Thursday, June 12, 2014

Key to the Highway - Phil & Dave Alvin cover Big Bill Broonzy in Common Ground

I was introduced to The Blasters music in the late 1980's, a couple years after Dave & Phil Alvin had parted ways - but to this day - listen to The Blasters Collection monthly if not weekly. And Dave Alvin's solo CDs are always within easy reach. Thus, it is time to celebrate that the brothers have found Common Ground: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy - the early bluesman that influenced dozens of later blues and rock musicians and is best known for "Key to the Highway".

The CD was released June 3rd and I was able to listen to several early song releases as well as catch the brother's appearance with Mojo Nixon on Outlaw Country. The brothers resolved to cover Broonzy after Phil's death experience (yes, he flat-lined) in 2012 while in Spain since the bluesman is one subject they never argue about. During the interview they mentioned how Broonzy not only influenced Muddy Waters, but also the folk musicians of the early 1960s. He was also the first blues-man to venture to Europe and have a sustained success - where he influenced the skiffle bands and guitarists Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton.

The brothers cover Big Bill Broonzy in their own style, giving them a Blasters rockabilly edge - just check out "Feel So Good".  The brothers distinct voices add more flavor when they alternate vocals - "Key to the Highway" - and the musicianship is first rate. Dave's half Resonator guitar is pretty cool looking. "Tomorrow" and "Trucking Little Woman" are other favorites. Joining the brothers on the CD are The Blasters’ pianist Gene Taylor and bass and drum duties where split between Bob Glaub and Don Heffington on one hand and Dave's band mates Brad Fordham and Lisa Pankratz from The Guilty Ones.  Pair with Progress Brewing, Downey California's closest brewery. Cheers.

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