Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men 

Friday, June 18; Off Broadway

Like Richard and Karen Carpenter and Metallica founder James Hetfield, Dave Alvin grew up in the '60s in the middle-class, LA suburb of Downey, California. Given Alvin's musical path, it may has well have been Mars. With his older brother Phil, Alvin spent days scrounging for old country and rockabilly albums and, when he was old enough to make the trip to LA, he worshipped before electric-bluesmen such as T Bone Walker and jump-blues shouters such as Big Joe Turner. The style didn't have a name yet, but the brothers were roots-rockers, you might even say the very first, and the name they gave their band, the Blasters, couldn't have been more on target. The band blew away the overfed and overglammed LA rock scene; they created a space where Los Lobos, X and Dwight Yoakam could rock as one; and they revived, with punkish balls and bad-ass blues chops, the body and soul of American music.

After the Blasters dissolved in the late '80s, Alvin asserted himself as a singer/songwriter without diluting his slash-and-burn Strat style or blunting his rocker's edge. In the '90s he began working in a more acoustic vein and his songwriting became more narrative and revealing. His newest record, Ashgrove, marks a return to a dirtier electric-blues sound, though ballads such as "Nine Volt Heart" (about growing up in love with the radio) and, especially, "Everett Ruess" (about a wilderness advocate who disappeared in a desert canyon) show the gritty poignancy and unpretentious wisdom which have always set him apart.

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

Latest in Critics' Picks

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 9, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2020 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation