I work in Maryland and Virginia. 35 years ago I started as laborer/gofer for a mason who spent a lot of time training me on how to prepare the brick, block or stone with the right moisture content. He was adamant that not doing so would draw too much water from the mortar causing shrinkage before it could bond to the materials.
He showed me recently finished masonry with hairline cracks between the mortar and the brick, and explained how the masonry would be weaker, fail sooner and be prone to unnecessary water entry damage and efflorescence.
I fee that mortar cracks especially on flat surfaces is a prime source for water entry into and behind masonry. Over half the masonry/stone jobs I see have cracks in the mortar and then efflorescence within six months of being laid. The efflorescence is the evidence that water is getting where it will damage.
It seems that preparing bricks, block or stone with the right moisture content is a lost art. Could you help revive it with some best practices. Thank you for any help you can provide.