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Dave Alvin

Dave Alvin helped to kick-start the American roots rock scene in the early '80s with the band the Blasters, and has since gone on to a career as a solo performer, songwriter, producer, and sideman that's been as well respected as it is eclectic. Born in Downey, California in 1955, Alvin was raised by a family of music fans, and as teenagers Dave and his older brother Phil immersed themselves in blues, rockabilly, and vintage country sounds, collecting rare records and attending nightclub performances by the likes of T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner, and Lee Allen. Like many fans, the Alvin brothers wanted to play music influenced by the sounds they loved, and in 1979 they formed the Blasters with fellow Downey residents Bill Bateman and John Bazz. Combining the revved-up energy of punk rock with an enthusiastic embrace of classic American sounds, the Blasters became a sensation in Los Angeles and won an enthusiastic cult following across the United States and Europe. However, the Blasters were unable to translate their critical respect and enthusiastic fan base into mainstream success, and in 1986 Dave left the band. Phil Alvin continued to front various lineups of the Blasters, and in 2002 Dave joined forces with Phil, Bill Bateman, and John Bazz for a short series of Blasters reunion shows.

While playing with the Blasters, Alvin had already displayed a broad range of enthusiasms with two side projects, Chris D.'s literate goth-punk collective the Flesh Eaters and the Knitters, an acoustic ensemble in which Alvin performed vintage country and folk numbers with John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X. Shortly after leaving the Blasters, Alvin joined X as lead guitarist after the departure of Billy Zoom; however, Alvin amicably left the group to work on a solo project shortly after the recording sessions for their album See How We Are. Alvin's first solo album, entitled Romeo's Escape in the United States and Every Night About This Time in England, added a purer country influence along with a larger side portion of the blues; while the album was critically well received, it didn't fare well in the marketplace, and Alvin was dropped by his American record label, Columbia. Alvin suffered health problems that sidelined him for a while, except for a wild tour with friends Mojo Nixon and Country Dick Montana as the Pleasure Barons, which was described as "a Las Vegas revue from acts who aren't going to be asked to play Vegas." (A live album was released of a second Pleasure Barons tour in 1993.)

In 1989, Dwight Yoakam scored a hit on the country charts with Alvin's song "Long White Cadillac," and Alvin used the royalties to start work on his second solo set, Blue Blvd. Released by the California-based roots-music label Hightone Records, Blue Blvd received enthusiastic reviews and sold well enough to reestablish Alvin as a significant artist in the roots rock scene. After releasing Museum of Heart in 1993, Alvin began to turn his attention to acoustic music with 1994's King of California, and over the next several years Alvin moved back and forth between hard-edged roots rock and more introspective acoustic material that still honored his influences (and allowed him to display a greater range as a vocalist). In 2000, Alvin recorded a collection of traditional folk and blues classics, Public Domain: Songs from the Wild Land, which earned him a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. In 2004, Alvin signed with the upstart roots rock label Yep Roc Records, which released his album Ashgrove, a low-key but hard-edged set of blues and rock. It was followed in 2006 by West of the West and a year later by Live from Austin TX (a performance on Austin City Limits from 1999).

He changed his approach a bit with Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women, which was issued by Yep Roc in 2009, by recording with five women, and it seemed to revitalize him. Eleven Eleven, Alvin's first solo studio album of original material in some seven years, appeared in 2011, again on Yep Roc. Eleven Eleven included a duet with Phil Alvin on the tune "What's Up with Your Brother?," and in 2014 Dave and Phil recorded a full album together for the first time since Dave left the Blasters; Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy was a celebration of one of their first and strongest musical influences that found them both in strong form.

When not busy recording his own music, Alvin has also worked as a producer for several other roots-oriented acts, including Tom Russell, the Derailers, and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, and he has collaborated with rockabilly legend Sonny Burgess. As a sideman, Alvin has recorded sessions with the likes of Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Little Milton, Katy Moffatt, and Syd Straw. ~ Mark Deming & Steve Leggett, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive (Single)

Comments

I would posit that he's one of the premier songwriters of his generation, along with Paul Westerberg and Robert Polllard.
addiemaupi
OMG! He is so awesome I love him so much my dad works at Yep roc with him and I was able to meet him!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! So amazing!!
Don't read this because it actually works.You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life.Tomorro w will be the best day if your life.However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days.Now you've started reading so don't stop.This so scary put this on least 5 songs in 143 minutes.When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters.This is so scary because it actually works.
Thanks for the great show at the Sportmens Mon June 3rd Mr Dave.
Have you ever been down on the river bed?
lastgasp61
1968 is an amazing song. The wasting of so many lives...
rppacker
Sounds like Tom Rush
I see Dave Alvin every chance I can get. He's one of those amazing artists whose recorded music is (almost) as great as his live shows. It's usually one or the other, I've noticed, with many of my favorites.
I saw Dave Alvin about month ago at the High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI. Didn't know what to expect because I hadn't heard any of his stuff since the Blaster days in the 80's. He puts on a great live show. His song writing is extraordinar y . An American Blues treasure!
kristenrocks i n g s
only thing better than music is live music
Thanks Pandora.... I have a new life!!!
There are none better than this "king of california", he is truly one honest and real songwriter.M y peronal favorite and awesome in the clubs.
Awesome live and an outstanding songwriter, Dave Alvin is a American treasure. To me he defines Americana, which I believe is the art of storytelling through song. There are many other in a similar vein, but few do it better. It too a while for Dave to find his singing voice. Romeo's Escape will make you cringe on occasion, but the strength of the stories carries the album. Otherwise, the rest of his albums are strong.
Love him :D
Dave Alvin is one of the greatest living American songswriters . His songs, including such perfect ones as "Fourth of July," will last for generations.
love it
Saw him play this last year with the Guilty Women. Was wonderful.
mmcdill
Ashgrove is one of my all-time favorite cds. Great music, great stories, great songs -- every one.
Dave Alvin and his friends kick a**!!!
Dave is an awesome live performer, he plays a mean guitar and his songs tell great stories.

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