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Roots-Rock Heroes the Blasters Bring Good Times To Alameda

By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Making their unique mix of rockabilly, country, early rock and roll, blues and R&B for nearly four decades, SoCal roots-rock greats the Blasters bring their indelible sound to the East Bay when the band headlines the Tiny Towns outdoor concert series in Alameda early Saturday evening.

Brothers Phil and Dave Alvin grew up in Downey, California, and developed and early interest in rockabilly, country and other guitar-focused roots music. The pair saw performances by such six-string heroes as Chet Atkins and Leo Kottke and by their teens were regularly attending shows by legendary blues vocalist Big Joe Turner from gig to gig in Los Angeles.

The Blasters - Barn Burning 1980 by Focus Fotoart on YouTube

The new band would record it's debut independent album American Music over two days in a living room studio, bashing out a mix of originals and songs by the likes of Billy Haley and Jimmie Rogers that wiped away the boundaries between roots-music styles. Along with country/rockabilly-influenced punk group X and East LA contemporaries Los Lobos, the Blasters brought a sense of history to the sonic stew of the Los Angeles scene. The band's reputation as a firebrand live act led to tour dates with acts as varied as psychobilly icons the Cramps, country heroes Asleep at the Wheel and '70s rock favorites Queen.

The Blasters Long White Cadillac 17 08 1985 Loreley Germany 360p by roffe persson on YouTube

The band would sign to Slash/Warner Bros. for their acclaimed eponymous sophomore album in 1981, a record that established the Blasters as one of the top rising rock bands in the U.S. Two more hit records -- Non Fiction in 1983 and Hard Line two years later -- would follow before Dave Alvin departed for his own successful solo career. In his absence, a string of celebrated guitarists would fill his shoes, including X guitar player Billy Zoom, James Intveld and future Beck guitarist Smokey Hormel.

While Phil Alvin would also delve into solo territory with a pair of albums, the Blasters would remain his main creative outlet into the '90s and beyond. The brothers have reunited periodically both in the band they co-founded and for a pair of more recent blues-soaked albums, but the Blasters have been touring and recording with the current line-up featuring guitarist Keith Wyatt for the last two decades with 2012's Fun on a Saturday Night being the group's most recent effort.


BIG SANDY & HIS FLY RITE BOYS Fine Fine Superfine @ Avondale Towne Cinema 2017 by MUSIC in ATLANTA on YouTube

For this show in Alameda in the outdoor area next door to the Fireside Lounge being presented in partnership with the Ivy Room Saturday, the Blasters will be joined by Nashville Honeymoon, the musical partnership of Hank Maninger (Bonnie Hayes and the Wild Combo, the Hacienda Brothers) and his wife, Lynne Maes, that explores traditional honky tonk.

The Blasters
Saturday, Oct. 2, 6 p.m. $35-$210
Fireside Lounge Outdoor Park

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