Well, I was surprised when the six woman band accompanying Dave Alvin came out on the stage. What a hot night it was. Dave Alvin is one of the great guitarists of the world. His last appearance at Stephen Talkhouse had him on the electric guitar for the whole show with the Guilty Men. He was more sober, and less acoustic. This time his cast led him in a different direction. There were four and five part harmonies in songs like ‘Downey Girl’ and fiddle solos by Laurie Lewis and Amy Farris; hot lap steel guitar solos by the beautiful Cindy Cashdollar; super-steady drumming by Lisa Pankratz (who looked like Diego Rivera’s wife (twice married – to each other) Frida Kahlo with that flower in her hair off to the left side), and Sarah Brown in the middle of it all holding it together on the bass. Oh, and then there is Dave’s childhood sweatheart Christy McWilson on the lead vocals of songs like ‘Weight of the World’ and ‘Potter’s Field’ – the latter having mucho four and five part harmonies as the ladies sang the chorus ‘Bury Me in Potter’s Field’. A bit morbid, but you gotta go anyway and sometimes we do think about it and Christy wrote this song and it’s on the new CD. Apparently this group was assembled in only 2008 for a San Francisco bluegrass festival, and now they are on the road tearing it up.
For the entire show proper, Dave played acoustic guitar, and the band was showcased to great pleasure. Then for the demanded encore(s) Dave strapped on his electric instrument and wowed us all out in Amagansett, especially with the last tune that ‘tells us everything that we have to know about life…a tune written by….?Doris Day?’ Yeah. Don’t know if my mother would have adequately appreciated undoubtedly the hottest version of ‘Que Sera Sera’ ever performed. Maybe 8 or 9 minutes with everybody cookin’ but especially Mr. Alvin blasting thru it, flying and penetrating the tune’s essence and rocking beyond anything else done last night. That peaked off the night.
P.S. I picked up a Laurie Lewis CD called ‘Earth and Sky’ that is stupendous. Mostly bluegrass. Just about every song is terrific. She hails out of Berkeley, California. Downey is where Dave is from. He and his brother formed the Blasters out of Downey. Which is just down dee road from Whittier, where Christy McWilson hails from (also shamed ex-President Richard Nixon). These are towns in the San Bernadino valley west of Los Angeles. Where all the smog collects when the ocean breezes blow it from the freeways and city, toward the trapping mountains….