By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Making their unique mix of rockabilly, country, early rock and roll, blues and R&B for nearly four decades, SoCal roots-rock greats the Blasters bring their indelible sound to San Francisco when the band headlines Slim’s in San Francisco Saturday night.
Brothers Phil and Dave Alvin grew up in Downey, California, and developed and early interest in rockabilly, country and other guitar-focused roots music. The pair saw performances by such six-string heroes as Chet Atkins and Leo Kottke and by their teens were regularly attending shows by legendary blues vocalist Big Joe Turner from gig to gig in Los Angeles.
The new band would record it’s debut independent album American Music over two days in a living room studio, bashing out a mix of originals and songs by the likes of Billy Haley and Jimmie Rogers that wiped away the boundaries between roots-music styles. Along with country/rockabilly-influenced punk group X and East LA contemporaries Los Lobos, the Blasters brought a sense of history to the sonic stew of the Los Angeles scene. The band’s reputation as a firebrand live act led to tour dates with acts as varied as psychobilly icons the Cramps, country heroes Asleep at the Wheel and ’70s rock favorites Queen.
The band would sign to Slash/Warner Bros. for their acclaimed eponymous sophomore album in 1981, a record that established the Blasters as one of the top rising rock bands in the U.S. Two more hit records — Non Fiction in 1983 and Hard Line two years later — would follow before Dave Alvin departed for his own successful solo career. In his absence, a string of celebrated guitarists would fill his shoes, including X guitar player Billy Zoom, James Intveld and future Beck guitarist Smokey Hormel.
While Phil Alvin would also delve into solo territory with a pair of albums, the Blasters would remain his main creative outlet into the ’90s and beyond. The brothers have reunited periodically both in the band they co-founded and for a pair of more recent blues-soaked albums, but the Blasters have been touring and recording with the current line-up featuring guitarist Keith Wyatt for the last two decades with 2012’s Fun on a Saturday Night being the group’s most recent effort.
For this show at Slim’s in San Francisco’s SOMA Saturday, the Blasters will be joined by veteran western swing/country boogie favorites Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys and Austin, TX-based songwriter Jesse Dayton. A West Coast institution since first coming together in Anaheim in 1988, frontman Robert “Big Sandy” Williams and his hard-swinging group have logged hundreds of thousands of miles and played thousands of shows during a 30+ year career.
Songwriter and guitarist Jesse Dayton has been playing professionally since his teens, backing zydeco and honky-tonk bands and sneaking into nightclubs while underage to play with Texas blues legends. He would go on to record and perform with such wide-ranging luminaries as Doug Sahm, Flaco Jimenez, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, the Supersuckers and X singer John Doe while recording a dozen albums of his own. His latest collection Mixtape Vol. 1 finds the musician covering songs made famous by everyone from the Clash, AC/DC and ZZ Top to Jackson Brown, Gordon Lightfoot and Bruce Springsteen.
Saturday, Aug. 17, 8 p.m. $25