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Band of the Week: Mason District 

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MEET THE BAND: Tom Tobias (guitar, vocals), Maria Petti (bass, vocals), Collin Nutter (drums)

A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING: Band members met each other while performing at local open mic nights. "I was hosting a local open mic in Mentor, and I met Maria [Petti] and Collin [Nutter] through that," says Tobias, who started playing acoustic shows with Petti first. "We played cover songs by bands like the Black Keys. We continued to play cover songs to test out the waters and see how we all worked together. Then we started writing original music." He says band members listen to everything from hip-hop to indie rock. "Our main influences are Black Keys, Kings of Leon, Alabama Shakes and Portugal the Man. We also like older styles of music like CCR, David Bowie and Steppenwolf. I think we're all influenced by those older bands."

REALLY RAW: In December of 2016, the Mason District recorded its first EP, Shotgun Soul, in Nutter's basement. Local producer du jour Jim Stewart handled mixing duties. "It was that raw style with not much production in it," says Tobias. 

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The simple, catchy guitar riffs in tunes such as "Earth to Lucy" distinguish the songs and suggest the band's song-writing skills have evolved nicely. The song even has a really cool, trippy section that serves as the bridge. "We want to put together a whole album, so we're breaking it up into three EPs," says Tobias. "We'll do three release shows. We call it The Blue Room.  They originated in a practice room we used to play at that was at Collin's house." The band sculpted the songs at the practice space but then recorded them with local producer Mike Brown at his Lava Room Recording. "What we wanted to do different from Shotgun Soul was throw more production in it, and we wanted a fuller sound," says Tobias. "We did a lot of production ourselves. Mike [Brown] helped with some things that were missing. He definitely helped out a lot." The band will celebrate the release of the first three songs with the upcoming show at the Grog Shop. "I'll start with the skeleton of the song and write a melody and throw some lyrics in there," says Tobias. "I am starting to mess with piano a little more for writing.  Maria and Collin will bring in their parts. We are trying to write music that will catch someone's attention. When you hear us live, we want you to remember the songs. It's a hard thing to do. It doesn't happen automatically. We're trying to write together more where we build off of a guitar riff.  I like involving everybody into the writing process as a whole." Tobias says the drums and bass are done for the next six songs, which the band will release on the two forthcoming EPs. 

WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: themasondistrict.com

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: The Mason  District performs with Whiskey Hollow and Smoke Screen at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 12, at the Grog Shop.

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