Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dave Alvin And Phil Alvin at The Federal Bar, 8-3-14 Concert Review

Dave Alvin And Phil Alvin: "The Stuff They Call Money"
Dave Alvin And Phil Alvin put on one hell of a fantastic set earlier today at The Federal Bar in North Hollywood, as part of the Mimosa Music Series. They had no backing band, and certainly didn’t need one. The place was packed as they took the stage at 12:38 p.m. Things were quite tight, but once they started, my claustrophobia took a hike. (Red Wanting Blue kicked off the show at 11:45 a.m., and I plan on posting a separate entry about their set.)

Gary Calamar, who hosts this music series, introduced them, and asked people to be on the quiet side since Dave and Phil were going to be playing on the quiet side. There are things that I really love about Los Angeles, but one thing I don’t like is the lack of respect often shown at concerts. Gary shouldn’t have had to ask people to be quiet. But fortunately for me I was close enough to the front and to the speakers, that all of the chatter was behind me.

Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin played seated, and Dave began by joking about the early start time, “You know, we always play music this early in the day.” And they kicked off with some blues, a tune called “All By Myself” by Big Bill Broonzy. Dave and Phil recently released an album of Big Bill Broonzy tunes, and they focused on that material for their set. (By the way, during the song, half the audience shushed the other half, and soon everyone was paying attention. Though between songs I could still hear chatter in the back.)

They followed that with a couple more Big Bill Broonzy songs – “Key To The Highway” and “Saturday Night Rub.” In introducing “Key To The Highway,” Dave joked, “My brother and I never argue about anything…anymore.” And then while tuning before “Saturday Night Rub,” he said to his guitar, “Come on, baby, don’t embarrass me in North Hollywood.” “Saturday Night Rub” was the only instrumental of the set.

They did a really good version of Willie Dixon’s “Bring It On Home,” kidding that Led Zeppelin was the first to record it (an allusion to the fact that Led Zeppelin failed to give Dixon writing credit on the album). Phil played harmonica on that one, and then during Jimmie Rodgers’ “Never No Mo’ Blues,” he did a bit of impressive yodeling, part of which got quite a bit of deserved applause from the crowd.

After that tune, the audience noise had gotten to be a bit much again, leading to some angry hushing from a lot of folks. Dave quickly smoothed over the situation by saying, “You got ‘em all riled up, Phil.” They then went into “The Stuff They Call Money,” with Phil on harmonica. This song was one of the highlights for me, and it featured some playful vocal interactions between Dave and Phil.

They closed their set with “Marie Marie,” a crowd favorite. Dave joked beforehand, “It’s going to be out of tune but, you know what, that never stopped us before.” A live version of this song was included on The Blasters’ Live 1986, which was released in 2011.

A standing ovation brought them out again for an encore. Dave said, “I don’t know what we’re going to do,” which of course led to some shouted requests from the audience. One of the songs requested was “Please, Please, Please,” which they did. But first they played “How You Want It Done,” another Big Bill Broonzy tune. It was very cool, but “Please, Please, Please” blew me away. Phil just totally let it rip on vocals. An incredible ending to one of the best sets of music I’ve seen this year.

Set List
  1. All By Myself
  2. Key To The Highway
  3. Saturday Night Rub
  4. Bring It On Home
  5. Never No Mo’ Blues
  6. The Stuff They Call Money
  7. Marie Marie
  1. How You Want It Done
  2. Please, Please, Please
The Federal Bar is located at 5303 Lankershim Blvd., in North Hollywood.

Here are a few photos from their set:

"All By Myself"
"Key To The Highway"
"Never No Mo' Blues"
"Never No Mo' Blues"
"Marie Marie"
Joking between songs in the encore

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the write up and photos. I really wanted to be there, but couldn't make it happen. Such a bummer about chatter, Especially when it's just 2 musicians w/ no back up band. It makes me wonder why these people are in attendance? thanks again, always love to get a 1st hand account, if i can't be there myself!