Concert Review: Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore @ The Egg, 08/24/2023
The most telling clue that the Dave Alvin/Jimmie Gilmore concert at The Egg wasn’t going to be quite as advertised by the record label Yeprock’s press release was when Dave told me in our advance interview to bring earplugs.
Yeprock was advancing the concert by streaming “Borderland,” a fairly bucolic single from the duo’s upcoming second album. “We’re still making the album,” Dave told me. “The album is almost done. We’re going back in October to finish it. But (the label) wanted to put something out, and that was the song they considered the most commercial, the Americana feel.”
In concert, Jimmie introduced the number by saying America’s borderland was nothing like what we’re seeing on Fox News. In a press release, Jimmie is quoted as saying, “The Big Bend of the Rio Grande River, which in Mexico is called Rio Bravo Del Norte, is one of the most magnificent geographical features of our world. It is a vast, rugged, and beautiful landscape that holds a mysterious attraction for some people.”
He calls it “the borderland between two cultures, two countries, and, in a way, at least two contrasting worldviews… a strange sense of something deeply familiar and yet, at the same time, completely alien.”
The same could be said about the concert. Dave told the crowd that their music has been called everything from cowpunk and contemporary folk to outlaw, popular with some sophisticated Americana. “We don’t care what you call us as long as you come to the show,” he quipped.
The 800-lb gorilla in the room is Dave Alvin’s guitar. Technically, he’s most inspired by the fretwork of classic blues artists like Lightnin’ Hopkins. Still, the repertoire included everything from ‘50s R&B chestnuts like “Lawdy Miss Claudy” and “Bring It on Home to Me” to “Long White Cadillac,” a number written by Dave’s brother Phil when they fronted The Blasters. “I know I don’t sing as good as my brother Phil, but I wrote the damn song,” quipped Dave with a cheek-bending grin.
Jimmie Dale’s vocals are like cinnamon oatmeal with raisins, and Dave’s vocals on “Billy The Kid and Geronimo” from the duo’s first album, Downey to Lubbock, stood tall with Jimmie Dale’s. “My Mind’s Got A Mind of Its Own” is an “old” Butch Hancock song Jimmie has always sung. Dave whispered in Jimmie’s ear, prompting Jimmie to say about the inclusion of this decades-old song, “I know there are a lot of older people in the room younger than me.” “Get Together” by The Youngbloods from Downey to Lubbock is a perennial favorite of mine with its always timely message, “You’ve got to love one another right now.”
Backstage, Dave winced when I told him his guitar work reminded me of Link Wray, and his attitude recalls great shows by Dale Watson. Yeah, he’s loud, and his fretwork is tight, fast, and enervating. It makes me wonder why he isn’t mentioned in the same breath as the myriads of today’s rock god string benders,
They encored with “Have You Seen Dallas from a DC9 at Night?” written by Jimmie Dale in 1972 and recorded by The Flatlanders, “Surfer Girl,” and “Earth Angle.” They conclude two hours on stage with “Marie Marie,” the closest thing The Blasters had to a hit.