Music With A Message: Saving the world, one song at a time
by Mary Hay Davis
San Diego Family Magazine, December 2007
What do you get when you cross a conservationist with a guitar? Why, Wild Wes, of course, a man whose music has an even bigger message.
Wild Wes is really E. Wesley Mason. By day, he’s a mild-mannered education supervisor at the San Diego Zoo, but come showtime, he morphs into Wild Wes, adventurer, narrator and host of his one-man show, through which he spreads the gospel of conservation, one performance at a time.
Think “School House Rock” meets Animal Planet. Having worked with children for over a decade, Mason learned to grab kids’ attention in an engaging, entertaining way. He weaves information about animals, habitats and ecosystems throughout his music like an artisan weaves gilded strands through a tapestry.
Mason’s first album “Save the World” includes songs in a variety of musical genres and styles, each sharing a common theme of protecting wildlife and the planet. Subjects vary from recycling (“Recycling’s Cool”) to perspective and tolerance (“Funny Looking”). You’ve got to admire a guy who can introduce the broad science of taxonomy and so easily pare it down to a child’s level (“The Vertebrate Classification Song”).
Mason’s father was an attorney and his mother a teacher, and he credits both of them for setting him on the path he’s on today. As a baby, Mason suffered from ear problems, so his father would place stereo headphones over his son’s ears. Soothed by the sounds of Johnny Cash, Mason credits this as the catalyst for his love of music.
When Mason was 7 years old, his grandmother gave him $100 as a gift, which he used to buy a guitar and some lessons, sealing his fate as a troubadour.
Currently, Mason performs at the San Diego Zoo, a venue he loves.
“Our classroom is over 100 acres, and it’s great for the kids to be able to interact with the animals. I also get the opportunity to introduce people to experiences they wouldn’t get anywhere else. I want to convey the message of wildlife conservation through a variety of avenues, and through different musical styles,” says Mason.
Parents and teachers alike will find Wild Wes’ music refreshing, and also a great tool for sneaking in some extracurricular learning. I mean, how many of you knew that giraffes and okapis have tongues that are 18 inches long?
A quote from African conservationist Baba Dioum sums up Mason’s message: In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
Just as the Grand Canyon was carved out one drop of water at a time, Wild Wes hopes to help mold a future generation of kids into conservation-minded, eco-friendly citizens, one song at a time.