Dave Alvin's 25th Anniversary of
Museum of Heart

This Issue:  Dave's 1993 Museum of Heart album, Dave & Jimmie Dales' 2018 tour, Phil's guitar lost and found, Flesh Eaters CD review, and Phil Alvin's Solo Holiday Hayride.   

     In the solo discography of Dave Alvin, the date September 20, 2018, marked the 25th Anniversary of the release of his third solo CD,  Museum of Heart (1993, HighTone).  As a solo artist, he had previously recorded Romeo's Escape (1987, CBS/Epic) followed by his first HighTone release, Blue BLVD (1991).

     After the release of
Blue BLVD, for the next two years Dave did some hard touring--playing solo, duo, and with a full band: the Skeletons. Dave Alvin remembers the Skeletons road manager brought them together: "He was working with my manager Shelley Heber, so they paired us up. I knew of the Skeletons and that they were a great band. I didn't know if I really could afford to pay a band to stay on the road with me. We toured, and our deal was that we divided all the money up equally at the end of the tours. I remember getting home after three months, and I made $345: and I was stoked! That was great compared to my first solo band - the All Nighters tours that lost so much money (laughs). I was in debt for a long time."
     At that point Dave had a band and a good record label, so it was time to do another album.

Hammond organ. I regret not using Leon more on the album. It was a missed opportunity: that I would have loved to have written something that he and Lee Allen could have played on together.
Leon had a furniture store and made it into a studio; it was huge. He had a big hit in the 70s called IT'S GOT TO BE MELLOW and used the money to build that studio and become a record producer. Robert Cray's SMOKING GUN was recorded there.

     I wrote this as an acoustic song like BLACK JACK DAVID, but it didn't turn out that way. I wrote the lyrics after I went out to visit my dad in Downey, and some guy was killed in a liquor store. It examines the idea that when neighborhoods change, It's hard for people to still find the commonality of humanity.  Duke McVinnie is credited as a co-writer. He's a bass player and songwriter: kind of a Captain Beefheart-type. He's an all around great musician.

     I like this song. We're definitely playing blues, and we caught a nice mood on that with the musicians. We did three takes. This was the last. I just wouldn't stop playing. It was the first time in the making of the album that I said, 'Let's just play a lot of guitar.'  This was where I felt I was breaking the Blasters rules.
The way I played guitar in the Blasters was forced on me. There were Blasters rehearsals where I was told there are certain ways to play. I always wanted to break out of that. I didn't bend notes until the last Blasters album
In the Blasters, those restrictions were meant to differentiate us from every other blues band. So many guitarists back then wanted to sound like B.B., Albert, or Freddie or the off-shoot of those guys - Eric Clapton. When Stevie Ray Vaughan came out, he was doing Albert King note-for-note, and we said, 'But we already saw Albert do that and Jimi Hendrix do that. We don't need it.' I look back and think we were stupid. I think those records could have been better if they took me off the leash a little bit.

     That was a piece of music I could never put words to. I wrote it about a Denny's restaurant in our neighborhood at the corner of Florence and Lakewood in Downey. There were these little lounges around in neighboring towns that Lee Allen and various guys would do gigs at. After they were done, they would all go eat at Denny's.  I was 15 years old and would sneak out of my bed room window at 2 in the morning and sit at the counter eating French toast and listen to those guys talk. I'd always say good-bye to them, then sneak back home to bed.

     Dave Alvin: "All the disagreements in the studio brought me to do a more acoustic album next. That became
King of California. Greg Leisz, in his frustration told me: 'I know how to make you sound.' I had enough of producer squabbling, so I said, 'Greg let's do it on our own.' So that's how Greg Leisz became my producer."

"We went right into planning what we were gonna do. I knew from solo gigs that my voice was better in an acoustic setting. I didn't have Phil's voice; I didn't have Big Joe Turner's voice, so how do I find my voice? I was trying to figure it out on Museum of Heart and I thought I almost had it. When we got to recording
King of California, Greg changed keys to suit me, used mics that captured my voice better, and he got rid of extraneous sounds meant for radio airplay. The two albums are totally different. --AM

The Flesh Eaters new CD
'I Used To Be Pretty'

    Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, along with the Guilty Ones, spent the last half of 2018 touring the country relentlessly in support of the Downey To Lubbock album on Yep Roc Records which was released June 1st. The tour started that same day in Texas. The previous year, Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale did two acoustic tours together leading into the recording of the album. "When I started the record, I thought it would be just me and Jimmie with acoustic guitars," Dave recalled, "but soon it became apparent that I wanted the Guilty Ones for a full-band sound. Jimmie always

Jimmie Dale, Brad Fordham, Lisa Pankratz, Danny Bland, Alyssa selling the merch, Jeff Turmes, Chris Miller, and Dave Alvin

From the Editor -- Hey American Music fans, some of you have written in recently with interest in contributing writings to the Blastersnewsletter. The answer is Yes!
Send any reviews of shows, or stories of your experiences to me at davistb@aol.com. 
I'd also like to bring back the "Questions for the Band" column. If you have any questions for any of the musicians covered in these pages, send them. I'll try to get answers to print in the newsletter. Thanks   --Billy Davis

Phil Alvin says: "Never listen to the

Bill Bateman says: "Rules were made to be broken."

John Bazz says: "Never run over your singer even if he's riding a pink bicycle."