Dave Alvin - Ashgrove
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Dave Alvin
Yeproc Records (www.yeproc.com)

Dave Alvin lives for his work. Asked about the current US political situation, he answers in two words: "It's ugly." But he adds quickly, "What ever happens November 2, I've gotta play a gig November 3. Music gets me through." The songwriter and founder of The Blasters, now fronting The Guilty Men, has been on the road in support of his latest cd, Ashgrove, since early June and that road now has taken him into the Southwest in late September, with gigs at least every other night.

"I'm my own strawboss," laughs Alvin, "Because it's the only way to sell records. We have to get out there and play. But it's a curse and a blessing. I really hate the road now--the motels, the bad food--but I love playing."

It's like Dave Alvin, at age 49 one of America's most revered songwriters, to describe himself as a working salesman. People's jobs are very important to Alvin, and he often writes about them in his story songs--the working border agent in his classic "California Snow," the unemployed in "Jubilee Train," and the frustrated working stiff in "Out of Control" on Ashgrove. Dave Alvin is proud to be working, and he truly enjoys his job. You can hear that in his tone of voice and you can be sure of it when you see him on stage. In performance, Dave Alvin gives one thousand percent.

"Survival songs" is what Alvin calls folk music: What poor people use to survive, to get through the days. "As you age, as family members die, as life gets weird," he says, "its the music that keeps you going, that gets you to a peaceful place inside. Everybody needs that place." His songs on Ashgrove--all Dave Alvin originals--he calls "my personal folk songs."

Describing the long-gone California music club which gives the album its title, Alvin qualifies the reference by saying, "Ashgrove is not really about the club. It's more about a place you go inside and feel uncorrupted. When you hassle in traffic, take shit from the boss, go home and fight with your family--all that stuff that is not your good self. Then you need to find the place where you can be your better self. Ashgrove is that place, wherever it is for you."

Dave Alvin shares a special place on Ashgrove. It's a great album, and a fine place to visit. - Bill Nevins

Available from cdroots.com.com

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