Archive for dave alvin

Eyewitness: Blue Shadows “deadly serious” at the King King

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , , , on May 14, 2017 by J.J.


Some of the best stories about The Red Devils come from the people who watched it all go down.

One such eyewitness is Kevin Shattuck, who has been recounting his favorite shows, and the stories behind them, on his Facebook page. Not only that but he is assembling amazing collages that render his musical memories in iconography.

He recently did a piece on the Blue Shadows — the precursor to the blues Red Devils — from the summer of ’88 at the King King. That is Genesis 1 in The Red Devils’ nearly 30-year story.

Kevin’s recollections are published with permission below, but it is definitely worth checking out his Facebook page for stories about The Blasters, X, the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Gun Club, Panther Burns and on and on …

In the Summer of ’88, a Chinese restaurant on the corner of 6th & La Brea named “King King” decided to stay open late & book rockabilly & blues acts. I was working at the Beverly Center & the club was on my way home, so I started to drop in fairly often. It didn’t take very long before an astonishingly great punk/blues band named the “Blue Shadows” settled into that space on a Monday nite residency. It included ex-”Blasters” Gene Taylor on keyboards & Bill Bateman on drums, “Radio Ranch Straight Shooter” Greg “Smokey” Hormel (or on occasion) Dave Alvin playing lead guitar & the Bartel brothers Dave Lee & Jonny Ray on rhythm guitar & bass. The front man was a young harmonica player named Lester Butler. He was a pretty good singer, but was a flat out beast on the harp & had a true bluesman’s weathered, world weary demeanor.
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Portrait of a Knitter

Posted in jonny ray bartel with tags , , , , , , on June 4, 2015 by J.J.

Jonny Ray Bartel

Tom Harold took this portrait of Jonny Ray Bartel when he performed with The Knitters Dec. 2, 2007, at the Music Mill in Indianapolis.

Some other fan photos from that gig can be seen on Flickr.

Dave Alvin remembers Butler and Red Devils

Posted in bill bateman, lester butler, red devils with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2013 by J.J.

Dave Alvin posted his thoughts to Facebook Dec. 4:

Got to thinking today about the late, talented Lester Butler and the short lived but tough little blues outfit, The Red Devils, so I found a good clip of the guys playing some European festival over a decade ago. Yeah, that’s Blaster Bill Bateman on drums and Knitter Johnny Ray Bartel on bass backing up Lester as he blows the hell out of his harp. In those days they battled their demons while dancing damn close to the edge but for a few shining hours they played some great damn rocking blues. I’m glad some film remains of Lester and the guys before things ended as ugly and sad as anything could.

Alvin, of course, is essential to The Red Devils, basically a spin-off band to The Blasters. Dave Alvin played in the original Blue Shadows trio with Bill Bateman and Jonny Ray Bartel, and teams still with Bartel in The Knitters.

As of this writing, the post has 422 likes, 64 comments and 86 shares.

And he posted this video, from PinkPop, more than 20 years ago:

Blue Shadows gigs 1989-90

Posted in red devils with tags , , , , on October 2, 2011 by J.J.

We are catching up with several Blue Shadows dates for the timeline section. We start with several great clippings from the Eddie Clark collection, snapshots of the late-’80s/early-’90s California blues scene. Included are an ad for the first blues hall of fame festival and a postcard for blues night at Spice, both organized by Randy Chortkoff; along with two ads from Southland Blues Magazine.

It’s quite interesting to see, during 1989 and 1990, when the Blue Shadows were promoted as featuring Dave Alvin versus as featuring Lester Butler.

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Fourth of July fireworks: The original Blasters live

Posted in bill bateman, related music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2010 by J.J.

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While many in the crowd were talking about the return of the Fightin’ Alvins, the real on-stage fireworks this Fourth of July weekend came courtesy of the past and present of Blasters guitar players.

The Blasters were one of the featured acts this past weekend at the 30th American Music Festival at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn, Illinois. The current lineup (frontman Phil Alvin, guitarist Keith Wyatt, bassist John Bazz and Bill Bateman on drums) was augmented by founding guitarist and songwriter Dave Alvin, in a rare return to the fold.
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The Blasters’ ‘Trouble Bound’ 2002

Posted in bill bateman, related music with tags , , , , , , on July 7, 2009 by J.J.

The California blues/roots/rockabilly/R&B collective The Blasters should be required listening for any fan of American Music. During the 1980s, the band, along with contemporaries such as X and Los Lobos, bridged punk and roots music with an energy and enthusiasm that thrilled a legion of fans of all types of music.

That Blasters ethic is well-displayed on the 2002 “comeback” album “Trouble Bound,” a live disc featuring the four original Blasters on record for the first time 17 years: Phil Alvin, Dave Alvin, John Bazz and Bill Bateman.

The Red Devils were one of many offshoots from The Blasters, sharing at least half a dozen musicians over the two bands along with 13, the Blue Shadows, the Knitters and others. Devils fans will find much to love on “Trouble Bound,” along with some familiar touchstones: An edgy live sound, an exemplary cover of “I Wish You Would,” the wonderful Gene Taylor on keys, as well as the Blasters’ classic “Blue Shadows,” the song that ostensibly gave the Red Devils their original name.

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