Carolyne Mas: Biography
OCTOBER 20, 1955, 9:58 AM, Lawrence Hospital, Bronxville, NY: Carolyne (Carol Patricia) Mas is born to Livia (Alvarez Frank, of Spanish, Italian, and Ashkenazi Jewish descent) Mas and Joseph Augusto Mas (of Catalan descent). Her mother, a former radio singer/guitarist and math teacher, who studied at the Eastern School for Physicians Aides in New York City, and her father, a pianist/baritone with The New York City Opera, and scientist who, most notably, invented the first battery charger. In fact, the first plug-in battery charger, which was called "Plug 'n' Play" and was very much like the transformers used today, was advertised on WABC in NY using the slogan "Plug 'n' Play with Murray the K," who was a well-known DJ at the time.
Raised on Long Island, NY with her older brother Raymond, Carolyne is trained in classical piano, voice, and guitar, but is exposed to a wide variety of music, from Cole Porter to Puccini, and from Dylan to The Beatles. Her first paid performance is at a school dance at 13.
She is very influenced by her father's sister Ana, a classically trained pianist, who for many reasons would have a great impact on her life, especially later on.
Active in the theater in high school, Carolyne is also drawn to political music, performing at benefits and anti-war rallies, and sings for the handicapped and infirmed in hospitals. At 15, her heath teacher introduces her to some investors who want to back her as "the next Janis Ian," but she declines, and hooks them up instead with her boyfriend's band.
She attends The American Musical and Dramatic Academy at 16, and is the youngest member of The Light Opera of Manhattan at 17, performing Gilbert and Sullivan 6 nights a week.
She performs with an independent theater group in NYC called "Dial and Environment," and appears on cable TV, then in it's early stages.
A few weeks before she is to attend the prestigious Juilliard School of Music as a voice major in the fall of '74, a friend invites her to perform at a music festival in Pennsylvania. She later tells the N.Y. DAILY NEWS: "I had so much fun down there, I just came back, packed my stuff and left." Her father drives her and her cat Bobby, to Hazleton, PA., and her mother just nods her head in disbelief.
In Pennsylvania, Carolyne plays for whatever audience she can find--from coal miners to college students; for The United Farm Workers, or piano bar in a fancy restaurant. She lives and co-writes with gifted poet and Hazelton native Marcus Colasurdo.
In the summer of 1975, Carolyne moves to Los Angeles briefly and ends up as a frequent "special guest" at THE TROUBADOUR, introduced by new admirer and session guitarist Joel Tepp, then leader of the Midnight Band at the famous Sunset Strip club. "That was a blast," she tells the DAILY NEWS. "They'd have Joe Cocker's drummer, or Donovan's bass player. I learned a lot out there."
Returning to the East coast, she performs solo at political benefits, with a blues band, in piano bars, even teaches guitar at a summer school, until a call comes to her one night from Mike Porco, the owner of Greenwich Village's legendary FOLK CITY, who wants to book her after hearing her perform on "Hoot Night."
OCTOBER 1976: Carolyne moves to Greenwich Village after performing at FOLK CITY, and from 1977 through 1978, becomes a regular on the scene, playing at other local clubs like KENNY'S CASTAWAYS (which opens on Bleecker Street in 1977) and CBGBs, performing out of town gigs here and there.
SUMMER 1977: She plays piano bar on weekends at a joint called THE LIQUOR ROOM for $10 a night, and even opens for Toby Beau ("Angel Baby") performing solo. In late 1977 she starts a songwriter's workshop at THE CORNELIA STREET CAFE.
MAY 1978: After her manager Tommy Flanders (The Blues Project) arranges an accoustic audition for Infinity Records, headed by Ron Alexenberg, Carolyne records a demo produced by Jerry Ragavoy (writer of classic rock songs "Piece of My Heart" and "Time is on My Side") at their expense. It includes Carolyne's original songs "SNOW" and "THE SHUT UP SONG," and Steve Forbert's "YOU CANNOT WIN IF YOU DO NOT PLAY."
Playing on the demo with Carolyne is her not-yet-boyfriend and soon-to-be-husband ('79-'80) Bernie Shanahan on piano, and Jon Paris on guitar and harmonica.
When Infinity hears the demo and sees her perform live, they are horrified. They staunchly believe that "a woman singing Rock 'n' Roll will never sell." Carolyne is offered a deal with Infinity Records only if she records an album of ballads, which she declines.
Right before the Fall of 1978: Carolyne meets manager Faris Bouhafa, and begins working with producer Steve Burgh (who had produced Steve Forbert's debut album as well). Together they assemble a band of professionals (who have worked with artists like Van Morrison, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan) in preparation for important showcase dates at Greenwich Village clubs, particularly THE OTHER END.
OCTOBER 1978: Strangely enough, one of Carolyne's first reviews (by Pat Wadsley in WEEKLY SOHO NEWS) makes this comparison: "If Janis Ian had been kidnapped and locked in a basement for three months, she'd emerge looking like Carolyne Mas. The wide-eyed, mighty-voiced Ms. Mas is part of the current music revitalization taking place on Bleeker St. and centered in KENNY'S CASTAWAYS."
JANUARY 17-21, 1979: Carolyne opens shows at THE OTHER END for bluesmen Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry. Ira Mayer of THE NEW YORK POST writes: "Opener Carolyne Mas is a gutsy, punkish singer with a Modigliani face and eyes that speak as loudly as her voice. There's a touch of Lou Reed in her manner and a great sense of dynamic control to her performance."
FEBRUARY 3: THE N.Y. DAILY NEWS does a story on Carolyne, "Going from Bach to rock." She is quoted saying: "I was a closet rock freak. My parents wanted me to be an opera singer and my entire musical background was classical. But I loved rock."
FEBRUARY 20-21: Carolyne opens for The Persuasions at THE OTHER END. THE VILLAGE VOICE listing reads: "Opening is Carolyne Mas, described by a reliable source as a female Southside Johnny." The next day, in THE NEW YORK TIMES, their music critic Robert Palmer writes that Carolyne "seems made to order for a successful rock career. She is a compelling and versatile singer. She writes clever, personal songs that use basic rock-and-roll elements in fresh ways... The idiom of her songs is close to Bruce Springsteen's, but they are a woman's songs, and at their best they convey a particular feminine sensibility with a tough, resilient wit and charm. Her singing is powerful without being overbearing and she knows how to drive a band on rhythm guitar."
MARCH 14-15: Carolyne headlines at THE OTHER END. CASHBOX writes: "Mas, in fact may be one of the most promising female rock vocalists to come out of New York City in a long, long time. Her exceptional singing range and compelling stage presence are utilized to maximum advantage and her superb band includes David Landau on guitar and Robbie Kondor on keyboards." RECORD WORLD: "Mas is everything the critics say she is, and possibly a little bit more. Unfortunately she has been labeled by one as 'the female Bruce Springsteen'... Here's hoping she is not unduly burdened by being compared to a great, fully matured artist. Mas has greatness in her too, but she needs room and time to develop at her own pace."
MARCH 16: THE NEW YORK POST features Carolyne as "A new sound in the clubs," saying "She is operatically trained--but plays a mean electric guitar." New York radio station WNEW-FM plays Carolyne's demo tape before her album is even out--something they had not done with any artist in 5 years. Carolyne does a live interview at 2 AM with D.J. Vin Scelsa. College radio stations start to play the demo tape too.
By May, Carolyne is in the studio recording "Carolyne Mas" for Mercury records, her new label, even before the contract is signed. She marries singer/songwriter Bernie Shanahan the day after the album is completed, on July 7th.
JULY 1979: Carolyne's self-titled debut album is released on Mercury Records. The sound is polished and the cover shows her in classy tophat, jacket and a bath robe belt as a tie--and Carolyne later tells the RALEIGH, NC NEWS AND OBSERVER: "That picture was taken in my bathroom and I was wearing unbelievably ripped-up pants. That all got cropped out."
There are full-page ads in BILLBOARD ("She gives street-smart rock 'n' roll and new elegance.") And ROLLING STONE ("She's street elegant.") Much of the album's press coverage includes other women with new albums, often with terribly sexist headlines like THE VILLAGE VOICE: "They're Cute, but Can They Sing?"
ROLLING STONE, who extends the Springsteen comparison to Ellens Foley and Shipley: "Boss ladies? Three women who don't Bruce easily." Even MUSICIAN: "Rockettes," though Carolyne is singled out with high praise from their Vic Garbarini: "Mas is the most talented and compelling American singer-songwriter to emerge since Bruce Springsteen, and this is her 'Born To Run.' She pumps more heart and soul into her superbly crafted three-minute pop anthems than anybody I've heard in years."
And though TIME's headline is: "Chick Singers Need Not Apply," at least their Jay Cocks makes a refreshing new male comparison: "Mas' songs vary from reveries to roughhouse declamations without missing a beat, and if she keeps up this pace she may be dogging Randy Newman's tracks in a few years."
HIGH FIDELITY gives Carolyne's album a full page to itself, their Steven Rea praising her "Sheer Moxie" and comparing her ballads to Patti Smith, Barbra Streisand, and Carly Simon; then ending with: "The world needs more rock & rollers like her."
SEPTEMBER 1979: Carolyne's first single, "STILLSANE," makes BILLBOARD's Hot 100, but fatal mistakes in promotion by Mercury Records alienate radio stations, and a live performance for WPLJ, causes key station and competitor WNEW who broke Carolyne's demo tape, to drop her from their playlist, creating a ripple that would erase her music suddenly and permanently from the charts at a crucial time. Her career would never recover from this.
In March of 1980, Ed Harrison of Billboard Magazine praises her live show, and questions why Mas is so unknown, which fuels problems with an already troubled Mercury Records; "Mas is the rock world's best kept secret. Onstage, she is as explosive as a 20 megaton bomb, with a voice that can send shivers running through your body."
Carolyne performs all over the U.S., Europe, and Canada (where "STILLSANE" had reachedr #9 and "QUOTE GOODBYE QUOTE" #16 on the Canadian Polydor label) mostly as a headliner. She opens shows in 1979 and 1980 for Southside Johnny, Cheap Trick, Rick Derringer, Robert Palmer, The Boomtown Rats, Sammy Hagar, Steve Forbert, and others. Some of Carolyne's opening acts include Bon Jovi, Billy Burnette, comedienne Elayne Boosler, and Jerry Seinfeld.
Tony Bennett (whose sons opened for Carolyne) and Bruce Springsteen are both in her audience one night at THE FAST LANE in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Mr. Bennett does a caricature drawing of Carolyne.
Carolyne hears through a friend (Robin Zander of Cheap Trick) that Barbra Streisand, collecting songs for her "Wet" album, heard "SNOW" and called her "a great singer."
Carolyne makes the first-round draft of GRAMMY nominations in several categories that year, but misses the final cut.
JULY 1980: The second Mercury album, "HOLD ON," is released, again produced by Burgh--this time with a harder rock sound, and live cover photos to match. Landau was scheduled to go on the road with Warren Zevon, and since Carolyne and her band have been performing the new songs on tour, they are able to record the album live in the studio in three weeks with only organ, lead guitar, and additional horns overdubbed. She does this, she explains. "to stop the press from thinking that I am created in the studio by men," in reaction to a review of her first LP, "Carolyne Mas."
Doing a live -in-the-studio album removes all doubt; Terri A. Huggins writes in CREEM: "Mas zips through 'HOLD ON' like the Tasmanian Devil--the listener is left dusty and battered and wondering what the hell just happened." Pamela Brandt in MS. writes that Carolyne differs from Springsteen in that they both write "heart-felt fifties-style rock 'n' roll mini-dramas," but that in Carolyne's case it is "with a new tough woman's awareness."
US magazine again describes the new group of women in rock whose talents, they say, equal their male counterparts--but they then go on to describe Carolyne's image more than her sound: "A scruffy-looking 25-year-old with a gravelly voice, Mas bounds about the stage like no wimpy little sex goddess we've ever seen." Adding prophetically: "Mas may never gain mainstream acceptance because she doesn't fit into any feminine molds."
The single released from "HOLD ON" is "HE'S SO COOL," but the record label is going through administration changes, moving from Chicago to New York, and after the promotion flubb done on the first album, little or no money is spent this time. As guitarist Landau put it. "That album never got out of the box."
Carolyne performs throughout the country non-stop, travelling in an RV, and breaks a record in the south for the ammount of colleges who request her appearance at a conference in Washington D.C., but Just like in Graham Parker's "Mercury Poisoning," her album is nowhere to be found in the stores in each city where she plays to sold out crowds.
NOVEMBER 1980: Exhausted and now broke, Carolyne returns to her apartment in NYC. Between the shambles of her label, Mercury Records, who changes staff faster than a hooker changes Johns, and Chappell music who rejects her new material and drops her contract after xeroxing her notebook, Carolyne's life is like a sinking ship. Her husband, Bernie Shanahan, packs his things, and the once promising marriage now whittled down by the constant chaos and uncertain future, is over on Thanksgiving morning.
JANUARY 1981: A live KING BISCUIT FLOWER HOUR radio show recorded and broadcast on August 3, 1980 is purchased by Phonogram Records in Germany to be released as an album for the exclusive purpose of promoting an upcoming 2-hour live television concert, "Rock Palast," on January 20, 1981, and a concert with The Boomtown Rats two days later.
Called "MAS HYSTERIA," the record cover is designed to look like a bootleg, and though it was originally meant strictly for promotional use, due to popular demand this 6-song "limited edition" is released and reprinted in Germany year after year. The 12:51 version of "SITTIN' IN THE DARK" becomes especially popular in clubs and on radio (and still gets much airplay there today). "MAS HYSTERIA" eventually sells over 250,000 copies, ironically making it Carolyne's biggest-selling record anywhere. Because it is sold at a "nice price," she is ineligible for the accolades that a Gold Record would normally bring. She will also never see a penny from this record, her biggest success.
MAY 1981: While Carolyne is in the studio recording her third and last album for Mercury, Phoebe Snow releases the album "Rock Away," with Carolyne's song "BABY PLEASE" (from her debut album) as the second track. US magazine mentions: "This album includes songs by Rod Stewart, Carolyne Mas, Bob Dylan and Snow herself." It is reported that Ms. Snow often performs "SNOW" (also from Carolyne's debut album) in concert. "Baby Please" is chosen as her single, but unfortunately for both Mas and Snow, the album goes nowhere.
AUGUST 1981: Carolyne's third studio album, "MODERN DREAMS," is released on Mercury. Pete Townshend, a huge fan, wants to produce this time, but is busy with his own solo project, so the job goes to his brother-in-law Jon Astley and Phil Chapman (who have also worked with The Who, Eric Clapton, David Bowie). Carolyne loves working with Jon and Phil, who encourage her to play more instruments, including synthesizer, mandolin and percussion. Phil especially loves Carolyne's songwriting, calling her a "Jackie DeShannon of the '80s."
The cover photos for this album are a bit more glamorous, taken by David Gahr (who has photographed legends from Bob Dylan to Dolly Parton).
"MODERN DREAMS" earns Carolyne some of the best reviews of her career so far, including Jon Young in TROUSER PRESS: "Never mind that her brassy exhuberance suits Broadway at least as much as rock--Mas can't be dismissed as another shallow belter. At her most committed she fashions delightful pop with a fine cutting edge." Nat Hentoff, COSMOPOLITAN: "Carolyne Mas is a walloping rocker; but as high as the volume gets, she never forgets to keep the words clear... A compelling young woman." And David Fricke, MUSICIAN: "She simply plays classy songs with rock 'n' roll guts."
She is also absolved by WNEW records who went off of her first LP after she performed for rival station WPIX, and she is given the honor of "Breakthrough Artist of the Week," with her version of Moon Martin's "Signal For Help," but this help comes too late. Mercury records offers tour support, if she will give them 100% of her publishing. Not willing to do this, and unable to pay her band, Mas is forced to cancel a showcase at PRIVATE'S in NYC which would have given her the opportunity to prove to the new president of Mercury Records as well as his staff who had all never seen her perform, that she is a talented artist who deserves their attention.
Deeply in debt, having taken out loans to keep her band on the road, she is forced to sell her guitars and her piano at a music store where her record, "MODERN DREAMS" is still in the "New Release" rack.
The next few years, because of creditors, she is only able to perform low profile gigs, mostly in Canada with a younger and cheaper band, cramming into one hotel room, and even camping out when there is no money for hotels. Carolyne and her band are even deported from Canada after her booking agent fails to file the correct paperwork with the authorities.
Having had enough of this, and with lawyers threatening to impound her pay at the clubs, Carolyne arrives finally, fatefully, at the lowest point in her life. Living in a rooming house in Ocean Grove, and later Asbury Park, NJ, Carolyne takes whatever work she can find. A local newspaper article later quotes her as saying: "I go-goed for a while--much to my parents' horror--cleaned bathrooms in a boarding house, and waitressed."
Eventually Carolyne finds a job she likes at The National Health And Nutrition Store--the same article shows her shelving vitamins there (in the photo below by Vic Yepello. Carolyne's interest in health and nutrition continues to this day.)
Through Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, she decides to sue her manager after he is caught forging her name on $40,000 worth of performance royalty checks from ASCAP. He is forced to reliquish all of his rights over Carolyne's music, but has spent all of her money. She agrees not to speak about him in public in exchange for his letting go.
DECEMBER 1985: With her legal matters finally settled, Carolyne returns to the stage, doing shows at FOLK CITY, SPEAK EASY (another folk club), IRVING PLAZA (with David Johansen and others), and opens shows for Todd Rundgren and Nils Lofgren at THE STONE PONY in October and November. In December, she plays an "All S.T.A.R.S. Showcase" in Bloomfield, NJ, and Paul Bobny writes in THE AQUARIAN: "For me, the evening's highlight was Carolyne Mas... just seeing someone as glad to be back on stage as she was tonight is nothing short of inspiring... Mas' attitude toward the past was evident in her demeanor tonight: forget the bitterness, forget the pain, just come out swinging. And so she did, outrocking anyone else crossing the stage this evening."
JANUARY 1986: Carolyne shares the stage with Springsteen and others at THE STONE PONY in Asbury Park, NJ, in a benefit to help the workers affected by the closing of a 3M plant in Freehold, NJ. She performs at the STONE PONY again on the 22, with J.A.M. (more about them later), and just as things are finally looking up, in the early hours of January 26, she is rushed to a Jersey Shore hospital, fighting this time for her life.
Just who broke into Carolye Mas's apartment, stabbing her 9 times, slitting her throat, then taking her prize Telecaster and her trademark hat, remains a mystery to this day. No cash was taken, though plenty was around. A half-eatten ham-and-cheese sandwich, a can of Campbell's Chunky Soup along with a can of tuna fish in a brown paper bag, and most disturbing, a copy of a Conan the Barbarian comic book, are all found at a picnic tabel outside her window. The door is forced open with a knife. She is stabbed in her sleep. She crawls to the door to open it for a neighbor who awoke for no explainable reason to check on her, and he calls the police.
She will be spared the memory of her attack, and her attacker will remain at large. Called an "aggrivated assault" by the police in Bradley Beach, NJ, the statute of limitations will end for this case after just 7 years, and remain a mystery without the possibility of an investigation. Had it been classified as an "attempted murder," justice for Carolyne would still be an option, but in 1986, crimes against women many which are cases of domestic abuse, are not a high a priority with the police.
Later that year, Arista Records releases "WE'VE GOT THE LOVE," a "We Are The World"-type charity single (and video) by "J.A.M. '86"--JERSEY ARTISTS FOR MANKIND--including Carolyne, Springsteen, Southside Johnny, Nils Lofgren, Frankie Valli, and others. The 12" record includes 5 versions of the title track and another song, "SAVE LOVE, SAVE LIFE," with Carolyne and the rest singing on both songs.
Carolyne tells BACKSTREETS (the Springsteen fanzine): "That was so much fun and so rewarding for me... It meant a lot to me to be a part of the project." Talking about new songs she has written, Carolyne says: "I have tons of them, I really do. It's funny because I have some basic rockers, but some songs are a bit more sophisticated than anything I've ever written in the past. Some of the stuff has a bit of a jazz feel. I guess that's the best way to describe it. It's not ordinary stuff. I have a song called 'CITY BOY' (which eventually appears on 'REASON STREET' in 1993) that's very, very jazzy. I like to explore new directions every now and then."
Carolyne is also included on another Jersey charity disc (first time on CD!) around this time: "NEW JERSEY ROCK 5," from radio station WDHA-FM. It features winning entries in their unsigned acts contest, and tracks by other Jersey artists including Carolyne's "PRETTY DANCER," produced by Carolyne, and engineered by Michael Kaufman.
1986: Carolyne hosts Monday night jams at KENNY'S CASTAWAYS and THE ROCK N ROLL CAFE, and works as a cook at both places. She recalls now that the most enthusiastic audience members were often German fans who saw her name in the New York City club listings ("the only name they recognized"), and "couldn't believe that they were actually able to see me play."
Bass player Ed Iglewski remembers: "We used to play at a club on Bleeker St. in NYC on Monday nights called 'The Rock & Roll Cafe.' It was only bass, drums, and Carolyne singing and playing guitar. These were my favorite gigs with her - no matter what was going on in her very confusing life at the time, she always kicked ass - and she had great songs. Every Monday, without fail, there would always be some German folks (tourists) in the audience and they would ask for specific songs - and knew the words. I finally said she should look into this because something is going on with this. Sure enough - someone was releasing her stuff there without her knowledge... Anyway, that was the birth of the whole 'German connection.'" Ed sums up his recollection of Carolyne at that time saying: "It's all good, and some quite funny. She was always a trip and fun to be around."
1988: After moving to Los Angeles at the persuassion of an old friend, Carolyne is asked by one of her German fans who had seen her play at the small NYC club, to record an album for a new label he has started, Still Sane Records (named after her debut single).
Wanting to make "a more roots-rock record," she goes to Springfield, Missouri to work with the highly-regarded midwestern group The Morrells aka.The Skeletons (called by ROLLING STONE "the greatest bar band of all time"), who Carolyne knew from their work with Steve Forbert years ago.
While in Springfield to record the album, Carolyne does some live performances with members of the band. Ron Sylvester writes in Springfield's THE NEWS LEADER: "Saturday, Lindburg's could have been a nightclub in New York or Los Angeles. Instead New York singer Carolyne Mas treated local music fans to a wonderful performance... Mas captivated the crowd. She has a powerful voice and writes rich songs... Unlike female vocalists such as Madonna who are known more for fashion than talent, Mas looked at home in a pair of blue jeans, a black turtleneck and a guitar slung across her shoulder... Mas sang a slow, soulful version of the usually up-tempo Beatles song 'EIGHT DAYS A WEEK'--a rendition that would have made Tina Turner jealous."
SEPTEMBER 1989: "ACTION PACT" is released in Germany on LP and CD. Co-produced by Carolyne and Lou Whitney of The Skeletons/Morrells, the album includes Carolyne's version of the classic instrumental "SLEEPWALK" with lyrics added by Mark Johnson (her soon-to-be collaborator), and the single "WHEN LOVE IS RIGHT." The title is an homage to the 1958 Ronnie Dawson song "Action Packed" (which Carolyne had planned to record, if time had allowed).
"ACTION PACT" gets a 4-star review in Sweden's SOUND EFFECTS magazine, their co-editor and critic John L. Bystrom naming it one of the Best Albums of 1990, saying: "I really LOVE the first side of that album!" (Carolyne and many of her fans have said that it is their favorite of all of her recordings.)
On tour in Germany after its release, Carolyne is "astonished to find myself doing concerts for thousands of people!" She also later writes to Jeff Lindsey: "I did a T.V. show called 'Up'n Swutsch,' which I did with Shawn Cassidy. I was unaware of the degree of my success there at the time, realizing only now that I was the main attraction that evening." She stays in Bremen when the tour (which also includes one date in Switzerland) is done.
1990: Illustrating the enduring popularity of "SITTIN' IN THE DARK," a German music magazine, LIVE IN CONCERT, writes the following (translated to English): "When a D.J. wants to do a pause for breath, looking for a long rock song without a sag, there will be only a few tracks for choice: 'Stairway To Heaven,' from Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple's 'Child In Time,' the classical 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' from Iron Butterfly, Peter Frampton's 'Do You Feel Like I Do,' or 'SITTIN' IN THE DARK' from Caroylne Mas. The New York singer and guitarist keeps the atmosphere cooking nearly 13 minutes with a sovereign mix of rock, folk, blues and jazz."
AUGUST 1990: Carolyne performs on a Russian television show, broadcast live to an estimated 400 million viewers: "This was all to playback, alone, and both the run thrus and the show were open to an audience. From what I gather, it was a huge variety type show. Huge high tech stage and many Russian stars. Not a soul spoke English, just German and Russian." Carolyne wants to break through the language differences and the lip-sync format and do something very real, so she chooses to perform "HE'S EVERYTHING I WANT (BUT A LITTLE BIT LESS)" from "ACTION PACT," singing live and accompanying herself on guitar. She also does lip-sync to a demo of "ONE TRACK MIND" (which is later recorded with producer Steve Burgh for the "BRAND NEW WORLD" CD in 1999), and "RECONSIDER MY LOVE" (from "REASON STREET" in 1993).
1992: The double "LIVE!" CD, from Carolyne's second German tour, is released on SPV Records "as a ploy by my manager to replace 'MAS HYSTERIA,' which was not yet available on CD." It includes a new 18-minute "SITTIN' IN THE DARK," and a 10-minute version of James Brown's "IT'S A MAN'S MAN'S WORLD."
The German edition of the fashion magazine ELLE features pictures of Carolyne (see the PHOTOS section of the website) and writes: "Original, straightforward, powerful and without calculated slickness, her bond with the audience is just right. Jumping and stomping with a monstrous intensity, and an even more monstrous voice, she stormed across the stage during her last tour, throwing herself on the boards in the heat of rock'n'roll without once gasping for air."
For her next studio album, there is talk of Carolyne working again with "MODERN DREAMS" producers John Astley--but his price is high and Carolyne would have to go to England for the recording. Instead she invites two New York musicians she knows to come to Germany and help produce the album along with Am Deich Studio producer Clive Gray: Charlton Pettus and Milton Sutton, who have also worked with Sinead O'Connor and Aimee Mann. Charlton would later go on to work with Phil Ramone, Hillary Duff, and "Tears For Fears."
MAY 1993: "REASON STREET" is released by SPV Records. Carolyne showcases the CD on a free promotional club tour of Germany: "As a promo for 'REASON STREET,' I did a solo acoustic mini-tour of major German cities in the summer of '93. I did one T.V. appearance in Budapest, and two playback performances in the former East Germany, one in Pottsdam, and one in Rostock.
Ellie Weinert writes in BILLBOARD: "While the album has been likened, in places, to anything from R.E.M. to 'Led Zeppelin IV,' her one-woman show recalls the simplicity and sincerity of the original Greenwich Village singer/songwriters, but her material is fresh, and the wry narrative of a song like the single 'DRIVING ON THE RADIO' has its own distinctive '90s appeal."
Once again, Carolyne finds herself at odds with both her management and her label, SPV, who had only been interested in obtaining another "Mas Hysteria" (this time on CD) with the "Live" album, and is not really interested in promoting "Reason Street." Despite favorable radio response from a newer and potentially broader audience, SPV spares little expense with their tiny black and white ads in the trades.
After paying her way out of her management contract, only four months after "Reason Street" is released, Carolyne once again returns to the U.S. with her boyfriend of 2 years, Teddy, a drummer from the group The Ballroom Stompers who had opened shows on her first and second German tour. They marry on October 8th, her parent's anniversary, and live for a while in Clearwater and Safety Harbor, Florida.
Carolyne performs with The Tampa Bay Players in the musical "IS THERE LIFE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL?", a play where she is one of 4 people who play multiple characters. She writes a new song, "IN A BOX," to open the second act, which intermingles with the opening dialogue, replacing the music from the original play. The production runs in downtown Tampa for 5 performances in September of 1994.
MAY 1995: Carolyne travels to NYC to record a demo with long time friend and artist/ songwriter/musician/producer Mark Johnson. They write and record "Little by Little" and "Be Your Girl," as part of a demo to fulfill SPV's option for a third CD. They turn down their option, but this time Carolyne is happy to be free. These demos will later appear on "BEYOND MERCURY."
1996: While Carolyne is living again in Brooklyn NY, and working as a cashier at GOURMET GARAGE in Soho, she gets a phone call from a friend who is visiting Germany. "MAS HYSTERIA" has been released in Germany on CD by Polymedia/Mercury, who puts out retrospectives of classic artists. SPV, who has purchased the German rights for all of Carolyne's Mercury releases including "Mas Hysteria," promptly has it pulled from stores, and releases their own version, and this time Carolyne is requested to provide liner notes and extra photos. Inside the CD, it states that her three Mercury albums will be released on CD in Spring of 1997, but that never happens.
NOVEMBER 1998: Carolyne is asked by her former producer Steve Burgh in New York, if she would be interested in doing a new album. She makes mp3s out of demos and emails them from her new home in Nashville TN, giving Steve a head start. They record a whole album, "BRAND NEW WORLD," but with no management shopping it to record labels, it goes unheard and unreleased for many years. (Three of the songs are later heard on Carolyne's "BEYOND MERCURY" collection in 2003, and the whole album is finally released by Carolyne in 2005.)
While in New York recording, Carolyne performs live at THE BOTTOM LINE in January 1999, opening for Steve Forbert. Burgh plays guitar with her on the set, which includes: "KING OF THE U-TURN," "SECOND HAND APOLOGY," "LITTLE BY LITTLE," "CRAZY FOR YOUR LOVE," "RECONSIDER MY LOVE," and "TENDER."
DECEMBER 2000 - JANUARY 2001: Carolyne is in Los Angeles, where she and Mark Johnson again demo three new songs (2 of these are included on "BEYOND MERCURY." The photo used on the back of the CD is also taken on this trip.)
2001-2002: 3 new CDs with Carolyne's music are released in Germany--all without her knowledge, or compensation. First is a "24 Karat Echtgold CD" compilation by AUDIO magazine, called "AUDIO'S AUDIOPHILE: IN CONCERT." It contains 14 live performances by various artists ranging from Tony Bennett to John Denver to Thelonious Monk, along with Carolyne's 13:31 minute "SITTIN' IN THE DARK." The package includes a nice booklet with a full page devoted to each track, showing the original albums covers (Carolyne's being "MAS HYSTERIA").
The next release is a 3-CD set on the TIM (The International Music Company) label titled "SITTN' IN THE DARK," which is simply reissues of the complete "LIVE!" and "REASON STREET" CDs.
A 2-CD set is also released with just the double "LIVE!" CD. They are both cased in a nice slip-cover, and the photo was snatched off of Carolyne's original Web page. It is a personal photo given to her by photographer Elliot Landy from the photo session for her first LP. Ironically, she said then that it was her best album cover, because it finally showed the full photo of what had been cropped on her first LP, and is far less conservative.
After these reissues, two tracks from "REASON STREET" ("LOVERS FROM THE START" and "HIDDEN MYSTERY") are played often on German radio--showing the timeless appeal of this album, released a whole decade earlier. Lastly, a selection of 14 tracks from "LIVE!" and "REASON STREET" are released on the TIM label as "STAY TRUE." The cover photo is a very grainy version of the first album photo in reverse, and the CD insert opens up with photos from the second album sleeve and the "MAS HYSTERIA" CD reissue, with an original quote taken from fan Charles G. Hill's website tribute to Carolyne--without even including his name or the source of the quote.
2002 brings major personal changes in Carolyne's life: The birth of her son Gabriel on March 17, the death of her father on May 21, and in August she becomes guardian of his sister, Ana, who has Alzheimer's disease.
DECEMBER 2002: Frustrated by the inferior care of her Aunt in a brief nursing home stay, and by hired caregivers, Carolyne moves with her infant son, 4 parrots, and 3 cats, to Florida, leaving Teddy behind to care for their 25 dogs and 33 cats in Nashville.
NOVEMBER 2003: Carolyne compiles her first-ever career-spanning retrospective, "BEYOND MERCURY," and releases it herself online only. Containing half old and half new tracks (plus a 50-year-old performance by her father, to whom the CD is dedicated), Carolyne says that she chose the songs like she was doing a set-list for a show. She includes material from all five of her studio albums, plus many previously unreleased album cuts and demos--spanning over two decades. Carolyne names her own record label "Savage Juliet Records," after the label inside a coat that someone gave her years ago in Springfield, Missouri.
JULY 2004: Carolyne finds a new home in New Port Richey, FL, that used to be a boarding and training facility for dogs, and in October, Teddy and the animals move from Nashville. Finally, they are all a family again. Their happiness is short lived, however, as they find that the property is not zoned for them to have so many animals. A 2 1/2 year battle with their next door neighbor escalates, which will later involve the county, and a series of inept lawyers who end up making her situation worse.
FEBRUARY 2005: Steve Burgh dies of a sudden massive heart attack, and Carolyne decides that she will release "BRAND NEW WORLD," the album they made in 1999, as a tribute to him. For the CD cover, Carolyne chooses a photo of her son taken by Felix Agustinho on December 12, 2004 during a family cruise aboard Holland America's M.S. Veendam. The back photo of a glorious sunset at sea, was taken by Carolyne the same day. MInside the CD is Carolyne's dedication to Steve Burgh, with an image of them onstage together at THE BOTTOM LINE during the time the album was recorded in January of 1999.
MARCH 2006: After fighting with the county and losing, Carolyne is given 30 days in which to relocate all of her animals and her family. Fortunately, they find an agriculturally zoned property in the town of Brooksville, FL. Thus begins the flurry of activity to meet the unreasonable demands of the court-imposed time frame.
APRIL 2006: Making the deadline by sheer hard work on the part of her family and some great hired help, all of the animals are moved on time. Carolyne's Aunt enjoys her new bedroom with the view of a neighboring pond. It is at the end of this month, that Carolyne returns briefly to the world of music, performing 11 solo shows in 11 days in Italy. She is well-received, and will make many friends and fans on this trip, who enjoy the soulful quality of her piano ballads, an audience unlike any she had encountered in the past, who had usually overlooked the quieter elements of her music in favor of the rockier ones.
APRIL 2008: Carolyne's Aunt Ana, "Auntie Yiya," whom she nursed for nearly 6 years with a med-free and organic diet, passes away quietly in her sleep, at home on the morning of April 1st. She was the longest surviving person in the Mas family - ever.
MAY 2008: Carolyne reunites with songwriting and producing partner Mark Johnson, to record Italian singer/songwriter Graziano Romani's song, "THE MOST CRUCIAL ENEMY", for a compilation that is slated for release exclusively to Romani's fan club in Italy later that summer. It is recorded in a makeshift studio that Carolyne, Teddy, and Mark set up in her late Aunt's bedroom. Carolyne even uses her Aunt's electric piano on the recording. Oddly enough, this had been the last song her Aunt had heard her play, and her final words to Carolyne as she played, were, "Don't stop." It is in this same month that she incorporates her sanctuary, "Our Animal Haus", and begins to take the steps towards becoming a legitimate non-profit organization.
In October of 2009, "Our Animal Haus" becomes the target of an illegal raid and brutal seizure. Most of their beloved animals are euthanized, and the rest are sold for profit by some very corrupt forces at work in Hernando County, FL. In clear violation of her Constitutional rights, she is never given the time to secure legal counsel. The case is fast-tracked, making any sort of attempt via an appeal to save the lives of her animals...impossible.
2010: In an effort to escape the ongoing harassment in Brooksville, FL, Carolyne and her family are advised by an attorney to leave the state, so she heads out west to the desert in an effort to find peace with her family. Sadly, Carolyne's dear mother Livia passes away only a few days before Christmas, on December 20th. She is devastated.
2011: Following her mother's death, Mas has no choice but to rebuild her life again from top to bottom. The way she chooses to do this, is by purging her stories from the depths of her soul and turning them into a series of cathartic chapters which she develops into a memoir of her very complex life. She hopes to publish her book someday soon.
2012: Carolyne spends all of her time raising her beloved son Gabriel, in the beautiful rural deset of Arizona. She lives completely off the grid, and drives a car which runs on vegetable oil. Although she works tirelessly to assemble a case attempting to seek justice for those who acted without authority and with complete indifference for the welfare of her animals in 2009, Carolyne is still unable to find a lawyer who will work on a contingency basis. She is left with no choice but to move on and let go of the past without any real closure -- something already very familiar to her.
EVER ONWARD: For several years, Carolyne remains absent from the world of music. During her time as a caregiver, she had developed chronic arthritis in both of her hands, which makes playing difficult and painful. However, in August of 2012 a much-needed ray of hope finally emerges from underneath the door she thought had been closed forever. With the help of a naturopathic doctor named Yvonne Skinner, herself a guitarist in the nearby town of Wilcox, Carolyne learns that she has a severe allergy to gluten. Eliminating this completely from her diet, the inflammation and pain subsides to the point where she is able to play music once more. This is clearly music to the ears of her many fans all over the world, and nothing short of a miracle.
THE ROAD AHEAD: They say that when the pupil is ready, the master will appear; apparently, so do the gigs! In January and February of 2013, Carolyne returns to the stage once more, completing a successful solo acoustic tour of both Italy and Germany. Italian roots rock label Route 61 Music Is moved by Carolyne's performance so much, that they decided to record her performing several of her own songs as well as a few select covers penned by her colleagues and friends. This magical recording takes place in a small studio just outside of Rome on February 1, 2013, during her tour. Some of these songs, like Springsteen's "NEW YORK CITY SERENADE" and Steve Forbert's "WITCH BLUES" she has been performing for years but had never before been recorded. The title song, "ACROSS THE RIVER", was written by fellow Greenwich Village singer/songwriter Willie Nile, and had not been performed by Carolyne since 1978. Original songs such as "SITTIN' IN THE DARK" and "THAT SWING THING" are revisited with fresh interpretations on this album, while more obscure compositions like "IN A BOX" and "MEXICAN LOVE SONG" are finally being made available to her fans. "ACROSS THE RIVER", is released on October 21st of 2013, and is available from Amazon Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK. You can also download it on Amazon or on iTunes.
In January of 2014, Carolyne completes her third tour of Italy. She is backed by popular Italian artist Daniele Tenca , and his superb Working Class Band. The tour is a great success, and her audience in Italy contines to grow.
2015: Carolyne works on a book of poetry, photography, and digital artwork, entitled "Dear John...", with artist Terry Shanahan.
2016: After completing one year at Cochise College with highest honors and being inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, Carolyne enrolls full-time at Arizona State University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Integrative Health. In 2017 she receives a scholarship to attend a scholar laureate program in nursing and healthcare in South Africa. In 2017, she is inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and in 2018, she is inducted into ASU’s chapter of Golden Key International Honour Society. In December of the same year, she receives an ASU Study Abroad Travel Scholarship to visit Cuba and learn first-hand about their history and healthcare system. On May 6th of 2019, she graduates summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Integrative Health from ASU, and then proceeds to graduate on May 3rd of 2021, also from ASU, with a Master of Science in Medical Nutrition. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Functional and Integrative Nutrition from Saybrook University.
Watch for updates on this page; you never know what will happen next! In the mean time, please feel free to explore Carolyne's blog, photos, and music.
For complete album reviews, see the MUSIC section. For other complete articles and quotes, see PRESS.
© 2021 Carolyne Mas