Mastin & Brewer ~ 1965-66

Michael Brewer Bio


Tom Mastin, Billy Mundi, Michael Brewer, & Jim Fielder

Following the overnight success of "Mr Tambourine Man", a generation of folk musicians abandoned the traditional form to follow The Byrds' lead and merge folk with rock elements. One of the most promising outfits was the little known, and decidedly short-lived Mastin & Brewer, formed in the spring of 1966 by aspiring singer/songwriters Tom Mastin and Michael Brewer (b. Apr. 14, 1944, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma).

Both had been active on the nation's folk circuit since the early '60s and had met at the Blind Owl coffeehouse in Kent, Ohio in 1964. With the folk scene on its last legs, the duo, abetted by Mastin's friend and fellow singer/songwriter Dave McIntosh, decided to head out to San Francisco the following year to check out the emerging West Coast scene. Following a brief spell in the city, Mastin and Brewer parted company with McIntosh and traveled to Los Angeles to visit some old folk friends working with New Christy Minstrel Randy Sparks and manager Barry Friedman (later better known as Frazier Mohawk). While there, they recorded a three-song demo comprising original compositions "Bound To Fall", "Need You" and "Sideswiped". Suitably impressed by the quality of the songs, Friedman (who had produced the recordings) took the demos to Columbia Records, which immediately expressed an interest in signing the duo.

With a recording deal in the can, Friedman hastily organized a support band so that they could take the songs out on the road, and duly drafted in ex-Skip Battin Group member Billy Mundi (Sept. 25, 1942, San Francisco, California) and Tim Buckley's friend and bass player Jim Fielder (b. James Thomas Fielder, Oct. 4, 1947, Denton, Texas).

Interestingly, the quartet's initial rehearsals took place in an apartment on Hollywood's Fountain Avenue, which also housed like-minded souls Stephen Stills and Richie Furay, then in the process of forming Buffalo Springfield with Friedman's assistance. The close relationship between the two groups was cemented when both outfits provided support for The Byrds and The Dillards on a six-date tour of southern California in April 1966. During this period, Mastin & Brewer also played at the popular L.A. haunts, the Ash Grove and the Whisky-A-Go Go, and for a brief spell also gigged under the guise of The Elesian Senate.

Sadly, the group's initial promise was undermined by internal problems; Mastin reportedly suffered from severe bouts of depression, and ultimately walked out of the group during sessions for the band's debut album. With the group's future in jeopardy, Mundi left to briefly work with rival folk-rockers The Lamp of Childhood before landing a more prestigious slot in The Mothers of Invention. Having reunited with Fielder on the sessions for Tim Buckley's eponymous debut album, he was instrumental in bringing Fielder into the Mothers later that autumn. 

Brewer meanwhile recruited his brother Keith to replace Mastin (who later committed suicide) and the duo, abetted by Barry Friedman, readied the Mastin & Brewer single, "Need You/Rainbow" (Columbia 4-43977), for release, with Keith Brewer's vocals replacing Mastin's. Columbia duly released the single, albeit in limited numbers, as Brewer & Brewer that autumn, but it failed to attract much interest. 

Early in the new year, the duo began work on a new batch of material including "Love, Love", and for a brief period, the brothers called themselves Chief Waldo and The Potted Mum, although no performances or recordings took place under this name.

By the summer, Keith had moved on and Mike found work as a songwriter at Good Sam Music, an affiliation of A&M Records. He was soon joined by another old friend from the Blind Owl coffeehouse days, Tom Shipley, who had just arrived in Los Angeles in search of work, and soon afterwards they forged a new partnership, Brewer & Shipley. Working on fresh material at Leon Russell's house, the duo also recorded Mike and Keith's "Love, Love" and Mike's "Truly Right", written about Tom Mastin, both of which subsequently appeared on the debut Brewer & Shipley album "Down In L.A". The latter, incidentally, was also recorded by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, while The Byrds did an instrumental version of Mastin & Brewer's "Bound To Fall" (from the three-song demo) for their album 'The Notorious Byrd Brothers', but it was later shelved. However, group member Chris Hillman later revived the song in Steve Stills' Manassas and Brewer & Shipley eventually recorded their own version in 1974.

As for Billy Mundi and Jim Fielder; Billy later played in the Elektra band Rhinoceros, before doing copious sessions, while Fielder worked with Buffalo Springfield briefly and subsequently found international success with Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Thanks to Mike Brewer for additional information on the group's career, to Billy Mundi for use of the Mastin & Brewer photograph and to Carny Corbett for information on the Brewer and Brewer single.

~ Nick Warburton


bullet Nick Warburton's Mastin & Brewer page
bullet Jim Fielder Interview (see 1967)
bullet Billy Mundi site




Michael Brewer Bio