In Memoriam: Draylen Mason

Remembering the gifted young bassist who lost his life

First things first: Draylen Mason was a musician. Let's be clear on that before this talented young bass player comes to be defined by his age or how he lost his life. He was active in the city's music scene and had been accepted to both the University of Texas' Butler School of Music and the University of North Texas music program. Mason knew the score.

Draylen Mason

That's been made clear by everyone who's spoken about the 17-year-old East Austin College Prep student since a package left outside his family's home exploded, killing him and injuring his mother. Whether it was someone who knew him from the Austin Youth Orchestra, where he was the principal double bass player, or the educational music program Austin Soundwaves, which he joined in its first year, 2012, and where he had risen to the position of principal bassist, or the Austin Chamber Music Center or the Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he also studied, or the Los Angeles Philharmonic's National Take a Stand Festival, in which he had the privilege of rehearsing with bassist Oscar Meza, or EAPrep, where he had been a student since sixth grade and was due to graduate this spring, the sentiment was the same: He really loved music, he worked hard at it, and he was really, really good. His acceptance to both the Butler School of Music and UNT's prestigious music program is further testimony to that, as well as an indication that Draylen Mason had a bright future ahead as a professional musician.

Although Draylen had made the double bass the focus of his studies, he played a range of instruments – electric bass, guitar, cello – and a range of music, including jazz and mariachi. And as if playing music wasn't enough, he composed it, too. A piece of chamber music that he wrote, titled "Hell Fire," was included in Golden Hornet's second annual Young Composer Concert. Next week, the third Young Composer Concert will take place, and Golden Hornet has decided to dedicate it to Draylen.

By all accounts, he was deeply appreciative of his instructors and mentors and supportive of his peers. Statements in news reports and posts on Facebook relate stories of his kindness and generosity. And those stories have generated a response in kind. In just four days, a campaign to raise funds for the Mason family has drawn 2,430 donations totaling more than $87,000.

On the local arts scene, Salvage Vanguard Theater has postponed the opening of its production of con flama by Sharon Bridgforth, to mourn the lives of Draylen Mason and Anthony Stephan House, who was killed by a similar package bomb a week earlier. On Sat., March 17, at 6pm, the company will hold a con flama community healing performance and gathering at Givens Park. The production will open Thu., March 22, and run through April 7 at the Dougherty Arts Center. For more information, visit the SVT website.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Draylen Mason
Draylen Mason Is Still Being Remembered, and How Matters
Draylen Mason Is Still Being Remembered, and How Matters
A year after his death, we should do as Draylen did

Robert Faires, March 22, 2019

Playback: Bombs, Beto, and the Biggest Music Stories of 2018
Playback: Bombs, Beto, and the Biggest Music Stories of 2018
“Playback” recaps the news, trends, and controversies of the year. Outrage level: high.

Kevin Curtin, Dec. 14, 2018

More Austin bombings
Austin Bombings Suspect Dead
Austin Bombings Suspect Dead
Suspect blew himself up early Wednesday as officers closed in

Chase Hoffberger, March 21, 2018

Bomb in Southwest Austin Is Fourth in Past Two Weeks
Bomb in Southwest Austin Is Fourth in Past Two Weeks
Two in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

Chase Hoffberger, March 19, 2018

More by Robert Faires
The ACC Drama Department Enters Teaching in the Coronavirus Tragedy
The ACC Drama Department Enters Teaching in the Coronavirus Tragedy
For Marcus McQuirter and ACC drama department, even in the pandemic it's on with the show

Aug. 7, 2020

Moontower Comedy Festival Rescheduled
Moontower Comedy Festival Rescheduled
New dates for the annual event, setting up two jokes in 2021

Aug. 4, 2020


Austin bombings, Draylen Mason, Austin Soundwaves, Austin Youth Orchestra, Austin Chamber Music Center, Interlochen Center for the Arts

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle