Band Spotlight
July 16, 2014 • 04:31:08 p.m.

Changing dreams to chase for Chasin’ Mason

By JAMI KUNZER jkunzer@shawmedia.com

Chasin' Mason, a popular Wisconsin-based country rock band, will perform July 18 as part of Woodstock's new Summer in the Park. The band features Don Moore on guitar (in chair, from left), Keith Pulvermacher on guitar, Johnny Cee on drums, Donn Trampe on bass and Billy O'Dwyer on vocals (in chair, center). Not pictured is Ryan Rossebo on guitar. (Photo provided)

When Chasin’ Mason first formed about 11 years ago, they named themselves after a highly sought-after studio musician in Nashville.

Brent Mason is one of the most recorded guitarists in history.

The name grew out of a desire to “hit that gold ring in music,” said Billy O’Dwyer, the country rock band’s lead singer.

“Over the years, it just turned into we want to be the best musicians we can be, the best band we can be,” he said. “Now it’s more about being the best men we can be, the best brother, friend, husband, neighbor. It’s just about presenting yourself in the best light you can.”

And that’s what the popular Wisconsin-based band intends to do at a performance July 18 for Woodstock’s inaugural Summer in the Park. Running through July 20 at Emricson Park, the festival features, music, food, a carnival, children’s activities and entertainment, a bags tournament, a movie in the park and other events throughout the weekend.

With a new album “Real Life Real Loud,” Chasin’ Mason describes its music as influenced by everything from Merle Haggard to John Mellencamp to U2 and Keith Urban.

O’Dwyer joined the band a few months after it formed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by answering an online advertisement for a singer.

A construction worker, he quit his job a couple of months later to devote himself to Chasin’ Mason.

“We just kind of approached the music in a pretty unbridled fashion,” he said. “It’s the presentation of it, staying true to yourself and not trying to be something else... and kind of approaching it with the same teenage angst that got you to fall in love with Metallica ...

“We’ve been successful for no good reason. We just kind of refused to give up.”

The band has worked in Nashville, and members have thought about pursuing a career there, but they prefer to be close to their families and aren’t willing to sacrifice their personal lives, O’Dwyer said.

O’Dwyer, who wrote most of the songs on the band’s album, said he’s “living the dream” simply being able to make a living performing. He pointed out the song “Lost and Found,” which is somewhat of a personal account of his life.

“I’ve literally made some of the worst decisions a person can and beg for forgiveness on a daily basis because of it,” he said. “At the same time, if there’s a party, I’m the first dude up on the table. I just try not to get arrested as much as I used to.”

Another song, “Heartland,” is the band’s calling card, he said, and all about the Midwest.

About 75 percent of the band’s songs in performances are cover songs, he said.

“Sometimes you hear a song and you’re like, ‘I want to sing the sh-- out of it,” he said.

“If you look at our band, you don’t know if we’re having a good time or about to fight soembody. It’s a really intense group of guys,” he said. “We’re literally like brothers. Sometimes we don’t get along, but whatever happens, when we get on the stage, it’s about the music, and people see that and fall in love with the passion we have.”


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