The Third Mind

Latest News: The Blasters appeared in a photo in Entertainment Weekly magazine (December, 2019) in a story about Peter Ivers, the host of a 1980's cult music TV show called New Wave Theater. -- BMG has launched a new record label called Renew Records that focuses on American Roots and Americana music. An upcoming release called The Suitcase Junket is an Americana-inspired railroad compilation featuring well-known and original train songs from various artists including Dave Alvin. -- Dave Alvin and John Sebastian played NIGHT OWL BLUE on Feb. 29 at the Alex Theater in Glendale, CA to benefit the Autism Think Tank and served as a celebration of the music of The Lovin' Spoonful. --   Dave Alvin produced an album for singer/songwriter/guitarist Carolyn Wonderland in Austin, TX in January. Guests on the as yet untitled album include Cindy Cashdollar and Marcia Ball. (((cont. on page 2 )))

The current state of The Blasters

Keith Wyatt:    "Since last Fall, Phil has been in and out of the hospital a couple of times for conditions that are non-life-threatening but do require care and recuperation. He got out again right before the CV situation hit so he's now practicing self-isolation like everybody else and is improving overall. With no pressure to get back on stage for a while due to the current situation, a small silver lining is that he can take all the time he needs to fully recover.
All shows that were booked for this year had already been canceled before CV shut everything down, but like every other live band, the Blasters now are on hold for the foreseeable future. So far, everybody's fine and we're all holed up in our different houses here in L.A. Once things start to lighten up, we'll make plans to get back together, start rehearsing and assess the next steps. It may take a while before we're back on stage, but we're all looking forward to the day it happens.
Meanwhile, thanks to all the people who have expressed their concern and support for Phil. We hope that everyone stays safe and that all of us are able to enjoy the simple pleasure of seeing friends and family again before long. Long live American Music!"

In This Issue:  Dave Alvin's new band The Third Mind, a Chris Gaffney Tribute show, and Dave Alvin's Poetic Performances.

Jesse: Well, thank you. "Haunting" is what I was hoping for. It's always humbling to cover someone else's song -- especially one with so many beautiful interpretations. Truth be told, I was only familiar with a few versions -- The Grateful Dead being the main one. I had no idea there were so many renditions and that it was written by a woman, Bonnie Dobson.
When I did some delving and I heard her version and also watched a clip of she and Robert Plant performing it together -- it changed the game for me. I suppose I wanted to pay homage to her in some sense, for having written such a beautiful song, but also for the new understanding of what the song is really saying -- which for me, translated into trying to convey a deep maternal element -- universal, but intimate in a sort of microscopic way. The way a mother would sing a lullaby to a child, while a sinister energy brews in the background. She's having to sing to her child, but she's comforting herself, faced with the knowledge that she has to let her child "go" to something bigger than the two of them.
It's not that others didn't probably sing it from that exact same vantage point, but it's just that I'd only heard men sing it -- so I sort of envisioned that it was being sung to a lover vs. a child. Seemingly small stuff, until you are confronted with trying to do a song justice!

American Music: How did the recording process go for THE DOLPHINS on which Dave sings lead? Did you do the vocals together?

Jesse:  We attempted to sing it at the same time and cut the whole thing live, but I ended up overdubbing my vocals. Dave and I had never sung it together, and I was having a hard time finding the subtle pocket and locking in with him. Aside from that momentary challenge, it was magical getting to witness the song come to fruition. I actually got tears in my eyes at some point while Dave was cutting his vocal.

American Music: Since the album only has six songs, will you be performing any of your songs on The Third Mind tour?

Jesse: This tour will be all covers, as far as I know. We are in the process now of deciding on the extra song, or songs that I'll be singing. It'll be a good challenge to do this on the fly, as there will be very few rehearsals--so we will have to be serving the music in a way that will be challenging, but exhilarating. I mean ultimately it's what music is meant to be about--listening to each other on a level where you aren't listening--but that can get overlooked in many musical situations, due to song structure dictating and holding you on a short leash. My guess is that each night will offer a lot of variation, and hopefully it'll be as exciting for the audience as it is onstage! --AM

The next song Dave played was a song called RUN CONEJO RUN also from the Eleven Eleven album. It was a song Dave wrote about Chris Gaffney's boxing days. Dave didn't have to tell a story about the song. The lyrics tell it all.

Run Conejo Run

When his old man would hit the bottle he would kick Conejo's ass
So with a wounded heart Conejo swore he would outrun his past.                  Run Conejo Run

He boxed lightweight at the Olympics out in dirty old L.A.
And he earned his golden gloves by putting sixteen fighters away

But the seventeenth one nailed him and blinded his right eye
So with battered fingers and a busted brain he kissed the ring goodbye       Run Conejo Run

He was singing in a barroom on the night we first crossed paths
And we'd known each other all our lives but we finally met at last

And then we rode these highways twenty years fueled by beer and nicotine
From New York down to Nogales and every joint in between                            Run Conejo Run

And he told me his life story his loves and his regrets
From the hot streets of Tucson to the cold prison cell up in Quebec

His ex-wives and lovers and all the promises they believed
And his daughter down in Louisiana that he never wanted to leave.               Run Conejo Run

Now it's three hours past midnight and I'm riding down interstate ten
A hundred miles east of El Paso and I'm thinkin' of my dear friend

Now I know I can't see you but I can feel you by my side
So light up a cig Conejo and let's go for another ride

FOURTH OF JULY - For the last song Dave said "This is the Chris adjacent section of the show. It's a song that he used to do with Dale (Daniel) and the Hacienda Brothers in their show. A few times he got me up there to sing with him. He always said to me that this was his favorite song. Chris had a cracked / chipped front tooth. So, whenever I'm on stage singing this, I still look to my left where he would be standing, and look for that cracked tooth to be smiling at me."

From the Editor -- Hey American Music fans, Thanks as always for writing in with your kind comments. They are appreciated. I'm always looking for more content about our favorite American Music makers so if you would like to write a story about your experiences, or a show review, or even just some photos you have -- please send them to I'm open to ideas.
I'd also like to bring back the "Questions for the Band" column. If you have any questions for any of the musicians covered in these pages, send them. I'll try to get answers to print in the newsletter.
Thanks  --Billy Davis

January 2003 and a note cautioning "out of print, limited availability." In its brief description, Amazon says the book "offers versified portraits of Los Angeles and life on the road after too much nicotine and beer."

     While the wait for a follow-up continues, Dave has continued to write and feature his poetry in occasional spoken-word performances since the late 1990s.

     ROBERT JOHNSON'S CIGARETTE and CORNFLAKES is a pair of new poems he delivered in a reading in Jamestown, N.Y., on Sept. 22, 1997. ROBERT JOHNSON'S CIGARETTE is a reflection on a postage stamp issued to honor the legendary bluesman and the questionable decision to airbrush a cigarette out of his photograph. CORNFLAKES is a humorous account of Dave's unsuccessful audition as a voiceover artist to promote a breakfast cereal and how it would have been a good fit for one of his spoken-word recordings of the 1980s. Ultimately, Dave would find success in the field as a commercial spokesman for Jim Beam bourbon. Both poems were likely candidates for The Crazy Ones before the publication was canceled.

    TOAD MEETS LITTLE JULIAN HERRARA is a poem that once was posted on Dave's site. Conceived as a tribute to Gerald Locklin, one of his English professors and poetry mentor at California State University - Long Beach. The poem was read by Dave at a retirement ceremony for Locklin in 2008. The reading was aired on the Off-Ramp radio show on May 17, 2008, and can be heard at The poem also was published in Some for The Road, a collection of poetry written by Locklin's former students.

    In December 2015, Dave premiered three poems that show his range as a writer during a poetry reading in Santa Monica, CA.

    CHRIS GAFFNEY HATES POETRY was inspired by a conversation Dave and Chris had while on the road in a van between Denver and Kansas City. The reading focuses on a humorous, if barbed, discussion on the merits of poetry and public readings.

    An untitled poem details Dave's relationship with Laura Cloud, who helped him publish Nana, Big Joe and the Fourth of July and shows his eye for detail as he traces her ups and downs. The video of the nearly eight-minute poem doesn't start at the beginning. Dave also recited the lyrics of OUT OF CONTROL, the song that appears on Ashgrove, his 2004 album.