realize, oh god I'm not doing it. I got to bring it. After that break, you can come back and bring some more.
Jason: Bring it.
Brian: That's awesome. Now, folks want to find out more about you. Where's the best place for them to find you?
Jason: Say visit the website, if you can. Www.jasonmasi.com. Last name spelled M-A-S-I. That's kind of the hub where you can get the links to everything else, the Facebook, the Twitter, the Instagram. That's where I would say to start if you're just a Facebook person, and you want to skip the website, I try to stay up to date with my friend page. You can friend me.
Jason: I put my regular shows, weekly on there where I'll be. Then I do my special events, I'll put it on my fan page. I'll invite people from the fan page.