One of Americana’s best songwriters meets one of Americana’s best singers.
“Who’s that?” jokes 63-year-old Downey, Calif.-born Dave Alvin. “George Gershwin and Richard Rogers?”
No, it’s you, roadhouse poet/rocker plus Panhandle country existentialist Jimmie Dale Gilmore, 73. That ragged-but-right collaborative notched No. 41 on the Billboard country charts with June’s Downey to Lubbock. Saturday finds the two sampling it live at SoCo’s venerable roots-rock institution.
The Blaster/Knitter/X stalwart shrugs that his teaming with the Flatlander “happened like everything else in my career, organically.” Initially a teaming made in booker heaven, Alvin claims that the veracity of the idea hit him in the middle of the first song of their first set together.
“I knew we had a few things in common, because we’ve known each other 30-some-odd years,” affirms the West Coaster. “But doing those acoustic tours, we learned a thing or two. I knew Jimmie was a great blues singer, but it wasn’t really apparent on his records.
“Partially it was maybe his shyness about singing in that genre, and also I think the style he’d created for himself, there were elements of that. He just wouldn’t hit you over the head with it.”
Then Gilmore pulled out a Blind Lemon Jefferson tune or two and floored Alvin with his facility for replicating ancient falsettos and howls. The alchemy plays out notably on Downey to Lubbock’s title track. Alvin and his band weave a chugging electric blues behind Gilmore’s High Plains tenor.
“I don’t think Jimmie’s ever been in a flat-out rock & roll band,” muses Alvin. “Since we started touring with the band back in June, it’s been great to see him grooving on it, like, ‘Wow! This is loud!’”
Sat., Dec. 1, 8pm