The Real Good Friday
Alvin Crow & the Pleasant Valley Boys reunite, minus the Nyquil.
By Margaret Moser,
2:52PM, Wed. Mar. 19, 2008
Listen, my children, and you shall hear of those glorious daze of yore when Alvin Crow & the Pleasant Valley Boys were kings of the scene in the 1970s. Any night Alvin laid his horsehair bow to catgut strings was a good night but there was something about his brand of country that skirted the progressive tag while still being as subversive as it could. Crow fused his childhood classical training to the raw country & western music of his youth and developed a distinctive style of fiddling that fit perfectly with the rising cosmic cowboy sound dominating Austin in the Nixon era.
It wasn’t just his songs of marijuana-laden semis (“Texas Kid’s Retirement Run”) and bewitching heartbreakers (“Dynamite Diana”) amid over-the-counter cures for speed jags (“Nyquil Blues”). And it wasn’t just his spot-on renditions of classics like “Orange Blossom Special,” “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” and “Maiden’s Prayer.” Alvin Crow’s music has an edge honed by his nasal hillbilly twang, gorgeous fiddling, and a dogged determination to keep the “o” in country.
Over the years, the Pleasant Valley Boys hat sat on the head of many a fine musician, and not all of them peed with the seat up. Among the veteran Pleasant Valley Boys announced for the Broken Spoke reunion this Friday are Gary “Smoothie” Roller, Herb “Writing ‘Nyquil Blues’ Made Me Hundreds of Dollars” Steiner, the estimable Bobby Earl Smith, Alvin's brother Rick, Ed “Marcel” Vizard, and the steely Scott Walls. Crow’s longtime bandmates – Telecaster master John X Reed and mighty drummer John Chandler, who still plays Thor to Crow’s Odin – also take the stage. Expect a few foot-stomping tributes to PVBs in the sky, Lawd, in the sky, including T.J. McFarland, D.K. Little, Dale Dennis, and "Nyquil" Roger Crabtree.
Friday is Good Friday, a totally appropriate day for the reunion of Alvin Crow & the Pleasant Valley Boys at the Broken Spoke. And if that’s not enough Crow, the PVB gang is headed to San Marcos the next night to hoist longnecks and fiddle around at Cheatham Street Warehouse.
Here’s a cool video of Chris Isaak’s drummer Kenney Dale Johnson singing “Nyquil Blues” during one of Isaak’s shows (Johnson was a member of Austin’s Extreme Heat during the PVB days). You can sing along too – just grab a bottle and read the ingredients.
Dear Andrew Loog Oldham,
That was my cell phone with the “Satisfaction” ringtone that went off during your introduction at the Rock Memoirs panel at SXSW. It was completely unplanned, I swear.