Dave Alvin Q&A

Click to send your questions. We will then do our best to get them answered and will post the responses here as they come in.

Blasters Quesions Here

Questions Answered:

This page is getting a little long, so from now on, I'll put the latest answers on a clickable link.

11 Mar 2000 Additions

29 Jan 2000 Additions

14 Jan 2000 Additions

The 5 June 98 Additions

Here are the 25May98 Additions

Added 1Dec97

From: Derek Anderson

I grew up in Bellflower (near Downey, for the non-SoCal folks), and I worked at Licorice Pizza Records in Bellflower during your Blasters' In-Store appearance way back, and all of you autographed my copy of the first LP. I saw you at Jack's Sugar Shack, and you guys were fantastic. Most recently, I happened to be at McCabe's one afternoon about 2 or 3 weeks ago, just slacking off from my work, and you walked in. I didn't wanna bug you, so I just said "Hey Dave, how ya' doin?" as you left. I feel that so much of what you've written speaks directly to me, and for me. Wanda and Duane is particularly poignant. I grew up next to the 605 freeway, and can feel a tremendous sense of place in so much of your material. You are the greatest, and I hope to see you live again soon.

Dave Responds:

Thanks! I remember the Licorice Pizza Record Store - Instore very well. And were you the guy that went to the bar across the street with me and Phil afterwards? Thanks for the kind and supportive words about my songs. No matter where I go- or what I do- I take Downey, Bellflower and Long Beach with me! See ya on the 605!


From: "howard13"

This just a belated "Happy B-Day To Dave!

Dave Responds:

A belated thank you from me!


From: David Hiett

I heard that Dave did a cover of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Love Theme. If this is true, is it available on any of his albums. I heard a clip and thought it was great. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Dave Responds:


Yes I did the end theme song for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie! With the Guilty Men! No it's not on any of my records. You have to rent the movie and play the end real loud- because you can barely hear it.


From: George Rollins

hey dave, on 10/30/94 you performed on mountain stage for the second time. i greatly enjoyed your performance... also on the bill was hasil adkins. i was curious to know if you observed his performance, and what your impression of him was, good or bad...

also: is it true, as i heard lou whitney claim, that you fired the skeletons as your band, because he shoved you (inadvertently, he says) over a monitor one evening? thanks...

Dave Responds:

That was my favorite appearance on Mountain Stage and I think Hasil is great! He and I spent that afternoon smoking cigarettes together on the loading dock because you can't smoke in the theater! I enjoyed talking to him!

No it's not true. He did shove me over a monitor-inadvertently-but I started the Guilty Men because I wanted my own band. But The Skeletons are still the greatest rock 'n' roll band!


From: Eric Karten

I vaguely recall seeing Lowman Paulings name in the liner notes to one of your records (or perhaps in some other document associated with you). Having once read something about your youthful dealings with R&B veterans, I wonder if you actually knew the man. He's rarely remembered now (apart from Steve Cropper's occasional citations of his influence), despite his genius. If you did actually encounter him, can you share any remembrance?

Also, years ago, during the old Barndance at the Palomino, you played a tune by Johnny "Guitar" Watson, about which I inquired afterward at the bar. As you began to explain the difference between your rendition and the original, I was dragged away. (Pardon the rudeness.) I've since been curious. Any idea what song this might have been and what you would have wanted to tell a stranger about it?

Dave Responds:

I put Lowman Paulings' name in the Thank You list of Blue Blvd. Not because I knew him (I wish I had) but because I love his guitar playing and songwriting! He's a very very very very under rated guy!

Yeah the Johnny Guitar Watson song was Gangster of Love (my version is avail on The Pleasure Barons - Live in Las Vegas CD). What I did was mix Watson's song with an Otis Rush -Magic Sam- minor blues feel. Pauling, Watson, Otis Rush, Magic Sam are some of my guitar gods!


From: Patrick O'Keefe

My wife Julie and I are big fans. I was introduced to your post-Blasters music by Blue Blvd., and my wife was introduced when we saw you shortly thereafter at the Birchmere (the Skeletons opened -- our first intro. to them -- and then backed you). My questions. First, any chance you'll tour with the Skeletons again? If not, can you at least encourage them to come to the Birchmere? Second, we can't wait for you to play the new Birchmere. We think you'll love it, and we know we'll love the show. Keep it up! Thanks!

Dave Responds:

I love the Skeletons and you can never tell what's gonna happen... (they are the back up band for the new Robbie Fulks CD, which is my favorite CD of the Year!) And it looks like I might be playing the Birchmere in Early 1998 with Tom Russell, Chris Smither and Ramblin Jack Elliott! Say hello and thanks to your wife!


From: Mike Murphy

My wife and I saw you in Minneapolis. You played at First Avenue aand opened for Dave Edmunds. To be honest I had been a huge Edmunds/Rockpile fan for years and much to my chagrin, I had never heard of you. Well, Edmunds was a major let down and you just rocked the house! I have neverasked/demanded my money back from a show and if you had not opened for them, it would have been a Murphy first. The normally reseved Minnesota crowd was dancing and hollering and just generally having a really good time (and it was too early for must of us to be drunk) So Question #1 is, When are ya coming back? I personally will guarentee 20 new Dave Alvin/Blasters fans. Second what was the inspiration for Haley's Comet. A pretty movin' tune for a depressing end to a good story. Let me know!!

Dave Responds:

I remember that show! We really had a good time seeing how we had just flown in New Orleans and were exhausted and my amp blew up before the show! I think we gave Dave Edmonds a run for his money! I should be up there later this year! Look forward to seeing you. Haley's Comet was sadly based on the last years of Bill Haley's life as you know it. It's one of those "Don't let this happen to you" songs.


Added 1Oct97

An Open Letter From Dave

Thank you for doing this webpage, it means the world to me and The Blasters. I just wanted to apologize to all those folks whose questions that took so long to be answered. Thanks and see you on the road...Dave Alvin

[Actually, the long delay for un-answered questions is my fault. Sorry y'all, and sorry Dave.]

From: Dan

[I lost the question to this one, but here is Dave's answer, nonetheless]

Hey Dan
Glad you enjoyed the Chicago show, it was an honor playing there. I chose "Seeds" with out any prompting from the record company because I thought I could rearrange it so it would sound like me and I like the lyrics. I think it came out pretty cool.


From: Everett Fisher

Being one of the recently converted I'd like you to know how much I enjoy your music! The big question is when you will be playing Houston again? Thanks for the info.

Dear Everett,
I love Houston, I love playing in Houston, drinking in Houston , sleeping in Houston, and eating in Houston and I plan to be doing that in Spring 98. I will be driving down Telephone Road in a big Caddy! - hope to you see you!

From: Ed Conley

Hi Dave!! I'm from Lincoln Ne. (The Zoo Bar). I was looking your Q@A the other day and noticed that a lot of the establisments that you play at are much bigger than what we have here in lincoln. What keeps you coming back? Don't get me wrong, I love he fact that you play here and i do my best to get as many people to come down and watch you as possible, but I always seemed to wonder when this good thing is going to end. Everybody that I play your stuff for always seem to say the same thing "why the hell would somebody this good play here?" I'm not saying everyone else sucks, but when their music takes off, bigger venues seem to follow. Oh and by the way, why did Billy Zoom leave "X"? Take care and you rule!!

Hey Ed!
I dig Lincoln and I love the funky atmosphere of the Zoo Bar. Thanks for bringing follks to the shows - I owe you a beer for that. Then to be honest I have no idea why Billy Zoom left X.


From: Jordan Curtis

Thanks for the info on the guitar tabs. My friend kept pounding away at Dark Night for over 4 months until he picked up by ear. Since Ry Cooder did the music score for Streets of Fire and he is basically American music, like you guys, did you ever consider workin' with him? That would be a great team in my opinion. Did you have any say in wether or not Dark Night could be in Dusk Till Dawn or was it Slash records' (Now Warner?) decision?

I think Ry Cooder is so great that the American Gov. should give him $ just for getting out of bed. I would be too imitated to ever work with him. He's a genius! As far as Dark Knight being in Dusk to Dawn, I believe it was Terentino's and Rodriguez's ides to have the song in the he movie. Stay Cool!


From: Kevin Meyer,

Dave, when ya' coming back to play Jersey man. Maxwell's (where you once played the best gig I've ever seen, Romeo's Escape tour) is calling and I need to see you live bad. The last time you came to NYC, it was the same week Los Lobos was in and I had make $$$ choices. But I did scratch it together to get the live gig cd. I got goosebumps man. Need to see it up close though. Send help, before my job kills me.

WOW you saw Romeo's Escape gig at Maxwells! I would love to play back at Maxwell's but as far as I know -they haven't asked. I'm real happy you dig the live CD. and I will try my best. to be there before your job kills you-keep rockin'.


From: Jason Barker

I know that Dave and Dwight Yoakam have done some work together. Any possibility of a more substantial effort together?

Hey Jason

(About Dwight) I'd be game. I don't think that he would want to ruin his career working with a bum like me-but- you never know...


From: Bev. Butterfield

So, Dave, if you do record/produce Ronnie Dawson, do you think you could have him do "Bucketful" by Jay, friend of Donnie & Lou's? Ronnie could really do the hollerin and it is such a terrific song! Great to see you at Sweetwater in December, come back soon.

Hey Bev
If I ever produce Ronnie Dawson- The Skeletons would be a great band to back him up I am also sure -that Donnie and Lou would pull out a few songs like "Bucketfull" See you soon at Sweetwater!


From: Gary Stern

I just wanted to get word to Dave that his recent show at the Turning Point in Piermont, NY, was amazing. My wife and I (sitting at the small table near the stage) were enthralled. Just wanted to say thanks and ask if Dave is going to be playing anywhere in New York any time soon. I noticed a reference to a May festival in Rochester. Any other shows coming? Thanks again for the TP show, Dave. It more than made up for when you rescheduled at the Mercury Lounge in NYC a few months ago and I missed you there. See ya.

Hey Gary
Thanks for coming to the Turning Point. I am glad you and your wife enjoyed it. I will be playing in NY -in late Spring and early summer of 98. Hope to see you at one of those.


From: Jay Marvin

Dave: enjoyed having you on my radio show when I was in Chicago. When you going to come through Denver and how about another radio interview sometime??? Oh, anymore books of poetry coming out??????

Hey Jay
I enjoyed the Chicago radio show-sorry there wasn't any time to do the Denver show. Book #2:The Crazy Ones" out in late winter. I hope you're enjoying your new Rocky Mountain digs.


From: Anne Sneddon

I have a question about the song "Marie Marie." The lyrics remind me of that part in Kerouac's "On the Road" where Sal Paradise is picking cotton in Cebanal with the Mexican girl and has to say goodbye to her and go back on the road. Was the song influenced by the book at all, or is it just a beautiful similarity?

Dear Anne
I think it was just a beautiful similarity -I like Kerouac -so who knows! Did I meet you at the Ashgrove?


From: firevein

I love your guitar playing. Besides your own records, what records would you suggest, to absorb the same styles you did?

I recommend - Lightin' Hopkins, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Magic Sam and Otis Rush and any Sun Records from the early to late 50s.


From: Dave Pasternak

I saw a listing for two albums by a band called White Trash. One of the album listings included songwriter credits and who played what. Dave Alvin is listed as playing harp on the album and all the songs have a writing or co-writing credit of "Alvin" (no first name given in this listing). What's the story on this band and Dave's involvement?

Hey Dave,
There is another Dave Alvin somewhere out there- (it ain't me!) I don't know him. But it's been mentioned to me before- and I am also a horrible harp player.


From: P.S Curtainrod

I was glad to see that you used Ted Roddy on your Interstate City album. He is such talented person who has had a hell of time getting noticed. At least the people in Austin recognize talent when they hear it! Any plans to work with him again?

BTW- I have turned my mother into a raving Dave Alvin fan. She just can't speak highly enough of the King of California album. She keeps swiping my copy!

Hey PS Curtainrod!
I love Ted Roddy, I agree -he's a talented person who deserves more recognition. He's playing harp on the song, "Seeds" that I recorded for the new Bruce Springsteen tribute CD on Capital Records. BTW-send my love to your mama!


From: Jeff Morris

I've read some of your thoughts about leaving the music business a few years back and I've read your latest book of poetry which really sheds some light on what that must have been like. I'm just wondering if you have an appreciation of just how much your music means to me and countless others? When I say that your music means a lot, I mean to say that you do. Few writers or musicians have the ability to effect people in an emotional and intellectual manner...Among them, Buckowski,Tom Russell,Steve Earle,and you. Now I know these things don't put food on the table, but they do create legends. I hope you can take some solace in that, and from the way things look for you, hopefully the food on the table isn't an issue any longer either. Hang in there,I need at least 10 more great records from you...

hey Jeff
I can't thank you enough- for your inspirational and kind message. I take solace in that. Yeah, there's usually food on the table and at least ten more records.


From anonymous:

i'm french and i am a big fan of you (very big). do you think you can play on stage in france one day ?

Dear Anonymous
I might be producing the next Kandy Cane CD in Paris so who knows - I may just do a gig.


From: James Deveney

My name is James Deveney & I played in the band "the T-Lords". we opened for you & the Guilty Men at the dingo bar in Albuquerque, N.M. We spoke Briefly & you were so nice to all of us (thank you). I am in a new band ( the T-LORDS split up). It's a rockabilly-swingin' band called "THE HELLTONES". I apreciate the opprtunity we weregivin to open for you & hope to do it again in the future. will you be back this way any time soon? One can only hope!!!!

Hey James I remember you guys from the Dingo Bar. Sorry you broke up. but the best of luck, with the new-swangin' Helltones. and I hope we play together soon in the future. I will be in Albu in 98


From: Thom Wodock

Dave, I'd really love to hear an album by you and Mr. John Doe. You and he had a great "duet" on "Longer Than I Thoght". I think you guys could put out a album that would rival Dylan and Cash on Nashville Skyline or ??? ever thought about workin with Los Lobos? Also what do you think of the Mekons and their other projects like the Waco Brothers, Sally Timms, etc. Seeing you with the Blasters and the Knitters at a few shows in Santa Barbara (the Casa de la Raza, Lobero Theater, and some club) were wonderful memories. Also you with X at the Ritz in NYC with David Bowie and Mick Jagger watching in the balcony. I played your record quite often on the "mega" radio station WDVR out of Sergeantsville NJ.

Hey Thom,

Whole album of me and Doe? It would be great. I don't think it would rival Dylan and Cash but it would be fun. Unfortunately as is the case with Los Lobos, time and schedules pretty much make it impossible. The Mekons- are alright with me , The old Blasters and Knitters shows were wonderful memories for me. David Bowie and Mick Jagger were in the balcony ! At the Ritz X show?! I never knew that My big chance to meet big rock stars and I blew it. Oh well.


Added 14Dec96

from Jordan Curtis pertaining to guitar tabs:

Dave: No I don't have any guitar tabs published except for the following: American Music and Marie Marie and they are in a book called Genuine Rockabilly Guitar Hits from Hal Leonard Publishing Corp. Also avail: Long White Caddilac (could be in Dwight Yoakam's book) avail through Contemporary Country (Hal Leonard Publishing Corp.) No tabulature for Specifically Dark Night.

from Phil Charmon pertaining to touring Down Under:

Dave: Hopefully I will again but nothing's firm as of yet. I am glad you like the new CD and the next CD will be accoustic - maybe, maybe not. Can't wait to jam with you again!

from Wayne Stevens pertaining to the Blasters and Skeletons and touring in Syracuse:

Dave: I am a big fan of The Skeletons too. The Greatest unkown band in the Rock-n-roll world. I have no plans to work with The Skeletons in the furture but you never can tell. But to answer your question about playing in Syracuse, the nearest I will be is in Rodchester NY at a festival in May 1997.

from C. Breston re: Bruce Springsteen:

Dave:Yeah I heard that he was using King of California before a lot of his shows. But I only met Bruce once - back in the Blasters' days - he came to one of our shows. He sent a fan letter to Tom Russell (HighTone Labelmate and friend and co-songwriter of Dave's) recently, so who knows maybe I will get one too. Of all of Bruce's stuff I am most partial to is Nebraska and Tom Joad.

from Gary Thorn asking if Dave ever gets tired of playing the same old songs:

Dave: This may sound stupid but I never get tired of playing my songs. Most of them I can't believe I wrote. If I seemed tired that night during the Fourth Of July I was probably just plain tired. In the future I will try not look so tired. My apologies.

from Colin McKraig: Dave: Back issues of Caffiene are available for $5 each:
Caffiene c/o 
P O Box 4231-306 
Woodland Hills CA 91365
The poem I read is also included in my book of poems called: Any Rough Times are Now Behind You I have no problem with you using the purple image as long as it's in a poem about playing chess with Marcel Duchamp.

Added 22Aug96

I wonder if there are any shows of yours out on video? -Ziggy Klemetz

DAVE: No, I never really thought of it. I'm sure there's a bootleg around. We were filmed last year at this festival called the Fat Fry up in Santa Cruz. I heard it went out over the internet but I don't know if you can video tape that. Nobody has ever approached me with a deal and Hightone has never done anything like that on their own. Maybe if the live album does Okay it might be a good idea.

Tell me what do you think about the Stray Cats and Brian Setzer himself. -Manny the Gnoom

DAVE: Brian is really good and Lee Rockers band is pretty good. The feuding was blown out of proportion. I think it was more real for them because we said some pretty nasty things. But we said them in a Downey kind of way, kidding, but you cant do that with strangers. Even back then I admired the Stray Cats and Dave Edmunds production.

I really enjoy sitting on the back porch and playing your songs. When you are in Washington D.C. next time let me know, my wife and I will prepare some home cooking for you and your band. -Tom Smith, Wash. D.C.

DAVE: (laughing) Okay we'll be there in October. Thanks

I have been listening to X's See How We Are album (excellent writing on 4th of July, by the way) and was wondering whether that was your lead guitar on Anyone Can Fill Your Shoes? If it was what kind of effect did you use? I hear it a few other places in the album too, it sounds menacingly cool! -Randy Jacoby

DAVE: Yeah (question 1). It probably was a chorus box on that. Back in those days I did use effects pedals which I don't use now.

Will you do more books of poetry and who are your favorite poets and writers? -Jay Marvin

DAVE: I just did a poetry reading in San Francisco (July 25) and they had two other writers. A guy named Don Bajema who has a couple of books on Henry Rollins press and he is great, really inspirational. And an old beat poet named Frank Loria. The woman who runs the readings series said I set the record for the most obscenities used in one reading so far (laughing)! Yeah I will do another book of poems and have it out maybe next year.

Not to be looked upon as promotion for any particular establishment but are there any particular clubs in the states or Europe that you really enjoy playing? -Mike Lynam Spring Heights NJ

DAVE: Oh Yeah! Well in the states I love the Birchmere in Alexandria VA. I love Fitzgerald's and Shuba's in Chicago. There are so many. I like places that treat musicians like their humans. Overseas I love a club in Zurich called the Cafe International. I loved playing the Weavers Arms in Dublin. Over here there are so many. I like the First Ave. in Minneapolis cause the guy that runs it is a true music fan. When the owners are music fans you can tell the difference. I love Sons of Herman Hall in Dallas, Satellite in Houston, Continental club, La Zona Rosa and Antones in Austin, Club Congress in Tucson, Slims in San Francisco, I could go on for hours.

Tennessee Border was great. Is there a chance you might ever make another disc or any other project with Sonny? -Ryan Cole Bloomington IN

DAVE: I'd love to. He just did a record with rounder. It was good but I prefer mine. The guitars were bigger sounding but his new one is a little toned down, maybe it will get him some new fans. There are a lot of people I would like to work with. I love to do another with Sonny, one with Hank Ballard. I wanted to do one with Lee Allen before he passed away. I don't think Ronnie Dawson needs my help but I would love to be in the studio with him. If I was selling millions of records they would do it in a drop of the hat. Sonny was a Blaster fan but he had Jack and Mary Smith telling him that I was a Okay guy. Some of the older artists are very suspicious because they've been burned so many times. So yeah, I'd love to work with Sonny again.

How many live dates do you do a year? How much time do you spend at home? Do you own a Home? Hal@aol.com

DAVE: Don't own a home, wish I did. I'm home about 3 months of a year and I don't know how many gigs. For the past couple years I'm either touring or producing somebody's record. It plays havoc with your personal life but on the other hand it gives you lots of stuff for songs.

I hope you vaguely remember me. I was the piano player for the Roustabouts with Gary Setzer. Anyway the reason I'm trying to contact you is my band is finishing up a CD and I was hoping I could forward you a copy and see if you had any advice on where I could go with it. I hope all is well with you and I hope you play Portland OR soon. -Rich Lander

DAVE: Yeah I remember you very well I thought you were a very good piano player. If you want to send it to me just send it to Hightone and Ill get it. With Big Sandy I had always been a fan and I was talking to the manager and they couldn't get a deal so I took them to Hightone and after a little arm twisting Hightone said yeah. With the Derailers, I walked into the Continental club when I was recording the Gaffney record and they were playing. Within 5 minutes I thought I could produce these guys. I could make a really good record with these guys! It just kind of happens. Unfortunately I can't walk into every Bar room, I wish I could but I'm definitely looking for stuff to produce. Send your tape to any and every record company from independents like Upstart, Hightone, Watermelon, Flying Fish, and Rounder. You can try a major label but I don't know, I think it's best to get it out on your own. The main thing to do when your playing this music is to bash it out in bars. Good Luck

(Editors note- A few posts have come in from bands inquiring about having Dave produce their music. If you want Dave to hear your tape you can send it in care of Hightone records, although the best chance is to go to Dave's live shows and talk to him in person.)

What are your comments on the internet in general and what feelings do you have about your song lyrics being duplicated on the net? -Linda Beerstecher

DAVE: I have never been on it. The Skeletons did it while we were over some guys house in St. Louis and they were having a ball. My brother probably knows more about that stuff. I have a computer that my publisher gave me to type up my poems and thats about as computer literate as I get. If I wasn't so busy I actually would like to get to take a computer class to figure all that stuff out. As far as posting my lyrics that's great. Stuff like that really touches me.

Tell everyone the History behind that beat up yellow strat on all of the albums. -Lips

DAVE: It's a 1964 Strat all original except for the bridge. I bought in 1983 right after we recorded Non Fiction. The reason I bought it was because it was the exact same yellow with red pick guard as my Mustang and it has been my main guitar ever since. That's my baby.

How do you feel about fans who bring recorders into your shows and tape the concerts? -Joe Schwind

DAVE: I don't mind it. I'm not putting records out every year and occasionally there will be songs in a set that won't be on a record. With the Blasters we had a similar attitude much to the chagrin of our manager. In fact I did a show in a club in Berkeley CA called Freight & Salvage (June 27 1996) and there was a guy who recorded it and asked me when I walked in and I said Yeah. It was an acoustic show I was doing with Kelly Joe Phelps who's a slide guitar virtuoso. Then after the show I really wanted to get a copy of it because it was one of the better acoustic shows I've ever done. Kelly played half the set with me and we did a couple of songs that we would never do again. We did a version of You Are My Sunshine as a gag but it came out pretty good. It was a wonderful show I wish I made a record of it. The guy said he was going to come to the poetry reading but I didn't see him. I think he gets the newsletter (American Music) so maybe he will contact me.

Added 2Jul96

For Dave Alvin:Have you ever seen the Blasters airing of MTV's Live At The Ritz. You seemed to be trying stuff out from Hardline including a lovely version of Little Honey. What Year was that? -Kris Schell, San Francisco Ca.

DAVE: 1985. It was a pretty good show but my guitar wasn't very loud. Whatever sound man mixed it, he mixed my guitar down. It looks pretty good and it was around the time we were at our peak. I watched it a couple of times but its hard to look at stuff because it reminds me of Lee (Allen).


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