Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore: Two Roots Music Legends To Perform At SOPAC on Thursday
By Gary Wien
originally published: 10/30/2018
“Forty years on the highway, living on dreams and gasoline” - That’s a line from the wonderful title track of the album Downey to Lubbock - the first collaboration from Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. The two artists had been friends for three decades before embarking on a series of acoustic shows in Texas. Those shows were so much fun and well received that they decided to create an album. They’re back on tour and will be performing at South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC)on Thursday. Tickets are $30-$40.
Dave Alvin is best known for his work with The Blasters (a band he co-founded with his brother) and numerous solo albums which were released to critical acclaim. In 2001, one called Public Domain, won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album.
Jimmie Dale Gilmore was a founding member of The Flatlanders along with Joe Ely and Butch Hancock, but found more success as a solo artist including Grammy nominations for three separate albums. In addition to music, he’s also acted in several films including a memorable role in The Big Lebowski.
Together, they’ve merged Alvin’s bluesy sounds with Gilmore’s folk and country roots to create a simply outstanding roots album. The duo are backed by stellar musicians as they cover songs by Woodie Guthrie/Martin Hoffman, Steve Young, John Stewart, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Chris Gaffney, Chester Powers, Brownie and Ruth McGhee, and Lloyd Price. But it is the two original songs by Dave Alvin which floored me. Alvin has always been known in the industry as an excellent songwriter, but hearing his songs alongside these fine songwriters seems to take his tunes to another level.
“I’m a pretty good songwriter,” said Alvin. “When I’m dead and gone, I think a couple of my songs will live on. I’ll put my best song against anybody’s worst! Hey Bob Dylan, give me your worst song and I’ll give you my best… and I’ll show ya!”
The article continues after this ad
Alvin jokes, but those who have heard his work know what a great songwriter he is. Chances are you already know some of his songs even if his name isn’t immediately familiar. If you were a fan of alternative rock in the 80s, you probably will remember a song that I think is rather legendary - “4th of July” by X. It was part of the brilliant See How We Are album for which Alvin replaced Billy Zoom in the studio and on tour.
“We’re a couple of guys that never really had hits,” continued Alvin. “In some ways, that’s a curse; in other ways, it’s a blessing. I think both of us have been able to survive one way or another. Jimmie’s song ‘Dallas” was a hit as well. It’s funny; we’ve been blessed in that of all the sort of trauma that goes into making a living this way… I mean, people I know have gotten pretty bitter at times and that affects them, what they do and they lose the love of the music. Both Jimmie and I are really blessed in that we never did lose that. Not to say this hasn’t been difficult, but the sort of innocent joy of ‘Oh my God, I played the right chord!’ - that hasn’t left.”
The other original tune is “Billy the Kid and Geronimo” - another song that is absolutely perfect for this duo. In this one the two take turns telling a classic western tale. Alvin plays Billy and Gilmore sings the parts of Geronimo. Alvin, who released solo records for about two decades before rejoining his brother on a pair of releases, says he doesn’t need a musical partner but tracks like this hint otherwise.
“It’s funny, it looks like I need a partner, but I don’t really,” said Alvin. “I do know that I like making music and I like learning things. The way I learn a lot of stuff is by playing with other musicians or working with other singers and songwriters. By the time I’m 85, I’ll be pretty good! That’s kind of my goal. ‘Man, when I make 85, I’m really going to be something!’ So working with other people - whether it’s singers or musicians, that’s a kick.
“When I sit down to write a song, I’m not thinking about doing duets usually,” he continued. “I’m just thinking about what makes a song good or bad. In the case of ‘Billy the Kid and Geronimo’ I’ve had it in my brain - my songwriter brain is kind of like an auto parts repair place where there are parts lying around everywhere and there’s no rhyme or reason why something is lying around. The song had been laying around in parts for a little while and then I had the idea… Jimmie has Apache blood and hey I was a kid once, so I’ll be Billy the Kid and make Jimmie Geronimo. Then I just put the parts together into a song and it worked. I remember the moment he sang the first line of his first verse - it was just like ‘this is good!’”
The two artists do not have any additional New Jersey dates currently scheduled. A few tickets remain for the SOPAC show on Thursday and I highly recommend grabbing them while you can. Downey to Lubbock is one of the finest albums I’ve heard this year. Whether you're a fan of folk, blues, rock, or country there are songs that will blow you away.
Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore have put a unique stamp on some obscure roots songs, a few well known tunes, a pair of incredible originals, and may have topped them all with their wonderful cover of the classic sixties anthem, “Get Together.” After the week we’ve just had in America, the song is more needed now than ever. And to have the chance to hear this music in the amazing acoustics of SOPAC will be a real treat.
SOPAC is located at One SOPAC Way in South Orange, New Jersey.
Look for more from our interview with Dave Alvin in the next issue of New Jersey Stage magazine.
Kenny Chesney To Perform At Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- Focusing on smaller venues and markets not directly impacted by his massive stadium tours, Kenny Chesney sought to make his Songs for the Saints 2019 Tour mirror the intimacy of its namesake album. Inspired by the resilience of the people around him, Chesney doubles down on the human connection for his 2019 tour by seeking those members of No Shoes Nation who have spent the past decade and a half making the trip to stadium markets for what is now a summer tradition. On Saturday, May 11, 2019 he brings the tour to Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena in Atlantic City, NJ.State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze (NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.NJSO presents 2019 Winter Festival, 'Music Speaks' (NEWARK, NJ) -- A trio of renowned guest artists with distinct musical voices—pianists Emanuel Ax and Daniil Trifonov and soprano Dawn Upshaw—headline the NJSO’s Winter Festival, “Music Speaks,” in January 2019. The Orchestra’s signature artistic event takes place across three weekends, January 10–27, in six New Jersey venues.RVCC Chorale to Perform Annual Holiday Concert on December 8th (BRANCHBURG, NJ) --The RVCC Chorale will give its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 8 at 8:00pm in the Welpe Theatre at Raritan Valley Community College’s Branchburg campus. The program will feature Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, Das Neugeborne Kindelein, as well as a cappella pieces from by Sergei Rachmaninov, Zoltan Kodaly and Giuseppe Verdi. The program also will include an audience singalong of traditional carols.Classic Stones Live! The Complete Rolling Stones Tribute Show Comes To SOPAC (SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- The Rolling Stones, the greatest Blues band of all time, couldn’t make it to SOPAC on their 2018 tour. Instead, the acclaimed tribute band Classic Stones Live! makes an appearance on the SOPAC stage December 15 at 8:00pm for those who like to hear their Rolling Stones hits live.
"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.Sha Na Na LIVE! at the Newton Theatre The audience is streaming into the Newton Theatre auditorium in Newton, NJ this Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 for a live concert starring Sha Na Na!