Dave Alvin – solo artist, and the widely respected/influential guitarist that helped make bands like The Blasters, The Knitters, and X revolutionary in their respective day, makes his way to the Avalon Theatre stage this Friday night in downtown Easton. These days, though, he comes packing not just a loaded guitar case that churns out hair-blowin’ roots-rock riffs…but a couple of very guilty women.
The poignant journey which culminated in Dave Alvin’s latest album, Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women, began on one of those
San Francisco fall days that seemed to melt back into the bay fog as slyly as it emerged. Dave Alvin was bounding off the
stage at the massive, free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Nearly before he was able to set foot on his beloved California
dirt, Alvin was grabbed by friend and Yep Roc label co-founder Glenn Dicker. “We’ve gotta make a record!”
The reason for Dicker’s excitement – and the excitement of the thousands of music fans who just witnessed it – was the
set Alvin and all female band The Guilty Women had just laid down moments before. Dave and band members Cindy
Cashdollar, Nina Gerber, Laurie Lewis, Christy McWilson, Sarah Brown, Amy Farris and Lisa Pankratz blazed through their
set, surprising each other at every turn. “It just felt so natural,” says Alvin. “It was like I had been playing with them for a
You couldn’t tell, watching him on stage that day, but the events in Alvin’s life that had led up to it were some of the most
trying of his life. Six months before, Guilty Men accordionist Chris Gaffney passed away following a valiant battle with
cancer. Gaffney wasn’t only the accordionist in Alvin’s band, he was his best friend.
As support and well wishes flowed to Gaffney’s family from friends and fellow musicians, Alvin set out calling some of the
biggest names in roots music to come together to honor is fallen friend. The result, Man of Somebody’s Dreams: A Tribute to
the Songs of Chris Gaffney will be released by Yep Roc along side Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women on 5/26/09. Artists
and friends like Calexico, Los Lobos, Alejandro Escovedo, James McMurtry and many more coalesced for an album of
Gaffney songs benefiting his family and the non-profit Hungry for Music, who provide musical instruments to underprivileged
children (hungryformusic.org). “The response from the artists was immediate,” remarks Alvin. “They all wanted a chance to
help Chris’ family and most of all, a chance to pay tribute to him and his songs!”
With the catharsis of the tribute album project in tow, Alvin turned his attention to his next musical move. One thing was
clear, he knew he wasn’t yet ready to record with The Guilty Men again. The wound of Gaffney’s death was still too fresh,
the space on the stage where he once stood still too empty. Alvin decided now was the time for something new. Knowing
Hardly Strictly was just up the tracks, he called friend and Austin-based guitarist Cindy Cashdollar. Cashdollar jumped in
with both feet and the other ladies followed suit. Having played together in various incarnations with several Guilty Women
in the past, Alvin was confident the chemistry would be right. “The reality that we’d never played together as a group and
that there was no time to rehearse before our debut performance didn’t bother me at all. I knew that they were all master
musicians who could easily handle any sort of song I could throw at them. And that’s exactly what they did and they did it
effortlessly and beautifully.”
The Austin, TX recording sessions progressed in much the same fashion with Christy McWilson contributing two songs,
Sarah Brown one and an Amy Farris/Dave Alvin co-write. The tunes were built around Dave’s acoustic guitar work, with the
ladies surrounding Alvin with an instrumental blanket that made it clear womanly intuition isn’t just an emotional asset but a
musical one as well.
As evident by the stories behind Alvin’s current projects, the artist is forging ahead in new directions all the while paying homage to the musical paths that got him here. Even if you’ve never heard of The Blasters, The Knitters, or X – the man is definitely worth checking out in a live setting such as the Avalon Theatre…especially when he’s accompanied by some Guilty Women;)
Good seats are still available. Contact the Avalon Box Office at 410.822.7299 or visit avalontheatre.com.
Dave Alvin & A Couple Of Guilty Women
Friday, February 19 @ 8 p.m.
Avalon Theatre, Easton, MD
Box Office: 410.822.7299