Hard-working Ellsworth songwriter Trisha Mason readies debut album

When Trisha Mason moved to Maine four years ago, she assumed she’d be putting her musical aspirations on hold, as her husband, Marc, took up his post at the Coast Guard station in Southwest Harbor, and the couple raised their young children, Andrew and Victoria. Boy, was she wrong.

Mason, now the front woman for her own Trisha Mason Band, as well as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist for Ellsworth party rockers The Larks, has hardly missed a weekend playing over the past two years. With her bright, distinctive soprano and versatility playing both guitars and keyboards, Mason has quickly established herself as one of the hardest working women in eastern Maine show business. She’ll perform this Thursday, Aug. 30 at Sips Cafe in Southwest Harbor, and on Friday, Aug. 31 at the Big Easy Lounge at the Charles Inn in Bangor.

“Both my grandfathers were very musical, and when I was about 14 I picked up a guitar that was laying around. I learned where to put my fingers, and that was that,” said Mason, 29, a native of Dartmouth, Massachusetts. “As soon as that happened, I got a couple of heartbreaks, like you do when you’re a teenager. That was when the songwriting started.”

Mason counts artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, the Beach Boys, Green Day and Pink as influences. If she likes it, she likes it. There’s no pretense with Mason, who clearly plays from her gut – direct and honest, with a lot of musical talent. It’s not about looking cool – even though, with her curly dark hair and infectious smile, she’s a striking performer, with an energetic stage presence. For Mason, it’s clearly about the love of playing, and about having fun on stage.

“I love it when people dance,” she said. “That’s the best thing.”

A few months after moving to Maine, Mason began hanging out at the open mic nights at Chummies Bar in Ellsworth. She met the members of the Newport-based band Mad Castle, and she met drummer Steve Peer, the one-man music scene responsible for the 430 Bayside house concert series in Ellsworth. By the summer of 2010, Mason was in the Larks, with Peer, Kyle Duckworth and Arend Trent, tearing up dance floors and local bars with covers of everything from Lady Gaga to ZZ Top.

“If it hadn’t been for all those guys, I might not have worked up the nerve to do it,” said Mason. “But I’m so glad they did. I can’t say music pays all the bills, but it’s a pretty good way to make part of a living. We like taking songs and tweaking them to make them fun and different for both us and for the audience.”

She was also busy working on her own songs, and last year formed a band with Doug Empie, Jack Kaspala and Brian White – the Trisha Mason Band, who with every show add a different name. Trisha Mason and the Captured Cabin Boys, for their KahBang Festival performance. Trisha Mason and the Bar Room Brawlers, at Finn’s Irish Pub in Ellsworth. The Lobstah Trap Trio at Side Street Cafe in Bar Harbor. The Whiskey Warlocks, at Ipanema in Bangor. You get the idea.

Right now, Mason is readying the release of her debut album, “Worse Or Better,” which is slated to come out in late September. She recorded it at the New England School of Communications in Bangor with her regular band, as well as some of her favorite musician friends, including Peer, sax player Cody Miller, and Canadian fiddler Colin Grant.

“I’m really excited about it,” said Mason. “I can’t wait for people to really hear my songs.”

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine.