Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Album Review: Dave Alvin, Live from Austin, Texas

Artist: Dave Alvin
Title: Live from Austin, Tx
Writer: Rick Galusha

This latest release featuring the music of Dave Alvin is on the New West recording label and a part is their series, ‘live from Austin, tx.’ The series includes DVDs & CDs performances of a wide variety of artists on the famed public broadcasting television series, ‘Austin City Limits.’ Recorded in 1999 this 13 track album includes songs from across Alvin’s career including slices from the then current ‘Blackjack David’ album. Within the album’s liner notes the writer notes that Alvin is considered by Rolling Stone magazine to be among the masters “of small town laments,” (along with Springsteen, Hiatt and Dylan). It’s no wonder then that Alvin covers the depression era, ‘Do-Re-Me’ by Woody Guthrie.

Listening to Alvin’s music, or having the opportunity to speak with him, it quickly becomes apparent that he has vast knowledge of the music that came before him. This musical largess may be where Alvin’s credibility comes from; knowing the proper arrangement that allows the listeners into a 3 minute song that fully depicts someone’s defining moment.

On, ‘Out in California’ the band rolls into a late period Las Vegas style Elvis romp where pianist Joe Terry drops in fills that propel the song along. At a midpoint Rick Shea’s pedal steel slows the song down as Alvin laments over the top only to pick-up the tempo and ‘roll on down a musical highway.’ The every catchy ‘Abilene’ is an epic bus journey song where the female figure, a table dancer, leaves the Pacific Northwest heading towards Abilene in order to get away; “Staring out the window at the long cold night, there on the horizon is another string of bright lights, dreaming of a man she’s gonna meet…” Alvin’s songs are infested with characters that, I suppose, most of his record buying public would take the long way around to avoid. Reviews of his work inevitably include phrases like “dusty streets,” “hard luck” and “desperate.” To me, while I cannot honestly relate through experience, his songs speak of hope amid hopelessness and of loneliness & want in a land of plenty.

If you already enjoy Alvin’s music this is an excellent compliment to an already remarkably body of work. Throughout the album Alvin changes tempos and adds flairs such as including’ Guthrie’s ‘Do-Re-Me’ and Chuck Berry’s ‘Promised Land’ in to Alvin’s own ‘Jubliee Train.’ Ted Roddy’s harmonica and Chris Gaffney’s accordion rev-up an already powerful the song into a revivalist’s creedo, “Get on board there’s a New Deal coming, heard about a Jubilee Train.”

If you’re not a fan of Alvin’s music I would encourage your to ignore the rabidity of his fans and listen to the fifth track on this album, ‘Dry River.’ This was the song that, for me, really kicked open the door to Alvin’s music. Alvin’s unique ability to take the listener to orange groves that would later be plowed down for a suburbanizing Los Angles and contrast them against a love for a “woman” where the singer’s heart is “just as dry as that river and as dead as those old trees” but “some day it’s gonna rain, someday is gonna pour, and that old dry river, it ain’t gonna be dry no more.” As stunning an allegory as popular music may be able to muster.

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