LIVE: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin With the Guilty Ones @ the Hollow, 10/28/15


Review by Bokonon
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

When are Phil Alvin and Dave Alvin, onstage together, not The Blasters? Evidently, now, but really it’s a matter of semantics. When the brothers split, acrimoniously in early ’86, Phil took the band’s moniker and hard R&B style with him, while Dave went the solo route, flourishing as a brilliant roots-rock songwriter.

Three years ago, the older Phil had a health scare, essentially dying before being brought back. That’s the kind of thing that can heal old wounds, emotionally at least.

Now, under their own names, the brothers Alvin have been touring heavily behind two albums, including September’s aptly titled Lost Time.

But what happened last Wednesday at Albany’s Hollow Bar + Kitchen was, essentially, quintessentially, the Blasters. The few Dave solo originals that slid into the mix, including “Johnny Ace is Dead” and “Dry River,” relate directly to the lads’ own Downey, California roots. The rest of the set was largely culled from 2014’s Big Bill Broonzy tribute, Common Ground, and the latest disc’s burning collection of classics by Big Joe Turner, Oscar Brown, Jr. and Willie Dixon, among others.

The younger Alvin, at 59, has become a monster guitar player, pulling fat finger tone from a Strat through a Concert, and slicing the air with a thumbpick when more aggression is needed. The fact that he stands opposite gunslinger Chris Miller makes this touring unit ferocious, especially when, as with “Dry River,” Miller counters with slide. And the rhythm section of Austinites Brad Fordham (bass) and Lisa Pankratz (drums) ensures that the band can rock all night.

But the news here is Phil’s mighty voice. Dave may be magnetic on his own, but the old man opens his mouth, and it’s “Dave who?”

Despite his frail appearance at The Hollow, Alvin’s trumpeting tone was intact, and when he owned Big Joe’s “Cherry Red Blues,” man, he owned it. Other Phil killers included Broonzy’s “I Feel So Good” and Brown’s savage “Mister Kicks.” Dave rocked with “Southern Flood Blues” and the epic guitar workout of “What’s Up With Your Brother?”

But to return to a variation on the earlier question, when are Phil Alvin and Dave Alvin,
onstage together, The Blasters? When they positively rip “American Music,” “Border Radio” and “Marie, Marie.”

By any name, Jesus Christ, what a band!

Greg Haymes’ review at The Times Union

All by Myself (Big Bill Broonzy)
I Feel So Good (Big Bill Broonzy)
Mister Kicks (Oscar Brown Jr.)
World’s in a Bad Way
Sit Down, Baby (Willie Dixon)
Cherry Red Blues (Big Joe Turner)
Hide and Seek
Southern Flood Blues (Big Bill Broonzy)
Border Radio (the Blasters)
Johnny Ace Is Dead
Truckin’ Little Woman (Big Bill Broonzy)
What’s up With Your Brother?
Dry River
American Music (the Blasters)
Fourth of July (X)
Marie Marie (the Blasters)
Turn On Your Love Light (Bobby Blue Bland)




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