Dave Alvin Rumors and Sightings

A story from Cleveland, 1997

I was in Cleveland Ohio in 1997. Dave was playing Wilberts in the flats. Having lived in California for many years I've seen Dave play many times solo and with the Blasters. Before the show I had a chance to talk to dave and he told me they had played 5 or 6 nights in a row and they were beat. I thought to myself this will most likely be a short set. When the band took the stage Dave told the audience what he told me,Then asked what we wanted, the set list show or we could just call out requests. You know what we chose! Dave and the band tore that place down for almost 3 hours! He played every song we asked for and then some. Forget the grammys Dave should be on mount rushmore!

Submitted by Steve Romick

Dave Alvin: a Family Affair

Dave was playing off the beaten path. On the outskirts of San Antonio Texas, Ciblo Creek Country Club, (more like a dance hall). My wife, who listens to Tony Bennett, Nat Cole, well you get the picture - neo/conservative - went to pick me up from work. I had seen the ad for the Dave Alvin show, but lo and behold my wife picked me up with our 4 daughters (ages 5-13). Granted this was a school night, yet we showed up for the show, and NO ONE wanted to leave. My kids even posed for a picture after the show with Dave, (very gracious) and they still talk about this event. My kids even say that they "know" THE DAVE ALVIN to their school friends. Yet the gist of this story is the Musical Floodgates at the Martinez household was broken, "Thanks Dave"! Instead of singing the "weekly-one-hit-wonders" our MiniVan blares out THE KING OF CALIFORNIA. We will drive any where in Texas to see you perform again.

Submitted by Jesse Martinez

A Virgin Dave Experience in SF

I saw Dave Alvin close up at the Guinness Fleadh [ed:???] in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, June 5, 1999. It was my first hearing of anything he's done, although my brother in Florida has been telling me about him for quite some time. He was in a tent off to the side of the main stage and I managed to work my way up to the front, where I saw him do about 6 songs. He calls it folk music, loud and quiet. I'd say it's a mix of country and blues. He's got a good, deep country voice that sounded really sharp through the p.a. system they had. They had really good lighting, with moving colored lights that followed the soloes and kept time with the music. He played some hot country and blues licks on the guitar and had a couple of really good sidemen on piano and pedal steel/lap steel/mandolin/electric & acoustic guitars. He'd tune his guitar in the middle of a song when those guys were soloing, so there was no dead time between songs. He'd go right from one tune to another without a pause. His act was polished and tight from no doubt long years on the road. His lyrics had good characters and stories in them. The music had interesting progressions, with tasty fills and hot licks. It was good to finally catch up with another American musician/storyteller who loomed large in his legend and delivered the goods onstage.

I'm sold! Count me another foot soldier in the army of Dave ravers.

Submitted by Dan Cunningham

No, it's not the new Poetry book, but Dave will be at a book signing nonetheless

Dave will be playing at a Gerald Haslam book signing at Book Soup in LA on June 15th, 1999. The title of the book is Workin' Man Blues: Country Music in California and Dave and the Blasters have a strong presence in this book - with quotes and reference throughout. There is a San Francisco Examiner Review of the book on the internet.

Dave to appear on Real Audio Internet Radio Interview 10Apr99

Dave Alvin taped a segment for Canadien radio some time ago. The show will air Saturday 4/10.

Here is what the Radio Sonic radio station reports: Dave Alvin fans anywhere in the world can hear his session on RealAudio, this Saturday night April 10, 1999, at approximately 8:10PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME (tune in at 8:00PM to be sure- there will be CBC news on from 8 to 8:05PM). To listen on Real Audio, go to www.radio.cbc.ca and click on Radio Two. We'll be there!

Dont forget Dave Alvin's Austin City Limits will air the same night on select PBS stations across the nation. It will be a full night of Dave Alvin.

SPECIAL NOTE FROM BILLY DAVIS: Will anyone have the means to tape this off real audio? I will not be able to get it and of course I would love to hear a tape of it. If you have any leads, let me know. Thanks again.

Submitted by Billy Davis

Girl saves money and meets Dave at a Bughouse 5 Gig

Dave Alvin recently played the folk festival in Vancouver. I didn't go, it cost a whole lotta money, of which I am less than blessed with. The same night, I did go see a local band called Bughouse 5. (Guest list, drank water all night, smoked sparingly.) The singer of Bughouse 5 had also played at the folk festiv al that day. He loves Dave and invited him to see the show. It was a dark and stormy bar. A lone (actually he was with a friend) man sat in brooding, cowboy silence ( actually he seemed quite amiable ). It was, in all his faded denim glory, Dave Alvin.

As soon as word passed around that he was in the bar, he was slowly swarmed with rockabilly posers who all wanted to talk about the Blasters. He patiently sto od for photo after photo, signed autographs and was absolutely a gentleman. As for me, I was shy, but when finally introduced to the man I adore, managed to retain my equilibrium, shake his hand and say with all sincerity "It's an honor to meet you." When you fall in love with someone's writing, you hope that the real person is worthy of your intellectual pangs of longing. Usually they aren't. Dave Alvin is.

Submitted by an anonymous Web Fan

Dave Alvin on Austin City Limits

January 29, 1999
Dave Alvin and the Guilty men were invited to tape an episode of the prestigious concert TV show, AUSTIN CITY LIMITS. The PBS broadcast series has aired for 24 years and has featured concerts by many renowned blues, country and folk artists. The taping took place before a live audience of 400 at the KLRU TV studios in Austin Texas. Dave's first impression of playing the ACL show was, "Fear and panic! It's like playing the Grand Ole Opry or the Apollo. It's an institution."

Dave Alvin had already been in Austin most of January and February producing the new Derailers major label debut album. With the pressure of producing and the ACL taping, Dave brought Chris Gaffney to town to lift their spirits up. Chris is another West Coast roots rock singer On HighTone records (Dave produced his last CD) and has a reputation for providing a million laughs. Dave Alvin often introduces him to the audience as, "One of our best friends in all the world." After the taping Dave recalled, "Chris has a stand-up comedians perfect timing."

The band arrived at the studio at 11 am to do a sound check and full run through of the set. Equipment was provided by the studio. Joe Terry was happy to play a Hammond B3 organ with a rotating Leslie speaker cabinet. Joining Dave and the Guilty Men on a few songs would be Austin based harmonica player Ted Roddy. Ted played on Dave's live Interstate City CD on JUBILEE TRAIN. Tonight he would reprise his part on the song. They started the rehearsal going over the songs Roddy would play on. JUBILEE TRAIN was perfect. Next Dave had a surprise, changing the set list, adding BARN BURNING. Ted wasn't familiar with the song so Dave played and sang the song on an acoustic guitar off mic. In only a few minutes they had it down. The band played KING OF CALIFORNIA, BARN BURNING, and what Dave coined "The American Trilogy": JUBILEE TRAIN. After running through the whole song list, the last song was to be AMERICAN MUSIC. But last minute Dave changed to MARIE MARIE and called out to the producers, "Would it be a problem if we got another human up on the stage?" Dave then yelled, "Hey Gaffney. You're playing accordion, get up here." So Chris played and sounded great. He played with song before on Dave's Italian tour, so he knew the arrangement. After the song, I said to Gaffney, "Did you know Dave was gonna do that?" He said very sincerely with a pair of raised eyebrows, "I had no idea at all!!"

Through this web site and Dave Alvin's AMERICAN MUSIC newsletter a lottery determined 8 lucky fans who were able to travel from all over the country to see the historic taping.

Show time came and Monte Montgomery opened the show playing for an hour. Dave was impressed with Monte's playing and stated to the audience, "He may be better but I'm louder. (laughing)" Each band member was really decked out. Gregory had a 1940's style suit complete with hat and cigar (Unlit of course). Dave wore his traditional black jacket but was wearing a turquoise shirt. It's rare to see Dave with some color on him. Rick wore a jacket with Native American design accents on the back and sleeves. Chris Gaffney probably looked the best of all. He had a big white cowboy hat with shades and a cool gray- green suit. Joe was partly responsible for Chris's choice, "I found that suit for Gaffney AND convinced him that he needed to have it, which the owner of the shop then GAVE to him, despite the $60 price tag."

Dave kept the mood light by making jokes to the audience. He talked about having the make up applied and how he was told if you have to wipe your face - Dab. Don't rub. Everybody laughed about that. Joe said sarcastically, "I'm thinking of wearing heavy make-up that gives you a creepy looking tan, all the time now."

They started with KING OF CALIFORNIA which has become a signature song for Dave. He greeted the audience saying, "It's an honor for a bunch of bar room guys like us to be on Austin City Limits." Next Dave introduced Teddy Roddy, "One of the best harmonica players in the known universe," playing BARN BURNING. Ted left the stage and they went into MARY BROWN, BORDER RADIO, DRY RIVER, and OUT IN CALIFORNIA. After 2 false starts on this song Dave said, "I'm glad this isn't live TV." In-between he said, "I hear you have free beer here. Is there any of that free beer left?" Everybody laughed and Joe Terry later joked that he wished no one told Dave that he was allowed to restart songs like that because it was too nerve racking. ABILENE, JUBILEE TRAIN, and BLACK JACK DAVID flowed right along. 4TH OF JULY was next and took two takes when Dave thought he heard a defective speaker in his stage monitor. The stage hands changed the cabinet while Dave and the boys took it all back to the barroom, launching into what Dave cued them as SHUFFLE IN C. After a minute of that they played a complete take of 4TH OF JULY. MARIE MARIE finished off the set with Ted Roddy and Chris Gaffney joining in. Dave's thinking was that, "Having Ted and Chris at the end gave it a celebratory vibe." It was a rocking finish, probably way heavier and louder than the ACL people are used to. One of the final stories Dave told to the crowd was, "I remember being very young and sitting at the kitchen table in Downey California watching a show with Townes Van Zandt and Lightnin Hopkins. It was the first time I saw Austin City Limits. So having seen them on this stage, it's now very intimidating to be up here."

After the taping the band sat down watching a rough directors mix of the set. Dave decided on the songs for the 30 minute segment: KING OF CA, BORDER, DRY RIVER, OUT IN CA, BLACK JACK, and MARIE MARIE. Joe Terry after watching said, "I was surprised to see that TV actually adds about 35 to 40 pounds on to a usually fit and slender person such as me!!" Dave had a mixed view of playing ACL. He said, "It's an institution. On the other hand I felt we deserved to be there. So I felt cocky and totally intimidated at the same time."

Dave had now finished the Derailers recording and ACL. It was time to unwind. The following night the legendary Continental club was the place to be. Outside a neon sign stands out as the only light on the block. But on this special night, Austin had a full moon looking down over the neon. The small club featured a revolving mirror ball in front of the stage sending out beams of light touching every wall. A red sparkle curtain covers the back of the stage with an eye catching raised chrome Continental Club logo in the center. What a cool place! This is where Dave recorded his Interstate City Live album. The Leroi Bros. were the headliners. Dave and Chris Gaffney were somewhere in the club. Anybody who knows Dave can be sure that when guitars are in the house and Dave Alvin is in the house, they can't help but come together. A jam was inevitable. Around 1:45 AM Dave and Chris were called to the Leroi Bros. stage. Singer Doug Sahm also appeared. The club was due to close at 2 and It was going out with a bang. They started with Bo Diddley's BEFORE YOU ACCUSE ME. Doug was taking the vocals, Chris backing, Dave on lead guitar, and the Leroi Bros. filling out the sound. The next 2 songs were titles I wasn't sure of -EVERYBODY'S GOIN' BACK TO SAN ANTONE and YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE. Dave then immediately launched into his favorite bar song - HONKY TONK. He took the first half on vocals and Chris finished it up on vocals. Unbelievable! You would think these guys played together all the time. The show was over. The owner later said that Dave brings the house down everytime, he was right. Good bye Austin, we thank you!

Dave Alvin's Austin City Limits appearance will be paired with a segment by Loudin Wainwright on April 10, 1999. A limited number of PBS stations will be carrying the show on that date. Check your local listings. Monte Montgomery's concert will air on another as yet to be determined program.

Submitted by Billy Davis

Library of Congress online has Original Versions of Blackjack David

For anyone who has access to the web and is interested in hearing early versions of the song which Dave has recorded as Blackjack David, I came upon something fun this morning. The Library of Congress web site has a section called Voices From The Dust Bowl which is full of field recordings from California work camps that were done as part of a federally-funded project in 1940 and 1941. This includes audio files of 2 different versions of this song. One is titled Blackjack Davy and is sung by Mrs. O. C. Davis. This one is a little rough and the lyrics offer a different point of view on the tale but it is clearly the same tune and same story, with a few of the same lines. The other is titled Black Jack Daisy and is sung by Mrs. Myra Pipkin. This one is nearly identical to the version recorded by Dave on his most recent disc. Mrs. Pipkin has a wonderful voice and the recording includes a bit of interview after the song. In addition, links are offered to a photo and some additional text. It is fascinating. Access is through the following address: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/afctshtml/tshome.html

I found this to be a very cool link to traditional folk music and was amazed to find the connection to Dave's work. Hope you all do too.

Submitted by Wayne Stevens

Dave at Fitzgerald's, Chicago

Dave was in the audience at the Jimmie Dale Gilmore/Dale Watson show at Fitzgerald's here in Chicago Saturday, Oct. 24. Jimmie Dale called him onto stage and Dave proceeded to rip through a rousing rendiditon of "Honky Tonk Song." The night wore on, Jimmie Dale lost his voice, and Dave came back onstage (along with his drummer and pedal steel player) and did another number (Thank s to 3 1/2 hours of alcohol I can't quite remember which number). This was a great show at a small venue and the energy was incredible. Dave added a lot to the evening's excitement.

Dave in Florida Music Rag

I was browsing through the Aug '98 edition of "American Country Music Monthly", a paper that's given away free in our area of North Florida, and darned if they didn't have an interview with Dave on page 22 penned by one Jana Pendragon. In it he talks about the "Blackjack David" project, songwriting in general and his latest project, producing an upcoming CD for bluesman King Clarence.[ed: This CD project has been delayed, although Dave did do some jamming with him before the summer '98 tour.] Just thought Dave fans who log on to your excellent service might like to know.

Submitted by Tom Whitney

No Depression Feature

Dave is featured in the July '98 issue of NO DEPRESSION in a 5 page article with several photos from throughout his career in the Blasters, X, and solo.

Big Dave Plays Not-so-Big Iowa Venue

There is a venue here in Iowa beloved by local artists and touring pro's alike. It's called "The Maintenance Shop", located in the student union building on campus at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. The M-Shop actually used to be the repair and service shop for the ISU motor pool, but many years ago was converted to a cozy little pub with a stage for performances. Over the last couple of decades the M-Shop has built a reputation as THE cool place to put on a show, and many touring pro's actually request a booking when in the area. The place holds about 125 people-real cozy!!- and the acoustics, reputation, laid-back atmosphere, and good vibes have earned it many return performances by artists who know very well they could make 10 or 25 times the money booked in a larger venue, but people seem to LOVE performing there.

I had the good fortune to see Dave Alvin there in Sept. of '96. I was directly in front of the stage, about 8 feet from Dave, and man , what a show! Dave said he'd been hearing about the M-Shop for 15 years and was really glad to be there. He signed autographs and talked to fans after the show, a real nice guy, friendly, and no sign of that evil showbiz ego some performers are afflicted with. Anyway, that's my cool show story. Thanks for listening!!

Submitted by Bobby

3rd Coast Music rag to Feature Dave

Dave Alvin will be the cover story of the July 98 issue of 3rd Coast Music, Kind of a response to No Depression's naming Alejandro Escovedo Artist of the Decade.

Submitted by John Conquest

Dont Everyone be Trying this Now

That Dave Alvin is not only a brilliant musician. He's also a damn fine human being.

Here I am sitting in Boston with Dave Alvin, in many ways my musical prophet, coming to town after putting out a killer new album. Unfortunately, he's coming to the House of Blues, which is a cheesy MTV-esque club that even more unfortunately restricts admission to 21+. As a twenty year old college student, I brewed and spit in frustration, until I was offered the idea to write a letter to Dave and ask him to put me on the guest list. Brilliant thought.

So I did. That afternoon, I faxed my letter which said that I caught a couple of his shows in the San Francisco Bay Area, one being a spiritual experience, a short diatribe against fascistic federal alcohol policies, and a request for help.

By 9:00 PM with no word from Dave or the House of Blues, I was a little bummed and resigned myself to a night of procrsatinated homework. Suddenly, at 10:15, the phone rang. I answered it, and here was the coversation:

Talli: "Hello"

"Hi," said a man with a gruff voice, "Is this Talli?"


"Talli, this is Dave Alvin. I'm going on in about an hour, and I'm putting you on the guest list."

My brain exploded. I was excited and pumped to a ridiculous degree. So I jammed over to the show, got in, and saw Dave, Rick Solem (a god on the piano), Bobby Lloyd Hicks, and Greg Boaz kick ass. Brilliant show, and a damn fine time.

Some highlights:

30 Dollar Room featured some killer guitar solos by Dave, followed by an awesome segue into Musuem of Heart. The Jubillee Tain/Do Re Me/Promised Land montage brought the house down. King of California and Marie, Marie (enough said). Dave adding his sense of humor and story telling to Wanda and Duane and Romeo's Escape. Anytime Rick Solem's finger's touched the keyboard.

Submitted by Talli Somekh

A Micro-Reunion?

On Tuesday, 20 Jan 98, at Jack's Sugar Shack 10 year anniversary of Ronnie Mack's Bar Dance, Dave did 2 songs and then brought up Bill Bateman and they did American Music. Dave Dedicated it to all the blues guys and Carl Perkins who had died this month.

Submitted by a web page viewer.

Possible Blasters Reunion Gig!

Rumors have been circulating around the recent CD release of the Blasters first album from 1980, that the original Blasters including Dave Alvin will be doing one show to celebrate the historic release. No word on this officially but it would be a nice thank you from the band to the fans for the many years waited. Let's cross our fingers.

Dave plays "Unannounced"at Jack's Sugar Shack

Dave spent every Friday in August at L.A.'s Jack's Sugar Shack playing with the Guilty Men under assumed names as they practiced new material for the forth coming album. The crowds still came knowing exactly who the billed KING OF CALIFORNIA was. Each week the band came up with names for the band like PHIL'S BROTHERS BAND or THE ARTIST FORMALLY KNOWN AS PHIL'S BROTHER. They had so much fun playing these off the cuff gigs, they will do it again every Saturday in October, on the 18th opening for The Derailers and the 25th for Chris Gaffney.


OAKLAND, CA - HighTone Records has announced it will reissue for the first time on CD the classic debut from The Blasters, American Music, on September 16, with the new version of the album containing six previously unreleased tracks. HighTone will also issue the album on a special double vinyl format as well, with one LP containing the original tracks and one 12 inch record containing the unreleased material. All of the songs are being remastered with the participation of ex-Blaster and current HighTone artist Dave Alvin. HighTone Records CDs are distributed nationally by Rhino/WEA.

Originally released in 1980 on "Rockin" Ronny Weiser's Los Angeles-based Rolling Rock label with a limited pressing of two thousand copies, American Music has become a valuable collector's item, fetching $100 and up on the market. Produced by Weiser, the album was recorded in a Van Nuys garage on the kind of no-frills equipment that perfectly captured the excitement and raw power of The Blasters, the Downey, California band that bridged the gap between roots rock and punk music.

The band included brothers Dave and Phil Alvin on guitar and vocals respectively, plus drummer Bill Bateman and bassist John Bazz. Several songs on the album, such as "Marie, Marie" and the title track, became staples of The Blasters live shows, and in-turn appeared later on both Blasters and Dave Alvin solo recordings. In addition to several excellent originals written by the brothers Alvin, the American Music reissue's 19 tracks feature songs by a number of the band's rock 'n' roll, blues, and country idols, such as Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Haley and Billy Boy Arnold. A few of the previously-unreleased songs include Hank Ballard's "Love 24 Hours a Day," Howlin' Wolf's "So Glad" and Magic Sam's "21 Days In Jail."

"This is a flat-out rockin' album, played by a bunch of young guys who loved the music and recorded before we got exposed to the perils of the music industry," said Dave Alvin in recalling American Music. "American Music is a seminal piece of American rock 'n' roll history , sought by collectors all over the world," said HighTone Records managing partner Larry Sloven. "We are especially proud and excited to be associated with its return to the public."

Hightone to Re-release American Music

Reliable high-up sources reveal that Hightone has agreed to re-release the Blaster's first album on the Rolling Rock Label, American Music. Rumor is Dave will be producing it and the release date is mid-September!

A Dave Story

I had the opportunity to hang out with Dave & co. one night about 4, or 5 months ago in Mill Valley, California at the SweetWater Tavern. Dave actually remembered me from a Chicano Rockabilly band I was in that opened for the Blasters in Sacramento, California back in 1981. I was impressed (and flattered) by that alone. Dave had me laughing my ass off as he recounted the sleazy club owner (who incidentally ripped-off both bands that evening), The look and smell of the crappy, converted theater we played, as well as, in his words; "One hell of a version of Don & Dewey's 'Jungle Hop' you guys played!" All I could do was blush, say thanks and look at the ground. We went on talking about the recent death of Johhny "Guitar" Watson and later that evening during one of the sets, Dave and the band ripped into this slow, lowdown riff. During the low rumbling of the intro Dave said something about a great guitar player who had just passed and the impact that said player had on a certain Mr. Alvin. This was the coolest version of "Gangster of Love" I have ever heard. As they did this Dave shot a look in my direction and just smiled. I hoisted my glass and shouted, "For Johnny, man!" Dave nodded and then preceded to rip it up. If Walt Whitman, or John Steinbeck played guitar they would have been Dave Alvin. He is truly a gifted artist and a gentleman, through and through.

Submitted by Jaime, who forgot to give me his email address.

New Album expected January 1998

Rich Pirone talked to Dave after a recent show in PA and found out he (Dave, not Rich) is working on a new album which he expects will be released in January, 1998. Cool!

Dave on TV!

Dave can be seen briefly (and has a few lines!) as a chauffeur in the American Playhouse miniseries "Tales of the City," which is available on video.

It's six hours long and Dave is only in it for a couple of minutes (somewhere in the middle), but it's still very much worth watching.

Submitted by Gary Thorn


I was at a show by The Derailers, whose record Alvin produced, when I ran into Him in the bathroom. (This was in mid-1996 at the Foothill Club in Signal Hill.) Inebriated, I wandered into the bathroom, to use the trough, where I found myself standing next to one Dave Alvin. Insofar as my voicebox and mind were separated by a river of beer, I ventured "There's a familiar face," following this with a well-intended remark about how the Derailers sounded even better live. Alvin, who may have been in his cups as well (?), parried by gruffly pointing out, "Well, I produced that record." Realizing the gravity of what had just transpired, I excused myself and stumbled back to the gig. (At this show, I believe Big Sandy & His Fly Rite Boys, another Alvin-produced disc, also were playing, though I am not sure. The Derailers hit The Foothill twice last year and this was their second go-round.

Submitted by Theo Douglas


Ron Cheney reports seeing Dave playing a body guard in the movie Floundering, now available on videotape.

Jeffrey Lee Pierce Funeral

Jeffrey Lee Pierce, vocalist and guitarist of The Gun Club died earlier this year after slipping into a coma. He had a Buddhist funeral ceremony on 10 April, 1996. Dave Alvin attended. Dave played on two tracks of the band's Las Vegas Story LP, released in 1984, and was a good friend of Jeffrey's.
Submitted by Hellione

Dave Reads and Plays in Dallas

Dave was in Dallas, TX a couple of months ago (~Feb 1996) to give a concert at Sons of Herman Hall, but before the show he gave a reading at Borders Books & Music. He read from his new book of poetry, Any Rough Times Are Behind You Now. There were maybe 6 people there to hear him, and he was great.

"A Poem for Demi Moore's Mother," and "My Mother Fell" were two stand outs.

Submitted by Erica

Dave Joins Blasters on Stage at Antones

October, 1995:During the recent Blasters/Beat Farmers tour, the Blasters played in Austin while Dave was there recording the Derailers new album (see the Recent News section) and Dave came up during the encore to help with Marie Marie and Hear me Cryin'. After the show, Dave and Phil kept most of the fans away, talking between themselves and generally having a good time the back of the club. It was all this reporter could to to keep from trying to get Phil and Dave to join him in the instant photo booth right behind them. Lost opportunities....

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Last modified 25Apr02

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