Written by Jim Bille
Sep 09, 2006 at 08:00 PM
ImageDave Alvin has been around long enough now that his name should be No.1 in who’s who of the American Roots music catalog.  But don’t even think about pigeonholing Dave Alvin’s music into one category. Alvin has always described his song writing as American Music, meaning that his style covers all types of just that, American Music. He can sing the most mournful and heartfelt ballad you ever heard and then follow it up with a jackhammer mad guitar tune that will knock the dust off the rafters. He can twang out some of the best sounding country air this side of Merle Haggard or George Jones and then thrash it as he did with John Doe and his band “X”. Music from his Blaster days with brother Phil handling rhythm guitar and vocals are now considered classics by true fans worldwide. This music weighed more towards modern rock-a-billy with some gospel overtones and got you sweatin’ real fast. Roll all this sound up together and you get Dave Alvin today.

Dave Alvin came to town Saturday night with his band The Guilty Men and rocked the paint off the walls of the Continental Club. The music took off quick with a face-slap version of the classic Blasters song ‘Good Bye Baby So Long’. This was the start of a DA show to remember.
Alvin touched on all his best solo work this evening. His set included ‘Ashgrove’, ‘Out of Control’, ‘Abilene’, ‘Out in California’ and ‘Sinful Daughter’ among others. Blaster highlights included the aforementioned ‘Good Bye Baby So Long’, ‘Trouble Bound’ and an encore set that featured’ Marie Marie’.

This tour was set on the heals of Alvin’s latest release ‘West of The West’, which is a compilation of music written by California songwriters other than Dave. His homage Saturday night to his fellow West Coast writers included Jackson Browne’s ‘Redneck Friend’, Tom Waits’s ‘Blind Love’ and Tom Russell’s ‘Between the Cracks’.

With the Guilty Men backing Alvin there can’t be a much better live show. These guys cook it up with keyboards, guitar, pedal steel and even accordion. Austin native Chris Miller’s back up guitar and pedal steel work was righteous. Alvin called him the man with all the pretty guitars but I can attest that these instruments were not just for show. The sound Miller produced on these guitar beauties was numbing and perfectly augmented Dave Alvin’s own stringed wizardry.
Joe Terry on keyboards played like a man with twenty fingers while Greg Boaz kept the sound anchored on bass.

Long time Guilty Man, Chris Gaffney was on hand for his last appearance with the band for a while. Gaffney and former Paladin band member Dave Gonzales have collaborated on a new project, The Hacienda Brothers, over the past few years and are now hitting the road on tour. The Hacienda Brothers opened the show Saturday and definitely are a band to be reckoned with. Their style is an interesting mix of traditional country and soul.

I was fortunate enough to see Dave Alvin and his band last year at ‘The Great American Music Hall’ in San Francisco. This performance was taped and later released on a live CD called ‘The Great American Galaxy’. If you missed the show at the Continental Club, this CD is the next best thing to being there in person. It will give you a good idea of what Dave Alvin’s American Music is all about and if you pay close attention you can here me screaming my head off with the rest of the crowd.