Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin with The Guilty Ones @ Bell House

Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin with The Guilty Ones; Jonah Tolchin & The Lonesome Angels
@ The Bell House
Brooklyn, NY - July 11, 2014

I can't shy away from the fact that there was a sense of mortality about the appearance of Phil Alvin with his brother Dave Alvin and their backing band in Brooklyn for their tour in support of a new record of Big Bill Broonzy tunes. Combine that with the tone of family, as the brothers looked back upon their ancestors and namely their mother, and their own conflicts over the years and it made for a very, very emotional night.

There is no sufficient wording that can convey the remarkable strength of Phil Alvin's voice. It is untouched. Perfect and pure, like the Blasters music of old. It is as steadfast in its existence as Phil's big grin. And whether it was Bill Bill stuff like "Truckin' Little Woman" and "Key to the Highway" or Blasters classics like "Border Radio", acoustic and electric alike, Phil led the charge of his terrific band. And Dave - ever the talented guitarist and song writer (Hearing his "4th of July" just a couple of weeks after hearing John Doe do it in the X way was very sweet) - has a storytelling voice of liquid California gold that held the audience in complete rapture.

At the end of the set, when Phil brought out again his Sonny Terry-trained harmonica talents and put it to use on a show stoppin' medley, and the whisps of "So Long Baby Goodbye" came to the fore, I had a bit of a task keeping it together and not letting my emotions get the better of me. Something about the night made hearing that perfect song in the context of what I was seeing and feeling, with "When the Saints Go Marching In"on top of all that as well, almost too much to handle.

And then when I got home and heard that Tommy Ramone was gone, that feeling came back. Maybe that was it the whole time. Or it was hearing the Alvins, together, maybe saying goodbye also but maybe not. Maybe it was thinking about the whole damn stream - from spirituals and blues in cotton fields to electricity and drums in cities and jukes, hopping over to working class England and then back again and then revolutionized by snot nose punks (and back to England again) and then taken on new old trails all over the last few decades. It's just the lifeblood of rock n roll, coursing through the veins of all of us who love it.

Jonah Tolchin and his band were a very nice country blues act. Excellent version of "Lost Highway".


Post a Comment

<< Home