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On the Road with Dutch Mason starring John Connolly

John ConnollyThe “Prime Minister of the Blues” lived a life of late nights and smoky clubs, pursuing the blues. The Confederation Centre of the Arts’ On the Road with Dutch Mason tells the story of this artist through the eyes of his band’s fill-in musician, David Bedford.

“For all of the blues musicians in the Maritimes, the highlight of their musical career was to play Dutch Mason,” said Bedford.

Norman “Dutch” Mason was born in 1938 in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, but was raised in Kentville. The singer, pianist, and guitarist was turned to the blues by his idol B.B. King. He played in bars across Nova Scotia and later toured Canada. The blues musician was nominated for both East Coast Music Awards and a JUNO Award. He was inducted into the Canadian Jazz and Blues Hall of Fame, and in 2005, he became a Member of the Order of Canada.

His tough, urban blues style reflected the way he lived. But his life of touring smoke-filled clubs came at the cost of broken marriages, fractured friendships, and haunting demons. It’s into this tumultuous life that David Bedford, a political science professor and amateur harp player, was thrown into when he replaced the regular harmonica player while on tour.

“For anyone playing blues, you could say I’m playing with Dutch Mason. This is it. I’ve made it,” said Bedford. “You made it once you got into the car and toured with Dutch.”

The Confederation Centre’s original production is based on Bedford and Harvey Sawler’s book On the Road with Dutch Mason. Bedford has been working with the cast of the Confederation Centre’s musical team this past June; namely, with the actor who plays him, Cameron MacDuffee.

“To see someone playing me on stage, I never expected to experience that in my life and it takes a certain level of course it is me” said Bedford. “But in some sense it is Wade Lynch’s [the creator’s] character and also very importantly it is Cameron MacDuffee’s and Mary Francis’ [the Director’s] character too.”

This production ties Dutch Mason’s story together with music and storytelling. Take in the world premiere of the Confederation Centre’s musical starting on June 30 until September 22 at the Mack in Charlottetown this summer.

www.confederationcentre.com

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