David Albert "Dave" Alvin (born November 11, 1955) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, music producer and poet. He is a former and founding member of the roots rock band the Blasters. Alvin has recorded and performed as a solo artist since the late 1980s, and has been involved in various side projects and collaborations as well. He has had brief stints as a member of the bands X and the Knitters.
Alvin grew up in Downey, California. As teenagers, he and his older brother Phil Alvin attended blues, rockabilly, and country venues and listened to the music of T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner, and Lee Allen, among others. Alvin attended Long Beach State University.
In 1979, Alvin and his brother Phil formed the roots rock band the Blasters with fellow Downey residents Bill Bateman and John Bazz. Alvin served as the group's lead guitarist and chief songwriter. Despite a growing fan base in the United States and Europe, Alvin left the band in 1986 and became the lead guitarist of the Los Angeles-based alternative rock band, X. He left X in 1987 to work on a solo project after the group recorded their album See How We Are. Alvin became a member of country-folk band the Knitters and appeared on their 1985 album Poor Little Critter on the Road and their 2005 follow-up, The Modern Sounds of The Knitters.
In the early 1980s Alvin, along with fellow Blasters members Bill Bateman and Steve Berlin, performed on several albums by the Los Angeles punk band the Flesh Eaters. Alvin also played with the Gun Club and appeared on two songs from their 1984 album, The Las Vegas Story.
Alvin's first solo album, entitled Romeo's Escape (entitled Every Night About This Time in England) and released in 1987, was well received by critics but didn't fare well in the marketplace. As a result of the album's low sales figures, Alvin lost his recording contract with Columbia records. Alvin then toured with Mojo Nixon and Country Dick Montana under the name Pleasure Barons and released a live album of their 1993 tour.
In 1989, Dwight Yoakam recorded Alvin's song "Long White Cadillac". Alvin released his second solo album Blue Blvd Hightone Records in 1991. It received positive reviews and moderate sales. After releasing Museum of Heart in 1993, he recorded an album of acoustic music in 1994 called King of California. In 2000, Alvin recorded a collection of traditional folk and blues classics called, Public Domain: Songs From the Wild Land, which earned him a Grammy award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
In 2011, Alvin released the album Eleven Eleven on Yep Roc Records. The album marked his return to rock roots.Rolling Stone magazine, in a review of the album, called Alvin "an under recognized guitar hero".
Back with his brother:
In 2014, Dave and Phil Alvin released the album Common Ground, a selection of Big Bill Broonzy covers, as a duo. It was the first studio collaboration by the Alvin brothers since the mid 1980s. In 2015 they released Lost Time, a collection of covers including four songs by Big Joe Turner.
Producer and collaborator:
Alvin has produced music for Chris Gaffney, Tom Russell, the Derailers, and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, and collaborated with rockabilly musician Sonny Burgess. He has worked as a studio session musician for Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Little Milton, Katy Moffatt, and Syd Straw.
Alvin appeared in the movies Border Radio and Floundering and on the FX television series Justified in 2011 as well as in Streets of Fire with The Blasters in 1984.
Alvin has published two books of poetry: Any Rough Times Are Now Behind You and Nana, Big Joe & the Fourth of July. His poetry has appeared in Caffeine, the A.K.A. Review, Rattler, Asymptote and Enclitic and in the anthologies: Nude Erections, Hit And Run Poets and Poetry Loves Poetry--An Anthology of Los Angeles Poets.
The Blasters discography:
(recordings with Dave Alvin as member)
American Music (1980),
The Blasters (1981),
Over There (1982),
Non Fiction (1983),
Hard Line (1985),
The Blasters Collection (1990),
Testament: The Complete Slash Recordings (2002),
The Blasters Live - Going Home (2004),
The Blasters videography:
Streets of Fire (1984),
The Blasters Live-Going Home (2004),
See How We Are (1986),
The Knitters discography:
Poor Little Critter on the Road (1985),
The Modern Sounds of the Knitters (2005),
Dave Alvin discography:
Museum of Heart
King of California
Out in California
Outtakes in California
The Great American Music Galaxy
West of the West
Live from Austin, TX: Austin City Limits
Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women
Common Ground: Dave & Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy (with Phil Alvin)
Eklektikos Live (2005) - "Blackjack David",
Highway 61 Revisited Revisited, UNCUT (2005) - "Highway 61 Revisited",
The Lone Ranger: Wanted (2013) - "Lonesome Whistle",
Music used in popular culture:
The song "Dark Eyes", from the album Public Domain, can be heard playing over the radio during the third season of the television series Six Feet Under in the episode, "You Never Know".
The song "Dark Night", as recorded by the Blasters plays over the opening sequence of the movie From Dusk till Dawn.
The song "So Long Baby Goodbye", as recorded by the Blasters, plays over a scene in the film Bull Durham.
He makes an appearance and sings "Harlan County Line" in "I of the Storm" Episode 3 of Season 2 of Justified.
Nana, Big Joe & the Fourth of July (Iliteratim 1986) ASIN B000V96DW4,
Any Rough Times Are Now Behind You (Incommunicado Press, 1996) ISBN 9781884615092