Diveristy in Friendship
by Antone R.E. Pierucci
It’s not uncommon for Masonic table lodges and festive boards to feature, among the many toasts and cheers, a raucous song or two. What’s less common is for those songs to be carried off by professionals.
That’s part of what makes the social gatherings at Santa Monica–Palisades No. 307 special. As befits a group from West L.A., the membership of the lodge skews heavily toward those in showbiz, including a fair share of musicians, songwriters, record producers, sound editors, and entertainment lawyers. In all, it’s probably safe to say Santa Monica–Palisades is among the most musically gifted Masonic lodge in the state. “We’re a product of Los Angeles,” explains lodge master Jay Milla. “As people learned who our members were, they wanted to join too, so we’ve attracted a wide range of people from the music industry over the years.”
Take Jason Heath, the lodge’s junior warden and frontman for the roots-rock outfit Jason Heath and the Greedy Souls. Joining him onstage is multi-instrumentalist Jason Federici, Heath’s good friend and a fellow lodge member. “I saw Jason get so much out of his membership over the years,” says Federici, whose father is the late Danny Federici of the E Street Band. So he followed Heath’s lead and joined the lodge in 2019.
For Heath, music and Masonry share DNA. “Song-writing is such a mysterious, ethereal thing,” he says. “It’s full of imagery and allegory, just like Freemasonry. The two go well together.” Unsurprisingly, he says, the two crafts occasionally bleed into one another. “They say you write what you know, so it’s inevitable that Masonry has made its way into my music.” Hence, songs including “Sacred Geometry” and “The Secret Fire.”
Then there’s officer’s coach and three-time past lodge master Harry Maslin. One of the top record producers of the 1970s, his credits include David Bowie’s chart-toppers “Fame” and “Golden Years,” as well as a string of hits from Barry Manilow (“Mandy”), Dionne Warwick (“Then Came You”), and Air Supply (“The One That You Love“), among many others.
These days, most lodge get-togethers in Santa Monica take on a musical theme. Whether it’s an Irish band at the St. Patrick’s Day dinner, the organist the lodge invites to play its annual officers’ installation ceremony, or acts that have performed during social events, “Music is an important element in every lodge event we host,” Milla says. It’s also an integral part of how members experience Freemasonry: Santa Monica–Palisades has held Masonic Education lectures on the music of Mozart and the role of music as one of the Seven Liberal Arts. Then of course there’s the everyday shop talk. “You can’t get a bunch of musicians in a room together without them talking music,” Milla says.
Music also colors the group’s charitable work. For several years, the lodge has funded a local high school band, each year paying for new instruments and their upkeep.
Says Heath, “Being in a band is all about collaboration and interpersonal connection. That same experience exists in Masonry, and I think that’s why there’s such an aura about our lodge. Our brothers are natural collaborators.” Milla agrees: “Our lodge is the kind of place you always leave with a smile on your face.” And often, it’s true, with a tune in your head.
Lodge members Jason Heath (second from left) and Jason Federici (on the accordian) of Jason Heath And The Greedy Souls
Russ Hennings/Moonbeam Studios
More from this issue:
This fall, in ‘Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol’ on Peacock, a new Masonic mystery thriller hits the streaming airwaves.