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Carolyne Mas: Music

Mercury Records Press Release ("Carolyne Mas")

(Carolyne Mas)
"Whether it's her voice, her songs or her eyes that grab you first, the message is clear from the outset: Carolyne Mas is a street-elegant rock n' roller whose time has come.

The people who've seen her perform have gotten the message and it's jarred more than a few out of their 'whither rock?' cynicism. She's so in command on the stage, so determined, tough and vulnerable; so diminutive in appearance but gifted with a very big and distinctive voice. Carolyne Mas IS a star and that piece of information is about to explode on the American rock conciousness.

There is a bit of a mystery as to her origins but there is no doubt as to who Carolyne Mas is now. For while she 'lives the life she sings about in her songs,' her characters and situations are just oblique enough - and just universal enough - to suggest the past, chronicle the fleeting present, and hint at the future.

Everything is happening fast for Carolyne - which is what the fleeting present is all about - precisely because her readiness is so apparent. 'I hate waiting,' she says excitedly. 'When I was ready and knew what I wanted to do, I figured it didn't matter how fast it happened. I just didn't go through my phases in front of people. If I'm going to be getting my act together, I'd rather do it at home, inconspicuously.' To see her on stage today is to witness the emergence of a great rock and roll talent, and it is in that sense - and that sense only - that comparisons are valid.

But Carolyne is more than a great rock and roll singer. Her songs are about her life and the lives of those who people it. With them she creates characters - and, on stage, dramatic characterizations - to tell her stories. And like Carolyne herself, the songs, the characters are full of life, emotion, humor, pain, love and joy.

Carolyne's readiness allowed her to compress her 'present' into a matter of months. In fact, the speed with which she entered the spotlight to virtually unanimous public, press, industry, and - yes - radio acclaim in the Northeast was unprecedented. To have gone from being well-known amoung a small circle of friends on Bleecker Street to having your demo tape played on five major radio stations and selling out shows from New York City to Syracuse in three months was quite an achievement. Carolyne did just that through her music.

September, 1978: Carolyne meets Faris Bouhafa, her manager and former Artist Development executive at CBS; her producer, Steve Burgh, who had just completed the production of Steve Forbert's debut album; and, guitarist David Landau who had recently come off the road with Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon (Landau would later become her musical director, on-stage foil, and co-author of three of the songs on her debut album.) The next three months are spent in extensive rehearsal with occasional forays into low-visibility clubs outside of New York City. The objective is simple... to be ready for January when Carolyne will do her first serious showcase.

January 17-21, 1979: Carolyne opens for Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee at a New York club called The Other End. Glowing press reports start surfacing with concurrent record company interest.

February 20-12: Carolyne opens for The Persuasions... again at The Other End. The club fills early with industry types out on official scouting missions and others who want to see if they can believe what they heard the first time.

March 14-15: Carolyn headlines The Other End. By now word has spread, on the street and in the papers, so that the regular customers outnumber the invited guests. New York's WNEW-FM breaks format and airs Carolyne's demo tape. Vin Scelsa features her in a half-hour interview. Soon college radio stations throughout the area are also playing the tape. Mercury Records' new president, Bob Sherwood, flies in from Chicago - the deal initiated on that trip is signed, sealed and delivered in three weeks.

April, 1979: Carolyne tours the Northeast. The excitement is repeated in Boston, Asbury Park, Albany, New Haven, and, most notably, in Syracuse where 5,000 people demand several encores. WOUR-FM in Utica tapes the concert and broadcasts it a week later. The station receives more than 150 calls from listeners asking for more information about Carolyne.

May, 1979: Carolyne starts recording her first record.

Sprung from nowhere? Hardly, of course. But the 'past' is simple: born in Bronxville, New York, 1956. Vocie lessons (opera) at age 11. Jazz, rock, and folk bands in high school. On to the American Music and Dramatic Academy on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, then the Light Opera of Manhattan singing Gilbert and Sullivan. Accepted at Julliard but opts to perform at a folk festival in Pennsylvania in 1974 when classes were to begin. Resurfaces in New York City in the summer of '76, sporadically hitting the club circuit and developing her rock and roll persona.

There is one more matter - the eyes. Carolyne's are big and dark and round - wild and innocent. They, too, speak of command, determination, toughness, and vulnerability. They speak loudly and convey one simple, yet powerful, message: Carolyne Mas is most definitely a talent ready-made for the present."