Music News & Reviews

After several collaborative projects, Dave Alvin plays by himself

Dave Alvin

8 p.m. May 15 at Southgate House, 24 E. Third St., Newport. $20. (859) 431-2201.

Time was, during the heyday of Lynagh's Music Club, Dave Alvin became a semi-regular around Lexington.

From 1996 until the venue closed in 2002, it seemed the West Coast Americana rocker, Blasters co-founder and onetime X man (as in the pioneering Los Angeles punk band, not the comic hero entourage) was playing in town once or twice a year. Behind him was always a rock-solid, roots-savvy band, the Guilty Men.

Since then, though, there have been only back-to-back Dame and WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour appearances in 2004. That makes a rare regional outing by Alvin at Southgate House in Newport my road-trip pick of the weekend.

The performance comes to us on the heels of several new Alvin recording projects. Among them:

Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women, a just-released set of new tunes, cover songs and reworked favorites with a band of veteran female artists, including famed steel/lap steel guitarist Cindy Cashdollar, violinists Laurie Lewis and Amy Farris, veteran blues bassist Sarah Brown, singer/songwriter Christy McWilson and drummer Lisa Pankratz. Among the highlights is a lively Cajun remake of the signature Blasters tune Marie Marie.

A Man of Somebody's Dreams: A Tribute to the Songs of Chris Gaffney, an 18-song sampler featuring Joe Ely, Los Lobos, Alejandro Escovedo and John Doe, among others, interpreting music by Alvin's lifelong friend and bandmate, who died last year of cancer. Alvin is credited as having "curated" the album; he also contributed a cover of Gaffney's Artesia that features a spoken remembrance of a shared Southern California childhood full of orange groves, Santa Ana winds and the omnipresent summer fragrance of cow manure.

Keep Your Soul, a different tribute set that honors the late, great psychedelic Tex-Mex song stylist Doug Sahm. Alvin offers a pedal steel guitar and accordion- fortified version of Sahm's 1969 international hit Dynamite Woman.

But despite all the high-profile company that Alvin keeps on these recordings, and as noted as he has been for performing in full-band settings, Friday's concert at Southgate House will be a solo acoustic show. It also will be Alvin's first unaccompanied outing in the region since an opening set for Richard Thompson at Bogart's a decade ago.

Opening for Alvin will be San Francisco songsmith Brigitte DeMeyer, whose new album, Red River Flower, offers a roots- music matrix that often sounds like a sunnier version of Ollabelle.

The 'Naked' truth

Ireland-born vocalist Maura O'Connell has been another favorite of local audiences since her late-1980s concerts staged here by the defunct Woodland Artists. On Monday, the longtime transplanted Nashvillian returns to Lexington for a taping of WoodSongs at The Kentucky Theatre, 214 East Main Street.

The performance comes with a twist, though. To preview songs from her upcoming album Naked With Friends, O'Connell will perform a cappella. Veteran activist and folk singer Si Kahn will be the show's other guest. O'Connell discusses getting Naked in Sunday's Arts and Life. (7 p.m. $10. (859) 252-8888.

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