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Matt Mason, CMT's Next Superstar,' to play Bangor

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Matt Mason, winner of the first season of 'CMT's Next Superstar' in 2011, will visit Maine for the first time on Friday, June 29 when he brings his band to My Fork Restaurant and Sports Lounge on the Odlin Road in Bangor with special guest Chris Ross.

Country music fans were introduced to Mason in 2006, when he was selected from among 20,000 hopefuls to be one of 10 contestants on USA Network's 'Nashville Star.' Judges and fans alike were taken with the young country music traditionalist who was weaned on the music of legends Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings during his formative years in Indiana.

On 'Nashville Star,' Mason placed fourth overall and assumed the show would provide the rocket fuel to get his career off the launch pad. After a move to Nashville, he learned that the music business can be an unpredictable beast, and even a weekly appearance on a popular national broadcast was no guarantee of success.

Mason went back to work writing songs and playing as many shows as possible around the country, but especially in Music City, where he was determined to keep chipping away to get him over the next hurdle. He credits his wife and two children with keeping him focused.

Last year, Mason was encouraged to try out for the debut season of CMT's 'Next Superstar,' where he was again selected from among thousands of hopefuls vying for a major label record deal. On the show, Mason and other contestants lived together in a sort of country music version of 'Big Brother.' They were judged on songwriting, radio interviews and overall ability to 'wow' the celebrity judges. This time, Mason went all the way and became CMT's first 'Next Superstar.'

I spoke with Mason last Friday as he and his band were rolling across Wisconsin in their tour bus.

Dow: It was just over one year ago that you won 'CMT's Next Superstar.' Take me back to that moment when it was revealed that you won what did that feel like?

Mason: It felt like all of the hard work I've put into this for the past few years finally paid off. It kind of felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, but then I realized that the work had really only just begun. There was a time when I thought, 'OK, you get a record deal, you have a single out and then you start playing arenas.' It actually doesn't work that way at all (laughing).

Dow: Your fans love that fact that you keep it real. Your songs, your demeanor everything is very down to earth, which reminds me of legendary country traditionalists like Waylon and Merle.

Mason: Growing up, I was always drawn to the music of the guys whose personality said, 'This is who I am. If you like it that's great and if you don't, that's fine too.' Not everybody's going to like me, but I appreciate the ones who do. I can't pretend or fake anything it's just not in me to do it.

Dow: When you were 11 years old, your dad took you to see Merle Haggard at the Ryman Auditorium. Do you remember what that was like?

Mason: That was incredible it really was. He's a legend. I've always loved his music and what he stood for. I've always been drawn to the music of Merle and Johnny Cash and some of the rock guys like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty you know where they stand on things. They don't put on a front for anybody and they don't let anything get in the way of the music. Too many people make that mistake. That's not why we get into this, you know? Creating good music should be first and foremost.

Dow: How old are your kids and do they know what Dad does for a living?

Mason: We have a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old boy. They do know what Dad does for a living, and that's both a good thing and a bad thing. My daughter is already talking about pursuing music for a living and I'm already trying to talk her out of it (laughing).

Dow: When you play in Bangor on June 29, you'll have a great opening artist. His name is Chris Ross and he has quite a following around here. I hope you'll have a chance to hear his set before you start.

Mason: I'll look Chris up absolutely. It's great to have guys who are big in the area to bring in some of their fans. At a lot of our shows, we're still the opening act and we look at it is a situation where we're all in this to entertain people. Obviously, you want to do as well as you can and it's not a competition, but if someone goes out and does better than you, you pat him on the back.

Matt Mason with guest Chris Ross Friday, June 29 at My Fork Restaurant & Sports Lounge 268 Odlin Road in Bangor. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 day of show.

Mike Dow is part of The Mike and Mike Show airing each morning on Kiss 94.5. Check him out at www.Facebook.com/MikeandMike and www.MikeDow.net.

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 15:56

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