THE BLASTERS "ORIGINAL 5" REUNION TOUR DAILY REPORT MARCH 6-10, 2002
Check back every day for a new report about the tour's progress.
3/11/02 -- Aftermath: Well friends, this was quite a week of Blasterness. I hope you
enjoyed reading the daily tour diary as much as I enjoyed writing it. But, let me
apologize for my horrendous typos, spelling, and such. I'm trying to get out of this with
My day typically began with driving to the next town. Soundcheck and load in was in mid
afternoon. Then there was just enough time for dinner (and sometimes not) then the doors
open and showtime. After the show we had a few hours to socialize. I had the great
pleasure of meeting face to face with a lot of fellow friends that I've only known over
the years through letters and e-mail. Next, we would load out the band and make our way to
the hotel at 2 or 3 AM. I would have to write these Tour Diary updates on my primitive,
$75, thrift store laptop (which freezes up half the time), and send it by e-mail back to
my lovely wife at home in New York (theres a three hour time zone difference from
California) for her to enter it on the web site in the early dawn hours. Add on top of
that my obligation to team play in the Blasters crew; the motto (and T-shirt design) that
says Blasters&Beer, and it all equals a tough, hard-to-keep-the-eyes-open situation
I'm not complaining. It was great time and I wouldnt trade a minute or a second of it.
Let me thank The Blasters, managment, the tour crew, and the venue staff for letting me
into the Blasters world and behind the scenes on their home turf to document such a
The Blasters and their entourage are some of the nicest people in the world, so don't
hesitate to approach them at the shows to say hello or to ask for an autograph.
And thank you to my fellow Blasters / Dave Alvin fans whose endless energy powers these
great musicans to play their American Music.
Check back soon at www.BlastersNewsletter.com for a very extensive, day by day, story on
the Blasters reunion tour. There will be lots of great photos as well. Have A Blast
3/10/02 -- The Blasters at The Mystic theatre in Petaluma.
Saturday's L.A. Times calender section featured a big story with color photos of Dave and
the Blasters. Great exposure and some honest comments from the brothers about the reunion
tour and the Rhino released CD
The band prepared for their final reunion gig today at Sound check. Phil Alvin showed up
(which is rare) and the band lossened up playing a bunch of old blues songs. Phil even
played Gene's piano doing interpertaions of old Jazz guitar player / singers.songs. The
Blasters are ready.
The Blasters set list: Red Rose, Trouble Bound, Flattop Joint, I'm Shakin, Long White
Cadillac, Crazy Baby, Help You Dream, Common Man, Blue Shadows, No Other Girl, Hollywood
Bed, Too Tired, Tag Along, Dark Night, Border Radio, So Long Baby Goodbye, and American
Music. They came out for two encores playing One Bad Stud and Marie Marie.
It was a crazy night, typical because it was the last night of the tour
Gene Tayor takes a solo on the song Hollywood Bed and the way he comes out of it is to
watch for Phil to to approchce the microphone. Tonight Phil stood back, smiled and let
Gene take a very long but tatsteful solo.
Tom Waits was at the show and was seen after the show hanging around with Phil.
The guitar player from Top Jimmy and the Rhythm pigs showed up and stood in front of Phil.
Carlos Guitarlos was his name and Phil spent the rest of the evening, teasing Carlos and
interacting with people from the audience in front of him
The song Dark Night was a special treat. Dave Alvin gave the song alot extra in his
arrangemnt. Dave was in rare form, giving up two of his trademark leaps in the air.
At the end of the regular set the Blasters waited to be called for an encore. The whole
band came out except for Phil Alvin. They expected to play One Bad Stud but Phil didnt
show up on the stage. Dave led the band into an instrumental as Phil ran to the stage. He
picked up the song , but it already had a different feel to I. The band went off again and
this time there was a long delay. Maybe the Alvins were having a discission over the
delayed start to One Bad Stud. Gene Taylor and Bill Batmen started playing a piano and
drums jam keeping the crowd going crazy. Unfortuately the time had reached 11:00 PM, some
kind of curfew for the club must have been in effect because the house lights came in.
This just drove the crowd crazyer. Could the Blasters leave without doing Marie Marie? The
crowd wouldnt hear of that and began stomping on the floor. The Blasters finally emerged
and launched into Marie Marie. A perfect song for a situation like the is. This the last
song to be played by the original five Blasters
Dave Alvin appeared shakin up by the confusion of the end of the show and called out the
band members names and said "see "you in thirty years." In previous shows
Dave had been saying "See yuu in twenty years." The show is over, the tour Is
over, the Blasters reunion is now over. The fans leave stunned!!
3/9/02 -- The Blasters at Slims in San Francisco
Slims, a big name in the San Francisco club scene but small in capacity at 460 people. The
place ws sold out weeks in advance. Here was the set list: Red Rose, Trouble Bound,
Flattop Joint, I'm Shakin, Long White Cadillac, Crazy Baby, Help You Dream, Common Man,
Blue Shadows, No Other Girl, Hollywood Bed, Too Tired, Tag Along, Dark Night, Border
Radio, So Long Baby Goodbye, and American Music. They came out for two encores playing One
Bad Stud and Marie Marie. The set was just about the same as the night before. The recipe
is working so the Blasters dont want to fool with the set list.
The show strarted out rough as Phil didnt have his amplifier turned on or plugged in. It
took a little away from the continuity of the Lee Allen tribute opening song into the
opening Blasters song.
In Long White Cadillac Bill Bateman starting hitting the drums so hard that it looked like
he was going to break the skins. Bass player John Bazz turned to face the drums wondering
what the commotion was all about. Bill later said he was angered by one of the other
Blasters and was taking it out on the drums. Let me tell you, Bill really got the
audience's attention. Everyone was focused on Bill.
Gene taylor was very animated tonight getting the crowd going and in typical rock n roll
fashion, was pounding down beers all through the set. He had a tub of beer in ice at his
feet and at one point pulled a bottle out and gave one to an aiduince member in front of
The Blasters have been sounding great on the club sound system just like the old days.
That should be credited to the Blasters choice to use their own sound men at the shows.
Two guys have split the shows, Rick Brown and a guy nick named Baboo. Both these guys
toured extensively with the Blasters in the 80's and know their sound better than anybody.
It was another great night for the Blasters who are already a well oiled machine. Four
down and one to go.
3/8/02 -- The Blasters at The House Of Blues in Los Angeles CA -- The Blasters played
to a sold out crowd in their home town. Many fans had to be turned away. Here was the set
list: Red Rose, Trouble Bound, Flattop Joint, I'm Shakin, Long White Cadillac, Crazy Baby,
Help You Dream, Common Man, Blue Shadows, No Other Girl, Hollywood Bed, Too Tired, Tag
Along, Dark Night, Border Radio, I Wish You Would, So Long Baby Goodbye, and American
Music. They came out for two encores playing One Bad Stud and Marie Marie.
Another great Blasters night of course. I neglected to mention in the opening show review,
something very special I noticed about Dave Alvin. I got chills down my spine when Dave
came to the stage at the first show wearing his red neckerchief. That neckerchief is very
special to him. He wore it in the old Blasters days, put it away for many years and
finally took it out for one very special occasion last year: When he attended and won his
Grammy award. Now he has takeen it out again to wear on this tour.
Dave has a lot of sentiment for this reunion. He had the idea emntioned in the earlier
shows about the Lee Allen shrine on the side of the stage. I thought that was brilliant.
Dave has other subtle ways of showing his admiration for the Lee Allen legacy. If you
watch carefully at some point in the show, Dave lights a cigarette and continues to play
guitar. Once per show while his hands are free from the guitar, he steps next to the photo
of Lee on the chair shrine and puts the cigarette to lee's mouth for a toke.
It was a special event show not only because it was a home towm crowd but because it was
being recorded by the Blasters for a possible live album. A couple from Finland traveled
12,000 miles to the show and got engaged during Crazy Baby. Phil Alvin met with them after
the show to personally congratulate them.
The Blasters played hard. So hard that everybody broke guitar strings. Phil broke two on
successive guitars and even bass player John Bazz broke a string. Gene Taylor got into the
act being very animated through the show. He stood up and got the whole audience clapping,
he ran behind the stage to get beer, and at one point coaxed Phil Alvin into pouring water
on his head to cool him down. The night before Phil playfully poured a bottle on his head
forgetting tht it was Gatorade. That must have been a sticky situation - and might have
contributed to Gene's regular piano failing to stay in tune at the House of Blues
A pleasent surprise was the last minute call by Phil for the song I Wish You Would. By
this third show of the tour, the band has their arrangments down pat and Dave is really
shining on some of the extended guitar solo endings to songs like Common Man, Too Tired
and American Music. All the Blasters are giving their all to these shows, but Dave really
has the fire in his playing and its a great thrill to watch him.
During American Music the crowd starts to go crazy and Dave takes a rockin solo. Tonight
he started moving out of his stage-right position towards the middle. Phil from his
stage-left spot started coming closer to Dave just staring at Dave but strumming away with
his trademark grimaced facea long. I could feel something happening there with Phil
stepping towards Dave. I think they made come kind of connection there. There has been
much talk of these brothers fighting over the years and generally dissagreeing for the
sake of taking the other side. But I think with age they have a mutual respect. Dave was
always the little brother but has proven to become a great success on his own and Phil is
proud of that.
On to the San Francisco treat -- The Blasters at Slims.
3/7/02 -- The Blasters at The Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana CA -- The Blasters geared up
for another show today a little closer to L.A. but in Orange County. They hoped to erase a
bad memory from the previous night in San Diego. A hat was stolen from the stage that
belonged to Sax legend Lee Allen. The situation was that the Blasters have had a chair in
the stage with a saxophone, Lee's picture, and his favorite bottle of liquor as a tribute
to his memory. Also on that chair was a cap that was a gift to a member of the Blasters
crew from Lee Allen many years ago. Its a prized possession that is a great loss.
It's hoped that who ever took the cap thought it was just an ordinary cap and might return
it now knowing how special it is.
The Blasters minus Phil Alvin gathered for sound check and Dave showed how much fun he is
having playing with these guys. He pulled out songs that wont get played in the set. Today
featuring songs from the Rollin Rock album. They played Lone Wolf, Real Rock Drive, I fell
In Love, then a little bit of Tail Dragger.
Again they opened with Red Rose and ran through this set list: Trouble Bound, Flattop
Joint, I'm Shakin, Long White Cadillac, Crazy Baby, Help You Dream, Blue Shadows, Common
man, No Other Girl, Hollywood Bed, Too Tired, Tag Along, Dark Night, Border Radio, So Long
Baby Goodbye, and American Music. The came out for two encores playing One Bad Stud and
The set was the same as the previous night with the addition of So Long Baby Goodbye. The
show was recorded by engineer Mark Linett for a possible Blasters live album.
Lee Allens widow Tiny Allen was at the show. Phil dedicated Too Tired to her. Phil
continues to use his decade long dedication for the song Help You Dream. He says,
"This goes out my brother who is in a bar lying to a girl." Ofcourse we know
dave is standing right next to him.
The fans got a real treat tonight when Bill Bateman and John Bazz stood at the merchandise
counter and sold T-shirts and posters.
It was another great show. The band seems to be getting better each night. Next stop: Home
turf Los Angeles.
3/6/02 -- The Blasters at 4th and B in San Diego CA -- Today was the big day. The
original 5 Blasters performing for the first time in 16 plus years. The Blasters came in
early to soundcheck and ran through some extra songs not covered in their rehearsals. Phil
Alvin, not a big fan of soundchecks, was there. They played a song that probably wont ever
make it into a Blasters show - SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING.
The band was sound extremely tight proving that three days of rehearsals paid off. Phil
was in a great mood and played a few country blues songs that Ive never heard him do
before. he even hoped on Gene Taylors piano and played some up-tempo stuff
accompanied by his own vocal.
4th and B is a great venue for the Blasters to open the tour. The high stage and top of
the line lighting rig made for good viewing anywhere. There was standing on the flor,
tables in the back, and inclined theatre seating. All of it equaling a few thousand
Hours later the Beat Farmers with Buddy Blue opened the show. Phil Alvin arrived looking
real cool in his long black coat. The whole band was looking good and ready to play their
first reunion show.
The lights went down in the club, the crowd roared and a recording of Lee Allens hit
song WALKIN WITH MR LEE played over the house PA. A spot light faded to bright on a chair
with a saxophone, Lee Allens original hat, a bottle of Johnny Walker Black, and an
LP record with Lees picture. Lee Allen was a legendary sax player who mentored and
played with the Blasters in their early days. Lee passed away in 1994 and is not forgotten
judgeing by such a classy tribute. When the song ended, Buddy Blue announced the band to
the stage telling the audience how influencial to his band and all bands from the
1980, the Blasters are.
They opened with Red Rose and ran through this set list: Trouble Bound, Flattop Joint,
Long White Cadillac, Crazy Baby, Help You Dream, Im Shakin, Blue Shadows, Common
man, No Other Girl, Hollywood Bed, Too Tired, Tag Along, Dark Night, Border Radio, and
American Music. The came out for two encores playing One Bad Stud and Marie Marie.
The performance was just spectacular. I cant imagine this band ever being better. And the
audience walked away very satisfied. Phil Alvin sweated, showed the grimacing face and
sang beautifully. Dave Alvin cranked out all his great riffs, jumped in the air and
chugging notes on the guitar faster than the eye could see. Bill Bateman banged the drums
as hard as he did in the old days. Johnny Bazz wore his Blasters&Beer shirt and played
hard holding down the rhythm as he always does. Gene Taylor sang on Tag Along and showed
why as a piano player he is among the great ones. Phil Alvin has said that Gene is the
best player he has heard since Roosevelt Sykes (a legendary piano player from the
Merchandise was sold. Posters of the new Rhino album, a T- shirt titled The Blasters -
Original recipe with a cool old picture of the five on it, and a shirt that says
Also say "Happy Birthday" to Phil Alvin. Its funny though that we got the
What a show it was. This is a band that has to be seen live. This hay have been the best
concert I have ever seen and tour has only just started.
3/5/02 -- Reahearsals Day 3 -- The Blasters minus Phil Alvin got together for the final
day of rehearsals before the big tour. They spent a few hours fine tuning and making last
minute changes to arrangements and song endings.They rehearsed a few rare songs like Rock
N Roll Will Stand and a few others with the intent of being ready in case Phil pulls a
song title out of his hat.
In their last hour they ran through a potential set list, song by song as if they were
playing it live. Here was the set: Red Rose, Trouble Bound, Flattop Joint, Long White
Cadillac, Crazy baby, Common Man, No Other Girl, Hollywood Bed, Too Tired, Tag Along, Dark
Night, Blue Shadows, Im Shakin, American Music, and One Bad Stud. The encore songs
will be a last minute call by the band based on other songs they practiced. Of course
Marie Marie will be the final song.
The band really appears to be having fun playing together. Dave Alvin sang Im Shakin
with a whole new set of lyrics playfully teasing each of his band mates. He sang a verse
to each of them as they just laughed it off. That was a one time thing that youll
never hear in public.
They fooled around with some jamming on riffs from Boomtown and Highway 61 showing they
are really loose and feeling just like a band again.
Its a thrill to see Dave Alvin giving his all to playing the Blasters song note for note
as we heard them on the original recordings. At the shows, watch for Daves
trade-mark leaps during his solos on Crazy Baby and American Music. If the energy level is
there in rehearsals, the shows should be unprecidented in intensity.
The band got a look at some of the merchandise that will be available at the shows: An 18
X 36 poster of the Rhino records album cover that will be autographed by all five members
of the band. Also a T-shirt with the old Blasters red and blue logo with a famous picture
(from 1981) of the band leaning on top of a Randall guitar amplifier.
Today is also the day that the Testament: The complete Slash recordings was released.
The band is ready, the fans are ready so here we go. Countdown T minus 24 hours to Blast
Off in San Diego!!
3/3/02 -- Rehearsals day 1 --The Original 5 Blasters started rehearsals today in
Hollywood for their California reunion tour.The band spent 5 hours in an out-of-the-way
hole-in-the-wall-type rehearsal space to work up songs for the coming tour.
The instrumental members were all present and Phil wasn't. The thinking was, to rest Phil
Alvin's voice and have the four other band members tighten up all the arangments.
Remember, these five havent played together as a unit since 1986. There have been a few
jam sessions at Blasters gigs but not including all of the original guys.
Upon walking in to the studio, they made no special greeting to each other, they just
picked up where they left off when they were once a band. These guys all continue see each
other at other gigs or just to hang out together.
They ran through NO OTHER GIRL, BORDER RADIO, HOLLYWOOD BED, ONE BAD STUD, BLUE SHADOWS,
TROUBLE BOUND, CRAZY BABY, TOO TIRED, I FELL IN LOVE, REAL ROCK DRIVE, LONG WHITE CADILLAC
and a few others. The band sounds great as Dave Alvin still remembers all his classic
guitar riffs. He was right on the money as if he never stopped playing the songs. Dave
also sang some of the songs to cue the band to certain changes.
Dave Alvin's guitar tone sounds better than ever here with the Blasters. He says,
"Yeah cause now I'm allowed to play loud," but in all seriousness, Dave has
spent many years honing his unique guitar sound.
The four were unsure of what songs Phil Alvin would call out to play so they prepared a
list of what they might play.
John, Bill and Gene loaded out there equiptment to play a gig as the Blue Shadws.
3/4/02 -- Reahearsals Day 2 -- The band arrived today for another day of rehearsal. Phil
Alvin was expected to be there later in the day, again to rest his voice and not have him
singing for a full 4 hour rehearsal.
Starting out the day the band listened to a few of their original recordings on a boom box
to hear certain arrangments and how they have changed over the years.
They played a great version of TAG ALONG with Gene Taylor on lead vocals. Other songs
reheared were RED ROSE, TOO TIRED, and BLUE SHADOWS.
When Phil Alvin arrived, the original lineup was complete. They started playing TROUBLE
BOUND to a T like the original recording. Within minutes Phil Alvin was drenched in sweat
pouring out his heart and voice into each note, chugging away at the guitar with his
typical 100% intensity. Wow! And this was with no audience present. Phil doesnt let up.
And it was very obvious that the whole band feeds off each other and instantly stepped up
their level of playing as well.
They went on to play LOVE 24 HOURS A DAY, NO OTHER GIRL, I'M GLAD YOUR DEAD YOU RASCAL
YOU, and an intense version of CRAZY BABY. Phil pulled out an old blues song called ALL
YOUR LOVE and then really surprised everyone asking for the Hardline album song COMMON
MAN. That song has been out of the rotation for about ten years. They quickly worked out
where the olos and endings would be and the song was off and running.
A topic of conversation brought up the Lonesome Sundown song LEAVE MY MONEY ALONE. Phil
didnt know it was included as a bonus track on the forthcoming Blasters Rhino records set,
but wondered what brought hte song up since he hadnt played it for about ten years. So
what did Phil do, he played the song perfectly somehow remembering all the lyrics. The
Blasters fell right in it.
They finished the session as they did in their hows with ONE BAD STUD, a great finisher
with trade off solos by Gene Taylor and Dave Alvin.
A great day in Blasters history. It was probably the longest time in 15 years that the
Alvin brothers, let alone the rest of the original Blasters, Have spent that much time
togther in one sitting in a room playing music. They gelled perfectly and showed that
there is some magic there that cant be captured in any other situation than these guys
playing. There was a definite mutual resepct between them. They know that everyone had
something to offer to the Blasters and everybody equally contributed. Once again magic is
the only way to describe it. Day two of the rehearsals was over but not before Johnny,
Bill and Gene would do another gig as the Blue Shadows this time at he grand re-opning
night at the legendary King King club.