The Blasters Join Horton's Holiday Hayride Tour

This Issue:  A Farewell to Sonny Burgess, The Guilty Ones
interview Part 2, Rick Shea's new CD, and Dave Instrumentals.

The Guilty Ones Interview   Part 2

   Chris Miller       Lisa Pankratz     Brad Fordham

Rick Shea & The Losin' End
The Town Where I Live

Andrew Hardin made his mark in music serving as Tom Russell's guitarist in the studio and on the road for about a quarter of a century. Hardin lifted the song to another level with his distinctive acoustic playing on a live version of THE ANGEL OF LYON from Russell's The Long Way Around CD in 1997. On the same album he also contributed guitar and backing vocals to Alvin / Russell duets on BLUE WING and HALEY'S COMET. Hardin credits Dave with serving as the inspiration for his own  Blue Acoustic album , a CD of Hardin instrumentals, featuring two collaborations with Dave.
In August, Hardin discussed working with Dave in an email interview with Tom Wilk:

American Music: Could you share your memories of how you came to work with Dave on Blue Acoustic and how you came to record EL CAJON and MEXICALI CHINATOWN?

Andrew Hardin:
I had known Dave for a while. He and Greg Leisz had produced an album for Tom Russell entitled The Rose Of The San Joaquin.  Tom and Dave also produced the songwriters' tribute to Merle Haggard: Tulare Dust, which featured artists Iris Dement, Peter Case, Dwight Yoakum, Robert Earl Keen, Joe Ely, Rosie Flores, Steve Young, Marshall Crenshaw, Barrence Whitfield, Lucinda Williams, Billy Joe Shaver, Katy Moffatt, John Doe, and Dave Alvin, and Tom Russell. Both these projects were around 1994 as was Dave's classic album King of California. Tom Russell and I were invited to the session for the song KING OF CALIFORNIA at a studio on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. It was a memorable session -- lots of people in the control room. Greg Leisz was producing, and he had to ask everyone to hold it down. (Dave usually has some sort of entourage with himů) Anyway, the actual take was AMAZING. Bobby Lloyd Hicks (of the Skeletons, and also Dave's longtime drummer) on snare drum and Dave on guitar and vocal. Greg Leisz's dobro was overdubbed right away, if I remember correctly.

At some point I got to play Dave's National resonator guitar and said, "Man, I would love to play this on a recording." This particular guitar, from the 1930's was very easy to play all the way up the neck, and it was, in fact, very resonant! I think that was the seed of the idea I had to record guitar duets with singer-songwriter-guitarists, except with no singing or songwriting.

My job was often accompanying these otherwise self-contained entities in live performance or in the studio, and I knew a bunch of them. They usually played guitar simply, leaving me room to color the chords or embellish the rhythm patterns with solos or flourishes. So my idea was to improvise with some of these folks - all of whom I enjoyed playing with and admired - and record simply and organically on locations (not in a studio). The listener would get to experience an intimate jam session as if they were sitting right there. I had a portable Sony DAT recorder and battery-powered RODE stereo condenser microphone. I planned a trip from my home near Austin, Texas, to Los Angeles to record with Dave at his home in Silver Lake. I had my girlfriend GiGi Benno with me -- we loved West Texas and the Southwest -- and we had an adventure together. Dave was gracious and generous when we arrived. We just played 2 or 3 improvisations, traded guitars back and forth, and I sorted it all out later in the studio with Mark Hallman (at Congress House Studio in Austin, which is the recent subject of the excellent documentary film
The Shopkeeper ).

I titled the tunes with vaguely Spanish/Southwestern names. On the tune EL CAJON, Dave played the resonator guitar and I played my 1945 Gibson LG-2. On
Mexicali Chinatown, I played the coveted resonator guitar and Dave played one of his other acoustics, a Martin or a Gibson. Dave later gave the song its title when we were talking on the phone and he told me the story of Mexicali Chinatown, an underground settlement near the US-Mexico border around the turn of the century where Chinese immigrants in Mexico were imported to the US to build railroads, and the underground part housed "dens of iniquity": opium dens and brothels, among other things. I had never heard of this, of course, but Dave knows his history, and the title fit the vaguely "Oriental" feel of the music.

AM:
I know you recorded the songs with Dave at his California home rather than at a recording studio. Do you think that made it easier to collaborate?

AH:
Yes. That was the idea. I also recorded at Eliza Gilkyson's home in Austin and Tom Russell's home in El Paso. Ray Wylie Hubbard is my neighbor -- he came over to our house. We recorded Washtub Jerry at the McDonald Observatory

in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, and Don Edwards was recorded in a hotel room in Elko, Nevada, during the Cowboy Poetry gathering. I recorded the solo pieces at an empty, echoey room near our home.

AM:
How did you and Dave meet and did you play together much onstage?

AH:
I was aware of the Blasters, but had not followed them that closely. I was living in San Francisco, and they were based in L.A. I later learned that The Blasters were kind of the godfathers of the punk/retro scene and mentored acts such as Los Lobos and Dwight Yoakam. I was a big 'X' fan and had seen Dave perform with them in New York. In 1990, Dave did some gigs on the East Coast with the Tom Russell Band. Our sound was stylistically similar to what Dave's bands would sound like -- literate country-rock with some punk attitude and retro rock and roll influence. I was somewhat aware that his band with his brother had broken up, that he was trying to start a solo career, and that the young fans that would show up at the gigs - which boosted his confidence. There is also an anecdote that I have heard from Dave that he was making a go of it as a songwriter in Nashville and getting pretty depressed  - when he heard the song BLUE WING by Tom Russell, and it inspired him to write "what he felt," as opposed to trying to be "commercial."

AM:
Have you ever considered working with Dave on another musical project?

AH:
Well, that would be fine with me. I see Dave occasionally if he plays at the Continental Club or the Cactus Cafe in Austin. We also are connected to an organization called Roots On The Rails, which arranges train trips with performing Americana music artists.
In closing, I would just say that Dave is one of my most admired musicians and people that I know. He's always treated me respectfully and with friendliness, and he's a great guitar player, bandleader, and performer. He's well-read and writes classic songs and he writes poetry. And he has a lot of energy and toughness to constantly take it on the road.
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AM