I’ve got a new "Think Again" column called "A Hard Week On the Planet," which tries to get at what we still know to be true about global warming, despite all the noise and scandal that’s been associated with some of the science involved, here.
Dave Alvin live by Eric
I caught an acoustic show by Dave Alvin at City Winery this week. It was an enormous pleasure in every respect. Dave Alvin ranks about as high as anyone these days on the great-but-unfamous scale. His recent work with the Guilty Women, and his production of the tribute album to his late close friend and bandmember Chris Gaffney were two of favorite albums not just of last year, and but of the past few years. This show, the opening one of the tour, was a rather shaggy dog affair, with Alvin repeatedly promising to have things down by the time they reach Birmingham in two weeks. This actually made it more of a pleasure, as it contributed to the coziness–the show took place on the day of yet another global-warming-disproving snowstorm–and the musicianship of Dave himself and the amazing Cindy Cashdollar (Can that really be her name?) on what I think was peddle steel, and Christy McWilson singing duets, backups and main vocals, well, trust me. Alvin writes songs, like those of say, Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams, that feel as if they’ve been around for centuries (and certainly as if they should be). He didn’t play his masterpiece, "Border Radio" nor his un-rock ‘n roll song "American Music," and the only Blasters song I recognized was the encore, "Marie, Marie." But the rest of it, a mixture of Alvin originals and the kind of songs that feel like standards once they’ve been revived by musicians with the right balance of fun and reverance (and of course, eclecticism), well, people, when it works, even sloppily, it’s why I/we spend so much time on music in this place, and what makes life worth living in hard times.
I had not made it to City Winery before because I’m old and live uptown, but what a terrific place! Great sound, excellent food (from famous local places) a wine list that goes into the stratosphere but doesn’t have to, and a warm, unpretentious place to hear music. All with a decent cover. I shouldn’t say this, but all of a sudden I miss The equally warm and well-booked (but overcrowded, and with terrible food) Bottom Line a whole lot less. If you’re in the city, take a look at the calendar here, and if you live in DC, you can catch Dave tonight at The Birchmere, where the vibe will be just as warm, but the food well, sorry, that’s what you get for living there instead of here. Here’s the rest of Dave’s tour. Also, check out the work of Mr. Gaffney, who belongs right alongside Dave on that list. His masterpiece, in my opinion, is the second Hacienda Brothers Album, "What’s Wrong With Right?" but as Robert Zimmerman would say, "It’s all good."
What follows are by Sal:
Johnny Cash – American VI: Ain’t No Grave
Yet another posthumous collection of Rick Rubin produced, Johnny Cash outtakes can be found on American VI: Ain’t No Grave." Who needs it, right? We all do! As a matter of fact, this last (?) volume could be the best yet. At just barely over 30 minutes long, the sadness and exhaustion in Cash’s voice is so moving, it may have been difficult to listen to much more. Covering Sheryl Crow’s "Redemption Day" is no more ridiculous and no less genius than covering Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails, and we have the brilliant Rick Rubin to thank for that. But it’s Kris Kristofferson’s "For The Good Times" where Johnny Cash will leave you limp. This CD is a must.