Thursday, April 18, 2019
– Dave Alvin's "King of California" will be reissued this summer in an expanded version by Craft Recordings.
Available at streaming services and on CD, and for the first time on vinyl on
June 28, the album was originally released in 1994 on Hightone Records. The remastered, expanded edition includes a previously unreleased instrumental studio track, "Riverbed Rag," along with bonus material.
Recorded in Los Angeles the day after the 1994 Northridge earthquake and produced by Greg Leisz, "King of California" had its genesis in the album's title track, a folk ballad, written for his mother, in which an aspiring suitor heads west to make his fortune in the wild, still-young Golden State. "'King of California' is when I decided 'this is when I let the song tell me what it sounds like,'" says Alvin. "Ever since then, that's been my rule. It sounds ridiculous, but it was something I had to learn."
Featuring acoustic interpretations of some of finest songs in his catalog, along with new, folk-inflected compositions, and covers, Alvin said, "It was ironic that for a guy who was known as a loud guitar player and questionable singer, his best seller was an acoustic album."
Included are songs written and originally recorded during the '80s: "Barn Burning" from "American Music" (1980) the debut album from The Blasters, "Bus Station" and "Leaving" from the Blasters' "Non Fiction" (1983), "Little Honey," written with X's John Doe and featured on the Blasters' "Hard Line" (1985), and "Fourth of July," which appeared on both X's "See How We Are" (1997) and on Alvin's solo album "Romeo's Escape" (1987). "Every Night About This Time" also appeared on the latter album.
The disc features covers, including Tom Russell's' "Blue Wing," Dallas singer-pianist Whistlin' Alex Moore's "West Texas Blues" (retitled "East Texas Blues"), Memphis Slim's classic "Mother Earth," and "What Am I Worth," a George Jones song, featured here as a duet with Syd Straw. The album also includes co-writes with Rosie Flores ("Goodbye Again").
The expanded edition includes a previously unreleased track from the recording sessions, "Riverbed Rag," an instrumental designed for a guitar-Dobro duel by Alvin and Leisz, and inspired by the usually dry San Gabriel River that both musicians grew up exploring. Two additional covers, Merle Haggard's "Kern River," originally recorded for the 1994 Haggard tribute album "Tulare Dust" (co-produced by Alvin and Tom Russell), and Katy Moffatt's "The Cuckoo," from her 1999 Alvin-produced album "Loose Diamond," round out the bonus tracks.
"I'm real proud of "King of California" 25 years later," Alvin said. "The whole process was a revelation, to record with everybody in the studio sitting roughly in a circle. Sitting there on the edge of my chair with an acoustic guitar knowing that if I blow this chord, we have to start over. And I could use my voice; when I was recording electric my voice couldn't lead the band. In this situation I could. That allowed a certain openness and freedom I hadn't experienced before. And for Greg, this was his baby, his chance to produce me and get my voice right. His calmness in all of this led to the vibe of the record."
Tour dates are:
April 19 - Iron Horse - Northampton, MA*
April 20 - Bull Run - Shirley, MA*
June 1 - Iowa City Arts Festival - Iowa City, IA*
June 2 - Sunday Roadhouse - Omaha, NE*
June 3 - Zoo Bar - Lincoln, NE*
June 6 - Shank Hall - Milwaukee, WI*
June 8 - Chicago Blues Festival - Chicago, IL*
June 12 - Freight & Salvage - Berkeley, CA^
June 14 - McCabe's - Santa Monica, CA^
June 15 - AMSD - San Diego, CA
June 16 - McCabe's - Santa Monica, CA^
July 9 - Cedar Cultural Center - Minneapolis, MN
July 11 - City Winery - Chicago, IL
July 12 - Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH
July 13 - The Ark - Ann Arbor, MI
July 14 - Natalie's - Columbus, OH
July 16 - Club Café - Pittsburgh, PA
July 18 - Daryl's House Club - Pawling, NY
July 19 - City Winery - Boston, MA^
July 20 - World Café Live - Philadelphia, PA^
July 21 - City Winery - New York, NY^
July 23 - Birchmere - Alexandra, VA^
July 31 - Tractor Tavern - Seattle, WA
Aug. 1 - Old Church Concert Hall - Portland, OR
* with Jimmie Dale Gilmore
^ with Greg Leisz
The track listing for the CD is:
1 .King of California
2 .Barn Burning
3. Fourth of
4. Goodbye Again (duet with Rose Flores)
1. East Texas Blues
2.Every Night About This Time
3. Bus Station
4 Mother Earth
5. Blue Wing
1. Little Honey
2. (I Won't Be) Leaving
3. What I Am Worth (duet with Syd Straw)
4. Border Radio
SIDE D - Bonus Tracks
1. Riverbed Rag*
2. The Cuckoo (duet with Katy Moffat)
3. Kern River
* previously unreleased
Craft Recordings puts out artists such as Joan Baez, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Nine Inch Nails, Thelonious Monk, Otis Redding, R.E.M. and Traveling Wilburys.