Former Duluth firefighter put out flames and had rhythm

By Taylor Kraft Music has always been a part of David Mattson's life, from high school to retirement. David, 71, has always been a busy man, but has always found time to make music.

David started his music career in high school when he joined a band called The Accordianar’s. He played the accordion and the cordovox. They played for the Octennial, played at Soldier Field in Chicago, and his last trip was out to New York.

When he graduated from high school, David quit the band and became a fire fighter in Duluth. He operated the trucks, working 24 hours on and 24 hours off. But that didn’t stop him from playing.

In 1955, he started a trio band called the David Mattson Trio. However, It soon became a quartet and finally a quintet, which changed his band to David Mattson Quintet, DMQ.

“It was a true variety band,” David said. “We usually played lounge music but we played anything people requested; rock n’ roll to polka. Any kind of stuff.”

The band started by playing for teen dances at the Proctor Village Hall. They then moved onto bigger gigs at the Highland Supper Club and the Flames Supper Club. They played for special events as well.

His wife, Pat Mattson, started to miss her husband and decided to learn the bass guitar so that she could spend more time with him in 1965.

“She played the clarinet in high school,” David said. “But boy did she play that bass. We had a good P.A. system and we would make sure that the bass was cranked up.”

Pat became their sound technician for their system as well.

He then joined the Board of Directors Musician Union in 1959, as an executive board member for the Duluth Musician’s Association.

The Duluth Musician’s Association is part of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) which helps musicians by raising industry standards and placing professional musicians in the foreground of the cultural landscape.

David also became part of the Male Masonic Choir in 1977 where he did it all. He directed, sang and sometimes played the keyboard for the choir.

The band became more popular and they kept getting more and more bookings. But David was getting tired of playing so much, because he was married and had three kids. David and his wife also became very active in The Order of the Eastern Star.

“People don’t realize that it’s a lot of work to play for a night,” David said. “We would play for four hours but it would take two hours to set up, and another two hours to pack up after the show. It was an eight hour job.”

The band ended gradually in the early 1990’s and he began to focus on his family life and work. After being a fire fighter for 17 years, he had become a Fire Marshall for Duluth in 1980.

Pat was an appointed officer for the Order of the Eastern Star in 1991. Shortly after, David was elected to a line of progressive offices and served as Worthy Grand Officer in 1996.

The progressive offices were dedicated to saying it with music. They traveled around the state of Minnesota singing the passages during Masonic Fraternity rituals.

“I wouldn’t say that music is the largest part of my life,” David said. “But it has always been in my life.”

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