It was nice to see a good-sized and enthusiastic crowd for Los Angeles roots-rockers the Blasters and simpatico locals Cowboys and Indian at Low Spirits this past Sunday. A man in front of me appeared deeply hurt when the fellow at the table adjacent called him “sir” but, beyond that, a rocking evening was clearly had by all.

I’ve been listening to the Blasters for a long time and, while watching them, it was impossible not to have memories flashing through my head with each tune. Different faces. “One red rose on a new black dress.” Different cities. “I’ve been fooling myself too long.” Different decades. “I sit in my car while she sings so sad.”

Singer Phil Alvin is moving into his 60’s and had to have an emergency tracheotomy awhile back. It makes me think about how many of the people that I’ve followed nearly all my life will no longer be around in another decade or so. I won’t name names lest any prognostication turn out to be true. But here’s to hoping Phil has many more years of trodding the boards left in him. We should all be so lucky to sound that good with a “shot voice.”

While stripped down, the current Blasters now feature largely the same line-up as when they formed in 1979. Phil’s brother, guitarist Dave, is not touring with the band, but both he and Phil, as well as others (including John Doe, singer/bassist of another band of many memories, X) are coming through when the Roots on the Rails train stops in Albuquerque on April 12. I don’t know if they’ll be playing a show in town that night, but, if they are, I’ll certainly be there. I don’t ever wait until “next time” these days.

Hey, I ain’t the guy standing in front of you taking photos with my phone. The shot on the right is from a different city, different decade. Elvis stood there.

John Mulhouse is an Albuquerque-based frequenter of gravel roads, ghost towns, and empty buildings. His blog, City of Dust, features photos and hidden history from all corners of New Mexico and beyond. See a NM-ghost-town-photo-a-day on Facebook.

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Tags: Albuquerque, Blasters, Cowboys and Indian, Low Spirits, Phil Alvin

Comment by Adelita on January 21, 2014 at 11:34am

Wish I could have gone Sunday night, I love the Blasters!  Saw them years ago, in the 80s, at Graham Central Station of all places!  I saw Phil and The Blasters at a Zoo Concert a couple of years ago. Phil had the same energy at that concert as he did in the 80s.  I'm a huge Dave Alvin fan and catch him anytime he comes into town.  You might be interested in this little concert on April 12 for Routes on the Rails at the Old ...!  I've already gotten my tickets!  See you there!

Comment by Johnny_Mango on January 21, 2014 at 3:51pm

I must have been under the table when all this was going on.  Nice piece!

Comment by shotsie on January 21, 2014 at 5:31pm

I hope the Blasters start their set here with "Long White Cadillac", seeing as they're playing at the Historic Old San Ysidro Church.  It would only be appropriate.... 

The Blasters used to visit Tucson once or twice a year - coincidentally, either on my birthday, my wife's or our anniversary (well, within a week or so) and we'd always get tickets.  They played many fund raisers for the local community station, KXCI (at the El Casino Ballroom).  Always a great show.  I'm pretty sure we have virtually every album they made, including Phil Alvin's wonderful "County Fair".  Maybe he played the title cut at the show?

Comment by John Mulhouse on January 21, 2014 at 9:29pm

I was wondering if there was really going to be a show in ABQ that night. The Old San Ysidro Church is fantastic. I've never seen Dave and Phil together, so this should be very cool. Thanks for the tip! See you there, indeed!

I was out of town when the Blasters played the Zoo, which was too bad. I don't think they played "County Fair" this time. I should give that record a listen. It's been awhile...

Comment by Mr. Producer on January 22, 2014 at 2:17pm

Saw the original band in the early 80s at a little bar on North Fourth, near Deadman's Curve. I think it's a laser tag place, or a laundromat now. Also got to see Dave Alvin with the inimitable Pleasure Barons in Santa Fe in late 1980s, with the late Country Dick Montana, John Doe and Mojo Nixon. Both awesome shows.

Comment by Mr. Producer on January 22, 2014 at 2:26pm

Actually, early 90s for the Pleasure Barons.

Comment by Adelita on January 22, 2014 at 2:42pm

Mr. Producer - that bar was Popcorn's and I was there too!  Saw Los Lobos there as well!

Comment by John Mulhouse on January 22, 2014 at 2:55pm

I would've loved to have seen the Pleasure Barons. That's cool! I can only counter by saying that I've seen the Knitters a few times. Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women a few years back at Eaves' Movie Ranch was pretty tremendous, too.

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