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Legends Issue Second Impressive Album

Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore in concert with The Guilty Ones

Texan Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Californian Dave Alvin are music stalwarts in their respective States, with each having written a classic song which, in all likelihood, could claim to be that State's anthem in Americana music. So when they deliver another joint album, what better than to call it TexiCali.


To be fair, the title of the pair’s only other album, the acclaimed 2018 release Downey to Lubbock, was also geo-linked.


The affable Gilmore is from the West Texas city of Lubbock, the home of some of the best artists in roots music and where Buddy Holly lies buried. Gilmore's composition “Dallas” – Did you ever see Dallas from a DC9 at night - is a classic and ranked by the Dallas Observer as number one in the list of “The 20 best Songs Ever Written About Dallas.”


Alvin hails from Downey, on the outskirts of LA, and has long included Californian songs among his compositions. His most popular, “King of California,” tells the tale of a miner coming to a sad end while searching for fortunes in the Californian goldfields.


And the new album is something of a road trip in and around their home States, even more so than their first. For TexiCali has six original songs, while Downey to Lubbock had just two.


Gilmore kicks it off with “Borderland.” It is an original, but an oldie from his 1996 release Braver Newer World. This time there is less reverb in the vocals and it is somewhat rock-infused by Alvin’s regular backing outfit, The Guilty Ones, who effortlessly criss-cross the various bluesy/rock/country genres delivered to them on all 11 tracks.


Alvin’s first song “Southwest Chief” is a co-write with Bill Morrisey, and it too has a past. It first appeared on the 2022 compilation album Americana Railroad. Once onboard  in Chicago – Southwest Chief let your whistle blow/Wherever you’re heading I wanna go – Alvin traverses the Americana landscape to Los Angeles. One minute he is into New Mexico with a dusting of snow, then crossing Arizona the land of the Navajo. Alvin’s slick guitar playing, along with that of Chris Miller, also gets aboard.


Alvin burst onto the music scene as lead guitarist and chief songwriter with the ‘80’s blues/rock band The Blasters. And he returns to those days with another original “Blind Owl,” a moving tribute to Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson, lead singer of Canned Heat who died at the infamous age of 27 in 1970. Alvin wrote it with the current line-up of Canned Heat and their joint version was actually included in the iconic band’s latest release Finyl Vinyl earlier this year. It sees Alvin at his song-writing, and singing, best:

Midnight down in Tucson or any town along the highway

Crank up the amps, whisper a prayer, thankful for every damn day

Cause the odds are stacked against us but somehow we still survive

Standing strong, playing proud, cause that’s where the blind owl still flies


Gilmore too returns to his music roots, The Flatlanders  - the trio he formed with lifelong Lubbock friends Butch Hancock and Joe Ely - when he delivers a bluesy rendition of  the Hancock-penned “Roll Around.” It sees The Guilty Ones at their innovative best.


You will have to wait for track six, “Death of the Last Stripper,” before you get a full duet from the pair. Alvin co-wrote it with Jo Harvey Allen and Terry Allen. It too has history, being recorded by Terry Allen in 2020. But this makeover is a stunner; indeed a candidate for Americana song of the year. It is a tragic lament, made even better by the slow recital by Gilmore and Alvin. Their alternate vocals on the saddest stanza are breath-taking:


We found a number on some paper in her purse

That was the number that we called first


But nobody answered every time we tried

We're the only ones in the world who even know she died

They also share full vocals on Brownie McGhee's harmonica-infused "Betty and Dupree" and Josh White's "Down the 285." Given that their voices are so contrasting - Alvin is a crusty, though somewhat-soothing, baritone while Gilmore is a warbling tenor - the harmonies still work.

And the final track "We're Still Here" pushes the meticulous harmonies up a notch, as the pair pay homage to living .. and their longevity. Gilmore is 79 and Alvin 68. The Guilty Ones are at their rockabilly-best as the two provide a somewhat irreverent reflection on a life in music:

Well the music business man with the music business smile

Said the songs I write were old and out of style

But I've been bopping these blues for over forty years

Hell I don't know where he is now

But we're still here

These lyrics are all somewhat profound, given that in between the pair's two albums, Alvin battled serious cancer for nearly two years. When he chose to return to performing in 2022, he did so with Gilmore. As TexiCali again proves, the two are made for each other.

Paul Cutler

Editor Crossroads - Americana Music Appreciation

  • The Americana Music Association announced on June 24 that Dave Alvin will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Americana Honors & Awards ceremony at the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, on September 18.

But no


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