Gene Taylor Blues Band featuring Dave Alvin
1019 E. Indian School Road
Phoenix, AZ, 85014
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:15 PM
This event is 21 and over
Watch & Listen
Gene Taylor Blues Band
Gene Taylor is an extraordinary blues piano-player and singer, born in Los Angeles, California, in 1952. At the age of eight, he came under the influence of a family of blues and boogie-woogie players who moved in next door to his house. After starting out with the drums, he switched to the piano and the guitar at age ten. He learned very quickly playing by ear and, at age 11, he began performing in a 'family band' with his best friend Jim Payne and Jim's parents. They worked occasional neighborhood functions, giving Gene his first experience as a 'paid musician'---playing and singing country music.
Having lost both his parents and brother by the age of 15, Gene was firmly committed to the life of a musician. After obtaining his driver's license at age 16---and looking much older, thanks to an already-receding hairline---he started finding local work with such L.A.-based blues legends as Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson, and Pee-Wee Crayton. In his own words, "Well, I was playing good boogie-woogie and pretty fair blues at this point, and going to blues jams with my fake ID (identification). The word got out that I wanted to work! Since I was young and would work cheap, I was hired by these guys sometimes as a 'fill-in' on local gigs for the older piano players who weren't available or wanted too much money!" (laughter) "But I was a quick learner and I had a car---all the better to drive the older guys around!" (more laughter) This experience was invaluable to Gene's musical foundation. And during this period, he met both James Harman and Phil and Dave Alvin---who later formed The Blasters.
After working for James Harman during most of 1974, Gene was asked to join Canned Heat. He was a member of this legendary band from November, 1974 until June, 1976---giving him his first international exposure.
After leaving Canned Heat, Gene worked as a solo performer around Long Beach, California. He had a 2-year 'house-gig' at a notorious Long Beach bar called the Falcon's Nest, owned by a now-deceased gangster. At this lively spot, Gene's audience occasionally included various Los Angeles-area celebrities---most notably, actor Robert Blake and poet Charles Bukowski.
In 1978, Gene immigrated to Toronto, Canada, to play music with his friend Morgan Davis, a well-known Canadian bluesman. He was based in Canada from 1978-1993---though he continued to perform with other artists world-wide. During his years in Canada, Gene found time to play and record with the Downchild Blues Band, Chris and Ken Whitely, and the one-and-only Ronnie Hawkins (founder of The Band). During this period he also was a member of The Amos Garrett, Doug Sahm, Gene Taylor Band---releasing a Juno Award-winning album, "The Return Of The Formerly Brothers" (1987) and another recording, "Live In Japan" (I990).
While working with his good friend James Harman again, in 1981, Gene was asked to join the Blasters---a band comprised of four friends from his teenage years (Phil and Dave Alvin, John Bazz, and Bill Bateman). He played with The Blasters for 4 1/2 years, recording four critically-acclaimed albums for Warner Brothers records and appearing on every important music television show of the period. In 1984 The Blasters were also featured in Walter Hill's major motion-picture, "Streets Of Fire", for Universal Films. Gene also released his first solo record, 'Handmade', in 1986. If this wasn't enough, he also toured with the late Rick Nelson, between Blasters engagements. After leaving the Blasters at the end of 1985, and recording 'Handmade', Gene worked around Canada as a solo artist and with the Downchild Blues Band---a band that, years before, had inspired their fellow-Canadian Dan Akroyd to create the "Blues Brothers". In 1992 Gene played on the live Red Devils recording, "King King" (produced by Rick Rubin for Def American records)---since this band was founded by his old friend Bill Bateman, the drummer with the original Blasters. He also did 2 more Blasters tours in 1991 and 1992.
In 1993, Gene relocated to Austin, Texas, and joined The Fabulous Thunderbirds, remaining with this internationally-acclaimed band until September of 2006. During his almost-14 years with the T-Birds, he toured the world constantly and recorded two studio albums and one live album with the band---plus, a live DVD! He also played on 2 of T-Bird leader Kim Wilson's solo CD's. In 2003, Gene released a self-titled CD on the Pacific Blues label and participated in all the tours and recordings of the 'Original Blasters Reunion' from 2002-2003. He has also appeared on a recording (2006) with his dear friend, legendary L.A. bluesman, Carlos Guitarlos---and of course, Gene continues to record and perform with his friend of over 35 years, 'Icepick James' Harman (13 records and counting!).
The rules Dave Alvin has followed throughout his 24 years as a solo artist were discarded during the creation of his 11th album, Eleven Eleven. For the first time in his career he wrote songs while touring and recorded during breaks on his tours in 2010 with the Guilty Women. He used musicians he had not recorded with since his days in the Blasters, and for the first time ever, he sang on a record with his brother Phil, the lead
singer of the Blasters.
"While we were growing up there was a firm line between Phil and me," Dave says, referring to Blasters' division of labor: Phil sang, Dave wrote the songs and played lead guitar. "The main reason I decided to have him sing with me was that weÂ¹re not going to be here forever; we might as
well have fun. Life is too short."
Eleven Eleven features three duets: Phil and Dave on the simmering blues "What's Up With Your Brother"; Dave and Christy McWilson from the Guilty Women on the gentle country number "Manzanita" and the whimsical song, "Two Lucky Bums," the final recording of Dave and his best friend, the late Chris Gaffney. The rest of the material, rich in stories that stretch from R&B royalty to labor history to Harlan County in Kentucky, was written over the course of seven months. As he says with sly chuckle: "The songs are not necessarily true, but they¹re all autobiographical."
"It is the first album in which every song was either written or conceived on the road," Dave says. "When I go on the road, I shut off that part of my brain. ItÂ¹s really hard for me to write while touring, but I wanted to try something different on this album."
"Whenever we had a break and I'd return home, I'd call my revolving cast of the regular guys, see who was available to go in and record, cut a song, and head back on tour. With the exception of (the late legendary R&B saxophonist) Lee Allen, I had never used anybody from the Blasters on my solo records. Then I thought, well why not use them?"
While the backing cast varies, the constant through Eleven Eleven is Dave's assured guitar-playing, whether it's finger-picking on an acoustic against an accordion on "No Worries Mija" or blazing riffs on electric over a Bo Diddley beat on "Run Conejo Run." Eleven Eleven reunites Dave with pianist Gene Taylor, whose barrelhouse blues sound has not been heard
on an Alvin project since the final Blasters album, 1985's "Hard Line."
Taylor was one of several blues veterans who would pass through the band Dave and Phil Alvin founded in their hometown of Downey, Calif., in the late 1970s. Beginning in 1980 with the Blasters' debut album, Dave's songwriting pioneered the marriage of punk attitude with blues, California
country and rockabilly. The brothers called it "American music"; it would eventually be labeled by others as roots rock.
The Blasters released four studio albums between 1980 and 1985 and Dave's songs "Marie, Marie," "Border Radio" and, of course, "American Music" became staples of the burgeoning genre.
Dave's solo career began with 1987's "Romeo's Escape" and in 2000 he won the traditional folk Grammy for his collection of songs from the early part of the 20th century, Public Domain: Songs From the Wild Land.
Soon thereafter he began recording for Yep Roc, which released his last three albums, West of the West, Ashgrove and Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women.
"The songs on Eleven Eleven, Dave says, "are all about life, love, death, loss, money, justice, labor, faith, doubt, family and friendship. The usual stuff."
"Mortality has been an issue on my mind ever since Ashgrove.. Since finishing that album, I lost some great friends -- Gaffney, Amy Farris and Buddy Blue of the Beat Farmers. That weighed on me."
The result is an album with songs rich in vivid stories, taking listeners on a bounty hunt in "Murrietta's Head," a tawdry scene of seduction in "Dirty Nightgown" and a true crime recollection in "Johnny Ace is Dead." Dave's guitar work punctuates each tale, reinforcing moments of urgency, remorse and reflection.
Despite making the album with different musicians at sessions separated by weeks of time, Dave was consistent in getting a gritty, bluesy feel from start to finish. The studio, and engineer Craig Adams, played significant roles in getting that feel.
He recorded the album at Winslow Court Studio in Hollywood, the same studio where West of the West and Ashgrove were recorded, both of which Adams engineered.
"Winslow Court is an old Foley studio from the 1930s," Dave says. "It's about the size of Sun Studios and you can have everyone in a circle so you can make eye contact. A lot of the musical dynamics and the arrangement on the record comes just from being able to see each other. If everyone were in a cubicle you wouldn't get that vibe."
It's also the one studio where Dave can place his amp beside him and turn up the volume to capture the essence of a live recording.
"All great records, up to a certain point in time, were just a bunch of guys in a room. The Blasters tended to record the same way, but because ofc oncerns of engineers I wouldn't get my amp right next to me. The way Craig won me over was during the recording of Ashgrove. I asked 'mind if I make it louder?.' That was one of the few times an engineer has said
'turn it up.'."