Willy rolls in

Willy Mason
Willy Mason is back in town. Photo by Ralph Stewart

By Julian Wise - April 19, 2006

When Willy Mason's van broke down out west last year in the middle of a national tour, he was forced to abandon it and continue on. This year, when it was time to retrieve the repaired vehicle, he came upon a novel solution to make his way out west to get it. He put out a message on his MySpace page telling fans of his plight and asking them to put him up for the night in exchange for an intimate in-home performance as he hop-scotched across the country. The tactic was so successful that he repeated it in England a month later to develop his European fan base.

The kid is on a roll; last year he landed the coveted spot opening for Radiohead, introducing his music to thousands of new fans. Willy and his band are currently winding down a U.S. tour in support of their new album, "If the Ocean Gets Rough," which was released on March 20 on Astralwerks Records (home of Fatboy Slim, Basement Jaxx, and the Chemical Brothers). The touring band includes Vineyard locals Sam Mason (Willy's younger brother), Nina Violet, and Mike Mackey. The band made a stop at the giant South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, where they were joined onstage by legendary Who guitarist Pete Townshend (the performance is posted on Pete Townshend's official web site).

This Friday, during a stopover on his home turf, Willy will play Aboveground Records in Edgartown.

After a short hiatus the band will strike out for a tour of Europe, with an opening show on May 4 in Leicester and a closing show on June 4 in Rotterdam. Eleven of the tour dates are already sold out. The Vineyard performance will be an opportunity to touch base with the local artist amid the whirl of his international touring schedule.u

Willy Mason performs Friday, April 20, 7 pm, at Aboveground Records, Triangle, Edgartown. The all ages show is free.