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This Issue: Dave Alvin's HighTone Years CD, The 1st Annual Dog and Pony Show, and the first Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women show is reviewed.

Man of Somebody'sDreams CD Track Listing

Joe Ely - Lift Your Leg          Jim Lauderdale - Glasshouse
Boz Scaggs - Midnight Dream       Iguanas - Get Off My Back Lucie
Los Lobos - Man of Somebody's Dreams   Alejandro Escovedo - 1968
Dave Alvin - Artesia           Robbie Fulks - King of the Blues
Peter Case - Six Nights A Week       John Doe - Quiet Desperation
Tom Russell - If Daddy Don't Sing Danny Boy Dave Gonzalez - Tired of Being Me
Calexico - Frank's Tavern         Big Sandy and Los Straitjackets - Silent Partner
James McMurtry - Fight (Tonight's the Night) Dan Penn - I'm So Proud
Freddie Fender - The Gardens       Chris Gaffney - The Guitars of My Dead Friends

Dave Alvin's new CD --- Best of the HighTone Years

project. So it seemed a little quick.
AM: The hardcore fans will buy this CD because it has a few unreleased tracks. Tell us about those selections - first the full band versions of DRY RIVER and OUT IN CALIFORNIA.
DA: Those two were cut when I was recording songs for a documentary with Mark Linett. We recorded them just to document them - not really intended for release at that time. It was right around the time I left HighTone records. DIXIE HIGHWAY BLUES (a self accompanied acoustic blues) was recorded during the Black Jack David sessions. The song morphed into NEW HIGHWAY, and then I decided to put out NEW HIGHWAY instead.
AM: WHY DID SHE STAY WITH HIM live comes off of your self-released 2003 Outakes In California CD. The studio version was on the Blue BLVD release. How do those versions compare?
DA: When we made the Blue BLVD album, we cut the song a few times and had a lot of trouble with it. I thought the live version was more relaxed and I got a better vocal performance on it, so I choose that for the "Best of" collection.
Choosing songs for this CD could have gone a variety of ways. I decided to go down the middle. We had more songs listed for the release, but ran into a space limitation. If you ask me today if other songs should be on there, I'd say: "BARN BURNING from
King of California." I had to make a decision about KITCHEN TABLE, which I think is one of the best songs I've ever written. I didn't include it because I thought maybe it would be too much of a downer for people.
We were gonna put one of the songs (RAILROAD BILL or HOW YOU WANT IT DONE) from the Monsters of Folk EP on there; then I decided to limit myself. I also decided there would be no Blasters songs, because you can get the first versions on
Testament: the Complete Blasters recordings (Rhino Records).
AM: It's interesting that there is only one song, SHENENDOAH, from your Grammy award winning album Public Domain: Songs From The Wild Land (2000).
DA: Well, I wanted the collection to be just Dave Alvin songs. If any of my HighTone back catalog of CDs were out of print, I may have chosen a different lineup of songs.
AM: Tell us about the Katy Moffatt duet on THE CUCKOO.
DA: When I produced Katy's record Loose Diamond in 1999 (HighTone), we were looking for a duet to do. We both loved that old folk song. Sometimes duets are best when you take a song that wasn't a duet and turn it into one. I did that with WHAT AM I WORTH (King Of California 1994, HighTone) and HERE IN CALIFORNIA (West of the West 2006, Yep Roc).
So when I was trying to choose a duet for this collection, I was 'flipping a coin' to use a duet I did with Christy McWilson called 805 on her second HighTone album (
Bed Of Roses, 2002) or THE CUCKOO. Katy's record got a lot of attention when it came out, so I went with that track. I thought it was a real good vocal performance by the both of us, and Brantley Kearns and Rick Shea played great.
AM: Is there anything unreleased that didn't make it on the collection?
DA: There was an unreleased song from the Blue BLVD sessions that was not very good, but had a great Lee Allen solo. It shall remain nameless.
AM: Was there any remastering done to any of the songs for this release?
DA: Everything was re-mastered. MUSEUM OF HEART, 30 DOLLAR ROOM, WANDA and DUANE and HALEY'S COMET were all remixed because the sound quality was so drasti

Dave Alvin comments: The shows were great, but right now I have a bad taste in my mouth. We have a problem because Safari Sam's club went out of business and hasn't paid us the advanced ticket sales money we raised for the musicians. Every musician at least once over the years has been stiffed for money on a gig and that's one thing -- but it's another thing to stiff people with cancer.

The actual benefit was great. It was one long three day night. It was an emotional time especially on the Gaffney night with Mrs Gaffney there.

Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women  -- October 4, 2008
San Francisco, CA at The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

Songwriters: Dave Alvin and Tom Russell       by Tom Wilk

Tom Russell and Dave Alvin were label-mates on HighTone Records for nearly a decade. They have also collaborated as songwriters and worked together on stage and in the studio.
Veterans Day: The Tom Russell Anthology, a two-CD, 37-song, career-spanning compilation on Shout! Factory, includes four songs co-written with Dave: "Haley's Comet," "Out in California," "California Snow" and "Down The Rio Grande."
The anthology also includes a duet of Tom and Dave on a live version of "Blue Wing," recorded at the Off Broadway club in St. Louis in 1996. "Blue Wing" was recorded by Dave on his
King of California CD in 1994. This version of "Out in California" is from The Rose of the San Joaquin, Tom's first release on HighTone (1995), produced by Dave.
In the liner notes to
The Long Way Around, a 1997 CD by Tom that featured Dave on two songs, Dave discussed his admiration of Tom: "Tom Russell's songs changed my life. A few years ago, I was broke and fed up with being a songwriter. I was staying at an empty apartment in Nashville, cynically dreaming of making big money writing songs that said nothing, when Gary Velletri (now a senior vice president at Bug Music in New York City) gave me a tape of a songwriter. I was floored. There was no bullshit in the songs, no lies, nobody telling you things they thought you wanted to hear just to make a buck," he wrote.
"The songwriter was Tom Russell and I was jealous of him. As I listened, I threw away my idea of writing songs that didn't mean anything, and ever since then, whenever I write a song, I ask myself if it's as good as one of Tom's. Tom Russell is one of the best, and I'm still jealous."
"Haley's Comet" is the first collaboration between the two and was released by Tom on his 1990 CD
Hurricane Season. Dave followed a year later with his own version on Blue Blvd. Their versions differ considerably. In a verse where Haley remembers playing a concert in 1955, Dave sings "the screams of the children filled the hall." Tom's version substitutes "women" for children.
Tom spoke of the origins of the song in a recent e-mail interview. "Bill Haley was the first rocker I heard. I opened my parents' windows and blasted the neighbors with "Rock Around the Clock." Revolutionary. He died unknown in Harlingen, Texas. America has a short memory. Dave Alvin and I labored over this, one night in a New York City hotel room," he wrote. "We called up John Swenson in the middle of the night to check the facts. John wrote a bio of Haley. Later, Doug Sahm and the Texas Tornados recorded it. That version is on my
Wounded Heart CD."
While the two have not written together recently, Tom holds out hope for future collaborations. "Dave and I always talk about writing 'the big one.' It's out there somewhere. Our "Desolation Row."

AMERICAN  MUSIC: The Blasters / Dave Alvin newsletter
editor/writer: Billy Davis      editorial assistant: Craig Frischkorn   contributing writer Tom Wilk
Publishing 4 issues quarterly.  www.Blastersnewsletter.com