Mason Ruffner’s musical roots begin in the late 1960’s when the Fort Worth, Texas native heard the supernatural guitar prowess of Jimi Hendrix and the lyrical genius of Bob Dylan. Mason’s lineage can be traced to modern rock back to its post-war origins, digging the sounds of Jimmy Reed, BB King and Robert Johnson. In his early career, Mason tried modern rock and folk music but the blues would not let go. Robert Ealey, noted blues singer from Fort Worth, invited Mason to the house band, The Five Careless Lovers, at Fort Worth’s now legendary Bluebird Lounge. What follows is Mason’s formative period as a guitarist and stage performer.
Mason left Fort Worth and contributed to the music scenes in California and New York before finding himself in New Orleans in the late 1970’s. New Orleans proves to be a rich environment for Mason. After a few years of playing in bands on Bourbon Street, Mason decided to find his own voice and started his own band, The Blues Rockers. The band had a steady performance calendar at Club 544 and played more than 200 live shows each year. The Blues Rockers became one of the most popular bands in the Crescent City and backed blues legends, Lightin’ Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, Memphis Slim and many more. In his audience, you could find Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana, and ZZ Top who dropped in to listen or sit in with Mason. Mason can be found in performances or recordings with Bob Dylan and Daniel Lanois and has toured with U2, Jimmy Page, Ringer Starr, Crosby, Stills and Nash. Carlos Santana has performed Mason’s composition “Angel Love” and included Mason as a guest guitarist at several of his concerts.
From an interview with Santana, he quotes, “Angel Love” is mainly a Santana song-even though it’s written by my great friend Mason Ruffner. He’s from New Orleans and I think he gives it that real New Orleans feel. It’s got the great jukebox feeling of real American roots rock. It’s a perfect jukebox single.”
Another famous artists, Bob Dylan writes from “Chronicles Vol. 1”, “Fort Worth guitarist and singer Mason Ruffner played in Bourbon Street clubs like the Old Absinthe Bar. He was a regional star, had a high pompadour, a gold tooth smile with a tiny guitar inlaid. He had a few records out and some explosive licks with funky edges, rockabilly tremolo-influenced, wrote songs, too, said that he’d hung around libraries reading Rimbaud and Baudelaire to get his language down. He also told me that as a teenager he had played with Memphis Slim. I thought I had something in common with him there. I’d played with Big Joe Williams when I was coming up. Mason had some fine songs. One of them had the line, “You do good things for people and it just makes them bad”. I would have thought about recording it if I didn’t have my own originals.”
Mason has released six recordings. Rolling Stone Magazine and major press around the world have praised his music. “Gypsy Blood” the title song from one of his recordings was a top 10 album radio hit in the summer of 1987 and was featured in the hit film, “Steel Magnolias”. Ruffner has earned the respect of many of the world’s best musicians and serious fans. Mason continues in his dedication to delivering his provocative lyrics with great music and is second to none at guitar instrumentals.