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This Issue: The Chris Gaffney Interview, Dave Alvin's New Year's 2000 Open Letter, and the Jack Daniels Lovers interview.

Greg Leisz. Brett Miller from the Old 97's did some harmony vocals. These sessions, along with sessions from last year, will come out on a yet-to-be-announced label. - Dave is shooting for July to submit his writings for publication of his new book of Poetry. Dave says, "Hopefully it will be out in the fall."  It will not be titled The Crazy Ones.- Dave Alvin recently got a computer and is now online surfing the Web. Watch the official web site WWW. DAVE ALVIN.COM for Dave's frequent contributions and answers to fans' questions. Chris Gaffney is following right along and says, "I'm getting a computer because everyone else has one. I'm going online baby! I'll be swimming with Alvin." - James Intveld will have a new album out on March 1. He will be playing SXSW in Austin in March. - Keith Wyatt has a new video out entitled Getting the Sounds: Jump, Jive and Swing on Warner Bros. Video. Keith, Jerry Angel, and John Bazz play on the video. Call Note Service Music at 1800 628-1528 to order the video. Keith reports, "I've been writing a series of profiles for Guitar World magazine. So far, I've done Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Albert King, and I just finished one on Freddie King. Also, I wrote a review of BB King's latest record of Louis Jordan tunes, a short review of Luther Allison's live CD and I'm currently working on a profile of Eric Clapton: Unplugged." -- Rick Shea's new CD called Shakey Ground. Is out and is available by mail-order by sending $16 post paid to Rick Shea, PO Box 294, Covina, CA 91723 - Rick Shea and Brantley Kearns are featured on a new CD from Cowgirl records titled, Hillbilly Down: To Roy Nichols with Love, Vol. 2. Singer Kathy Robertson put this CD as well as a first volume 1n 1997 called, To Roy Nichols with Love.  Merle Haggard plays as well as other California musicians. To mail-order send $15 to Kathy Robertson c/o Cowgirl Records, 1977 Yale St., Ontario, CA. 91764. - The Mike Eldred Trio have struck a distribution deal with Virgin records France. No word yet on its official release. -- AM

Dave Alvin is now online and wrote this open letter for the Dave Alvin web site reflecting on 1999.

"Life was perfect until I got out of the van.
Now, I know, no matter what happens,
don't get out of the van!" -Chris Gaffney    September 1999

Dear Friends, Fans and anyone else,  those are wise words from mysoul brother, Chris.
     It's the dawn of the next century/millennium, so they say. I'm sitting here at one in the morning, listening to old blues records by Leroy Carr, smoking too many menthols, trying to figure out how to work this computer I just bought and wishing I was back in the van with The Guilty Men somewhere on the interstate heading for another gig. The past two years have been filled with non-stop touring, with only a couple of breaks to produce CDs for The Derailers and Katy Moffatt, and now I'm back home starting to write the songs for my next CD and ( hopefully ) finally finish the second book of poems.

Resting at home is fine and all ( definitely much needed ) but I'd still rather be playing in some smoky bar. There were so many great shows the past two years:  The Bowery Ballroom in New York, Slim's in San Francisco, Antone's and The Continental Club in Austin, Skipper's in Tampa, Fitzgerald's in Chicago, The Strawberry Festival in Yosemite ( both electric and acoustic ), The Roxy in L.A., The Off Broadway in St. Louis, The Satellite in Houston, The Tin Angel in Philadelphia, Cibolo Creek in San Antonio, The Rialto in Tucson, City Stages in Birmingham . . . too many to mention them all. In fact,

just about any gig is memorable for me because I get to play with The Guilty Men ( I know you're probably thinking this sounds corny but I can't help that ). There were nights that I couldn't believe how lucky I am to have such an incredible band. Blues, folk, country, R & B, rock and roll, whatever I ask for, they can do it.
I've been extremely fortunate to have played in two of the best bands to ever plug in guitars, The Blasters and X, and I can tell you without any hesitation that Bobby Lloyd, Gregory, Rick and Joe are just as great. When incredible artists like Buddy and Julie Miller, Robbie Fulks, Chris Gaffney and Duane Jarvis were opening for us on many of these shows, The Guilty Men backed them up, with little or no rehearsal, and sounded jaw-droppingly great. I'm proud of them and I miss them. See ya soon in the van, I hope.
So many intense things happened the past two years. I don't want to leave out the tour The Guilty Men and I did opening for Bob Dylan, or touring solo and acoustic opening for Richard Thompson, two of my songwriting heroes ( Also, If you ever think that you're a hot-shot guitar player, Richard Thompson will erase that illusion very quickly! So will Buddy Miller. What guitar ego I had will never quite recover, oh well ). It was also fun to reunite with my old pals, The Knitters, for a west coast tour and some benefit shows.
Sometimes, between the constant touring, working on records and just getting the bills paid, it's hard to stay in touch with people you care about so it was great to be able to hang around each other again and make a righteous racket. There was even a night The Guilty Men and I were playing at The Blue Cafe in Long Beach, California, and all the original Blasters ( Gene Taylor, John Bazz, my brother, Phil, everyone except current Alaska boy, Bill Bateman ) got up on stage for the encore. With Bobby Lloyd filling in for Bill, we played almost a full set of Blasters songs and old blues songs we grew up with. It's hard to put into words how amazing that was. Just a bunch of old Downey guys.
Unfortunately, some dear friends, family and heroes passed away leaving some pretty large, unfillable holes in my heart. Donald Lindley was one of the best, nastiest, funkiest, wildest, greasy groove drummers in the universe. You might know him from his work over the years with Lucinda Williams, Rosie Flores, Joe Ely and Buddy and Julie Miller, but I was lucky enough to have him play on
Blue Boulevard and parts of Museum of Heart and King of California. Donald was a master musician, a patient teacher ( especially with me ), a proud father and husband, a good friend and a true rock and roller.
I got to know Mark Sandman many years ago when his first band, Treat Her Right, opened for my old band, The Allnighters, in Boston. Over the years from that first night through his success with Morphine, Mark's bluesy voice, jagged lyrics and willingness to experiment musically ( without ever losing his raw groove ) always blew me away. I'll always remember one time when I was depressed about making music and all the negative crap that sometimes comes with that, Mark slapped me out of it with a few quiet words. I can never thank him enough.
Doug Sahm has been a hero of mine since I was a kid and first saw The Sir Douglas Quintet on Hullabaloo singing SHE'S ABOUT A MOVER. Doug was one of the first to seamlessly blend blues, country, norteno, cajun and rock and roll in a classic mix of American Music. He was one of the people that taught me by example that there was no difference between T-Bone Walker, Hank Williams and Flaco Jimenez. I treasure the memory of a night last year at The Continental Club when Doug, The LeRoi Brothers, Gaffney and me jammed long after closing time. ( Billy Davis was smart enough to tape that night and Anita Sturgeongrrl was sweet enough to give me a copy, thanks. That tape means the world to me. ) Doug, for all his success and all the wild legends that surrounded him, was vastly underrated and now that he's gone I think many people are realizing  just how important he was. A true Texas original.
What can I say about Curtis Mayfield? I wrote a poem once about how seeing him perform one night made me want to play music again after a period of inactivity and fear. Just seeing him live changed my life, Curtis was that powerful! A songwriter equal to Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard and Chuck Berry, a guitarist of subtle complexity, a innovative record producer and a singer that the angels envy. He was the greatest. What else can you say?  Wherever you are, play on, Brothers!
Well, my rough plans for this new year/century include making a new studio album soon, followed pretty quickly with a new live album featuring all The Guilty Men singing (!) and, if he agrees, Chris Gaffney joining us for some songs. There are also some CDs I'm planning to produce in the near future, especially Mr. Gaffney's, one of the most soulful singing ex-boxers I've ever run across. There's talk about other stuff that's probably best left unsaid for right now, ya never know what might happen. Outside of all that, in the coming

Chris Gaffney Interview:  Getting Un-loose

AMERICAN MUSIC: Hearing Road To Indio for the first time was surprisingly the same Gaffney Style that we know of today. I thought you would be a little rough on the edges back then, but it's great stuff.
CHRIS GAFFNEY: Well, when I made that I was 36. So it's not like I was a young one. We made that in a studio (Studio One) in Riverside, California. We were sharing the studio with that band that made the song SUPERSONIC. That was kind of a techno-rap-supersonic (laughs)

News and Tidbits from the U.S West Coast

****The Knitters, Petaluma, CA 12/7/99 at the Mystic theatre --  A Very, VERY hot show. Towards the end of the night, John Doe told the crowd that they had felt a little trepidation coming out on stage, playing without Jonny Ray. But the Knitters put on such a hell of a show, and the crowd was so enthusiastic and so wild for them, that this was one of the best Knitters shows of the 7 I've been fortunate to see. Dave's playing was very different that night as he was compensating for the missing bass line by altering how he played. And his playing was just great, great, great. They were playing without Jonny Ray because Dave and Exene had taken Jonny Ray to the hospital Monday night, and Jonny had his appendix taken out on the afternoon of the show. He wasn't due out of the hospital until Thursday, but Jonny told them: 'Don't get another bass player for San Diego [their gig on Friday]. I'll be there! I'll play it!' He's such a great guy and such a trooper. (But I'm sure his doctor probably would have had something to say about this. And if his doc had any idea how energetic a performer Jonny Ray is when he's playing, his doc would probably have had even more to say.)
****In the fall Dave and Rick Shea toured with Buddy and Julie Miller. Dave was introducing Rick as "a great singer, a great songwriter..." and then he'd pause dramatically and then add: "a great killer of rattlesnakes..." At the Carrboro, NC, show, Dave joked that Rick had been out killing rattlesnakes that morning, which got everyone laughing, and to which Rick responded, "Yeah, different breed of rattlesnakes in these parts," which also got a lot of laughs from the locals. Well, the story behind it is this: This past August, Rick was out camping and a rattlesnake came meandering through the campground. And it passed through one family's camp after another, and there was a lot of concern, of course, because there were a lot of kids around, but everyone was aware of it and watching it, and the snake was passing calmly through the camps. And everyone thought: OK, no problem, it'll pass through the campground and be on its way. And everything looked fine. Until it came to Wyman Reese's tent. And decided to move in. And stayed. And wouldn't leave from under the tent. So finally, Rick had to kill it with an axe, and this was no little snake - it had 10 rows of rattles. Later, when Chris Gaffney heard that the snake had been under his band member's tent, Chris quipped: "Awww, I would have left it there! Why did you have to move it?!"

AMERICAN MUSIC -editor: Billy Davis        editorial assistant: Craig Frischkorn       format and layout: Tristan Currie-Davis
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