End the Guilt: Go See Dave Alvin & the Women

davealvin_todd-wolfsonWhat: Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women perform in a benefit concert for Redding School District’s music program and public television station KIXE.

When: Wednesday (Sept. 29), 7:30 p.m.

Throughout the history of humankind, one of our species’ peculiar strengths is the innate need to pass our music, stories and traditions from one generation to the next. Since our ancestors’ first whacking of an animal skin with a stick while dancing around a campfire, music has been one of the most enduring of the universal languages.

Music has evolved from inspiring the ancient hunting party with invigorating primal cadence to the gilded opera house, where the subtle, nuanced vibrato of a violin string still touches the heart and feeds the soul. Today, no form of artistic expression is more prevalent or widely consumed in our modern world than music. It is important to everyone and is a cornerstone of our shared “human being-ness.”

Too bad our schools are being forced to abandon their efforts to teach the art of music to the next generation. Budget cuts and other mundane and short-sighted politics du jour have left already cash-strapped programs without the means to carry on the long tradition of teaching our children to make a joyful noise.

It’s time for the artists, parents and an economically battered citizenry to step up and put some of what’s left of our money where our humanity is and do something to help. Enter Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women, and local heroes James Fossen and Lisa Redden, who are doing just that.

James and Lisa (yes, you guys are heroes) did the community a huge favor last year by bringing the music of Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women to the Cascade Theatre stage. The group’s killer set absolutely floored those in attendance and left the band with a warm spot in their hearts for our little burg on the river. It was a no-brainer to ask the group to return someday, but it was an inspiration on the part of James and Lisa to get the best roots-blues-folk rock and roll band (maybe best band, period) to ever grace the Cascade stage to return for a show benefiting the Redding School District’s music program and local PBS station KIXE.

“Promoter-By-Accident” James Fossen had this to say in a recent email:

“So much has changed for Lisa and I since the first show that we decided it might be nice to recreate the moment. We lost our business yet still wanted to be involved and do something positive with the community. This is our thing and we love doing it.”

“This time around we wanted to involve a few charities that we felt contributed an awful lot to the kids in our area. Who better than KIXE and the Redding School District music program? We are thrilled to be helping them and hope we can give them both some much-needed financial help and give some awareness to what they do and how this economy has impacted them. Both have suffered greatly with the economy and the children who benefit from their efforts are the ones who will feel it the most without our help. Judy Salter was particularly important in helping us decide to help support the Redding School District music program. KIXE was a no-brainer. We are thrilled to have an orchestra from Redding School District filling the Cascade with their sound as part of the performance.”

The importance of passing on a musical legacy is not lost on Alvin, who since his days as a guitarist/singer with groups like X, The Blasters and The Knitters, as well as his own prolific solo career, is himself quick to acknowledge his musical debt to those who came before him.

As budding teenage musicians growing up in Los Angeles, Dave and his brother Phil would hang out at clubs like the infamous Ash Grove. There, they would soak up the sounds of the blues, country and jazz greats who were essential to the development of rock and roll. Their devotion to the music and their unwavering earnestness was not lost on the influential musical giant, Big Joe Turner, who befriended the skinny white kids from Downey. Big Joe’s tutelage kept the boys on the Righteous Musical Path and their later success in the burgeoning L.A. Rockabilly (Cowpunk, to some) scene of the early ’80s has helped to keep the flame of American roots music burning. You can still hear Big Joe, Hank and the best of our collective soul in every twang of Alvin’s guitar.

In a gesture so completely right-on for this event, 18-year-old Red Bluff fiddle player Kate Busey will join Dave on stage for the group’s encore.

Listen to her closely. When she plays, you may just hear a note that comes from far away and touches you somewhere near the heart. It’s just the music … and maybe the sound of Big Joe laughing low, glad he met those skinny kids from the suburbs. They didn’t let him down … and they’re passin’ it on. Just like he knew they would.

Additional note:

Today, Yep Roc recording artists Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women tour extensively and are widely regarded as one of the most exciting and skillful bands to tread upon a stage. Whether sawdust-floored club or plush theater, Dave and the Women leave audiences panting for more and are the closest thing to a guaranteed good time this side of a jungle monkey cantina.

Dave Alvin states on his website, “There are two types of folk music: quiet folk music and loud folk music. I play both.”

Yes, he does. And he does them pretty darn good. Don’t miss this show if you can in any way help it.

phil_laughingPhil Fountain is a cartoonist, writer and occasional bed-wetter based in the far reaches of Northern Californey.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern

Phil Fountain

Phil Fountain is a North State artist and cartoonist.

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