Expect the unexpected with dynamic Alvin and Gilmore

by DGO Web Administrator

They’re two musicians with almost a century of songwriting between them. You can file them under the “roots-country-folk-Americana” label but ditch the names and just refer them as two dudes w make important contributions to the songbook of the world.

One is a blues-at-the-core, Southern California cow-punk who helped form roots-punk band The Blasters, had a run playing guitar in X, and for decades has had a steady run of playing folk and roots rock. His talent is vast, his catalog deep. He’s a lyricist whose words paint vivid scenes of America: Angst, beat jobs, blowing out of town with nothing and coming home with less.

He’s also a hell of a guitar player with encyclopedic knowledge of America’s lesser-known heavy-hitters of early blues music.

The other is a laid-back, independent Texas folk and country singer. He’s high and lonesome when he needs to be, and rough around the edges like a beaten West Texas town; an unpretentious and gritty singer with a pocket full of songs both sad and celebratory. He also carries that same encyclopedic knowledge of the important contributors to American music. If that isn’t enough, he plays Smokey in “The Big Lebowski.”

California’s Dave Alvin and Texas’s Jimmie Dale Gilmore are performing together Wednesday, March 22, at the Henry Strater Theatre. They’ll trade off on songs, tell stories, and knock down the walls that define genres. It’s all blues, it’s all roots rock, it’s all country, a head-first dive into a pool of American music that moves well beyond watered down mountain grass and the twang that defines the PBR crowd. This is musical exploration grounded in lyrical reality: Two musicians with unique voices exploring their personal brands of country and blues via a partnership that came together with little fanfare, just a mutual admiration of the other’s work.

“It just kind of happened; there wasn’t an ‘aha’ moment. I’ve known Jimmie for 30-some years, and we’ve never done anything where it’s just me and him with guitars, which is how the show is structured. It can get interesting. It’s not just an ‘Oh, and then I wrote this’ kind of situation. We pull things out of the hat, out of very obscure hats,” said Alvin. “But it was really just an idea that boiled down to something as mundane as ‘Hey, are you busy? No? You wanna do this? Yeah.’”

Alvin is stoked on the partnership and subsequent tour that continues to add more dates around the states. There is no set-list, and neither musician dictates what the other will perform throughout the show. You’ll likely hear Gilmore’s “Dallas,” and you could hear Alvin dip into The Blasters catalog, ripping through an acoustic version of “Marie Marie.” If a fan yells out “Fourth of July” it could get played. It’s loose, casual, and cool.

“It really is fun; it tickles the ol’ creative funny bone or something. Some nights, Jimmie will pull out something he hasn’t done in 40 years, because of the song that I just played,” Alvin said. “We’ve covered everything. We do our own songs, of course, but then we get to everything from Townes Van Zandt to Merle Haggard, to Blind Lemon Jefferson to Sam Cooke. Things come out. Jimmy singing Sam Cooke is pretty amazing but Jimmy singing Blind Lemon Jefferson is downright eye-opening. What happens is pretty organic.”

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. [email protected].

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