David Albert Alvin (born November 11, 1955) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, music producer and poet. He is a former and founding member of the roots rock band the Blasters. Alvin has recorded and performed as a solo artist since the late 1980s and has been involved in various side projects and collaborations. He has had brief stints as a member of the bands X and the Knitters.
Alvin in 2011
|Birth name||David Albert Alvin|
|Born||November 11, 1955|
|Origin||Downey, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Americana, alternative country, roots rock, punk rock, rockabilly, country rock, folk rock|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, music producer|
|Labels||Rhino, Yep Roc|
|Associated acts||The Blasters|
The Flesh Eaters
Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Alvin grew up in Downey, California. He and his older brother, Phil Alvin, as teenagers attended rockabilly and country music venues and listened to the music of Chet Atkins, Leo Kottke, and others. Dave attended Long Beach State University.
With the BlastersEdit
In 1979, Alvin and his brother Phil formed the roots-rock band The Blasters with fellow Downey residents Bill Bateman and John Bazz. Alvin served as the group's lead guitarist and chief songwriter. The Rough Guide to Rock noted the ever-increasing numbers of originals that Alvin wrote for the Blasters, along with his maturation into a great songwriter.
Other artists have covered Alvin's songs. For example, "Marie, Marie" became a British-German top 20 hit in 1980 for Shakin' Stevens and received a zydeco treatment in 1987 from Buckwheat Zydeco. Dwight Yoakam recorded "Long White Cadillac" in 1989.
Alvin was in the original lineup until 1986. His departure reflected internal tension in the band, but ultimately he wanted to sing his own songs while his brother Phil Alvin was the established lead vocalist for the group.
Alvin has rejoined the Blasters for some reunion tours and live albums with the original lineup. He has also occasionally performed with the band under other circumstances as well.
With X and the KnittersEdit
Alvin was also a member of the country-folk band The Knitters, an offshoot of X. He appeared on their 1985 album Poor Little Critter on the Road and their 2005 follow-up, The Modern Sounds of the Knitters.
With the Flesh EatersEdit
In the early 1980s Alvin, along with fellow Blasters members Bill Bateman and Steve Berlin, performed on A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die by the Los Angeles punk band the Flesh Eaters. This lineup, which also included John Doe and D.J. Bonebrake, assembled once again in 2006, performing three shows in California and one in England to mark the album’s 25th anniversary. They reunited briefly in 2015 for a five-show tour and again for an eight-show run in 2018. They issued a new album, I Used to Be Pretty, in 2019.
Alvin's first solo album, Romeo's Escape (entitled Every Night About This Time in England), was released in 1987. It was well received by critics but did not sell well. Because of the album's low sales, Alvin's recording contract with Columbia Records was terminated. He then toured with Mojo Nixon and Country Dick Montana, billed as the Pleasure Barons; an album recorded live on their 1993 tour was released.
Alvin's second solo album, Blue Blvd, was released by Hightone Records in 1991. It received positive reviews and had moderate sales. His album Museum of Heart was released in 1993. He recorded King of California, an album of acoustic music, in 1994. In 2000, he recorded the album Public Domain: Songs From the Wild Land, a collection of traditional folk and blues classics, which earned him a Grammy award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
In 2011, Alvin recorded the album Eleven Eleven, released by Yep Roc Records. The album marked his return to rock roots. Rolling Stone magazine, in a review of the album, called Alvin "an underrecognized guitar hero".
Further recordings with Phil AlvinEdit
In 2014, Dave and Phil Alvin, as a duo, released the album Common Ground, consisting of their versions of songs by Big Bill Broonzy. It was the first studio collaboration of the brothers since the mid-1980s. In 2015 they released Lost Time, a collection of covers including four songs by Big Joe Turner.
In live performance, Alvin assumed the role of emcee and storyteller. The brothers also worked Blasters tunes into the set list.
With Jimmie Dale GilmoreEdit
Alvin and Texas singer-songwriter Jimmie Dale Gilmore teamed on the 2018 album Downey to Lubbock (the title is a reference to where each man grew up).
As seen in his live performances with brother Phil, Alvin's stories between songs were a notable part of the stage shows with Gilmore and their supporting musicians.
Producer and collaboratorEdit
Alvin has produced records for Chris Gaffney, Tom Russell, the Derailers, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys and Red Meat. He collaborated with the rockabilly musician Sonny Burgess. He has worked as a studio session musician accompanying Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Little Milton, Katy Moffatt, and Syd Straw.
Alvin has published two books of poetry: Any Rough Times Are Now Behind You and Nana, Big Joe & the Fourth of July. His poetry has appeared in Caffeine, the A.K.A. Review, Rattler, Asymptote and Enclitic and in the anthologies Nude Erections, Hit and Run Poets and Poetry Loves Poetry—An Anthology of Los Angeles Poets.
The Blasters discographyEdit
(recordings with Dave Alvin as member)
The Blasters videographyEdit
- Streets of Fire (1984)
- The Blasters Live: Going Home (2004)
- See How We Are (1986)
The Knitters discographyEdit
- Poor Little Critter on the Road (1985)
- The Modern Sounds of the Knitters (2005)
Dave Alvin discographyEdit
|1987||Romeo's Escape (also released as Every Night About This Time)||60||116||—||—|
|1993||Museum of Heart||—||—||—||—|
|1994||King of California||—||—||—||—|
|2002||Out in California||—||—||—||—|
|Outtakes in California||—||—||—||—|
|2005||The Great American Music Galaxy||—||—||—||—|
|2006||West of the West||—||—||24||35|
|2007||Live from Austin, TX: Austin City Limits||—||—||—||—|
|2009||Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women||—||—||—||—|
|2014||Common Ground: Dave & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy (with Phil Alvin)||—||144||3||25|
|2015||Lost Time (with Phil Alvin)||—||—||8||32|
|2018||Downey to Lubbock (with Jimmie Dale Gilmore)||41||—||2||12|
|2020||From An Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Tracks||—||—||—||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
- Deming, Mark. Dave Alvin: Biography. AllMusic.com.
- Barabak, Mark Z. (June 3, 2011). "Troubadour of Troubled Times". Los Angeles Times Magazine. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
- Sullivan, Denise. "Artist Biography: The Blasters". AllMusic.com.
- Buckley, Peter and Jonathan (editors) (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. pp. 106. ISBN 9781858284576.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- Sculley, Alan (September 23, 2015). "Alvin brothers: Losing no more time playing apart". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
- Rosen, Craig (December 15, 2012). "The Blasters' frontman Phil Alvin takes to the stage New Year's Eve after a scary 2012". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
- Cook, Glenn. (March 19, 2019). "Show Review: Flesh Eaters Rock DC's Union Stage With Porcupine". Americana Highways. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
- Scherman, Tony (June 21, 2011). "Dave Alvin: Eleven Eleven". Rolling Stone.
- Gallo, Phil (February 19, 2014). "Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Talk 'Common Ground' Album, Premiere 'All By Myself' Song: Listen Exclusively". Billboard. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
- Dougherty, Steve (May 29, 2014). "A Torn-Up Band of Brothers, Finally on the Mend". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
- Lewis, Randy (June 6, 2014). "Dave and Phil Alvin, Former Blasters Mates, Resurrect Partnership". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
- Cohen, Elliot Stephen (March 2016). "Dave Alvin: Return of the Battlin' Brothers". Vintage Guitar. p. 24.
- "Dave and Phil Alvin and the Guilty Ones". Elmore Magazine. September 9, 2016. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
- Ferguson, Neil (October 1, 2018). "Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore Prove Perfect Collaborators in Portland". Glide Magazine. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
- "Dave Alvin: Filmography". IMDb.com.
- "Dave Alvin Chart History (Top Country Albums)". Billboard.
- "Dave Alvin Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
- "Dave Alvin Chart History (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard.
- "Dave Alvin Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard.
- Horowitz, Hal (May 29, 2018). "Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore: Downey To Lubbock". American Songwriter.