X

X were the quintessential L.A. punk rockers before they grew into a world-class rock & roll band and live band; however, enthusiasm for their unique, intelligent and humorous work never quite reached critical mass.

Formed in 1977 after songwriter and bassist John Doe (b. Feb. 24, 1956) met (and later married) Exene Cervenka (b. Feb. 1, 1956) at a Venice poetry workshop, with rockabilly veteran Billy Zoom (b. Feb. 20, 194?) on guitar and D.J. Bonebrake (b. Dec. 8, 1955) on drums, the band garnered an immediate following. “Discovered” by ex-Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, he took the band into the studio for the recording of Los Angeles in 1980. It was curious, at a time when punks were supposed to hate hippies, that X’s merging with an ex-Door was not only tolerated, but earned them stature as California’s preeminent punk band when the record earned across-the-board raves. 1981 saw the release of the similarly punked-up Wild Gift, while their 1982 album, Under the Big Black Sun, began what would be a long career in merging hard rock, country and folk into their fiery mix. The band successfully began to mix in their populist politics with an eye toward matters of the heart.

As the band began to reach wider audiences, both Doe and Cervenka enjoyed outside careers in the arts — he as an actor in films like Great Balls of Fire and Roadside Prophets, and she as a poet and spoken-word artist, collaborating with Lydia Lunch and Wanda Coleman.

In 1983, the rootsy songs on More Fun in the New World lent themselves to acoustic performances which the band had taken to trying live. They took it one step further on their side project, the Knitters (with Dave Alvin) which yielded one Slash album, Poor Little Critter in the Road, in 1985. Ain’t Love Grand was a harder rock album in 1986 and was followed by Zoom’s departure. He was momentarily replaced by Alvin, but for recording purposes, the band recruited Tony Gilkyson (formerly of Lone Justice) for See How We Are, the band’s most decidedly hard-rock record in the catalog. Gilkyson stayed for the recording Live at the Whisky A Go-Go in 1988 before the band took some much-needed time off, although they never broke up. In the interim, Doe and Cervenka had since divorced, and the pair continued to work as solo artists, releasing Cervenka’s Old Wives Tales (Rhino, 1989) and Running Sacred (1990) and Doe’s Meet John Doe for Geffen in 1990.

By 1993, the band got together for the recording of Hey Zeus!, a collection of new songs, but the response was underwhelming, and it was back to solo work. Doe released Kissingsohard for Rhino in 1995. Exene also released Surface to Air Serpents for the 2.13.61 label, as well as a reading of the Unabomber Manifesto, after changing her name to Cervenkova. During their frequent hiatuses, X would occasionally appear in Los Angeles and San Francisco and during one stay, recorded a live album in San Francisco in 1995, Unclogged, and self-released it. Cervenkova’s latest project is Auntie Christ with Bonebrake and Matt Freeman of Rancid. Gilkyson also works as a solo artist. X also appeared in three films: Penelope Spheeris’ punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, Urgh! A Music War, and a documentary of their lives and times, The Unheard Music. Beginning in 1998, founding member Billy Zoom returned to the fold for a series of on-again/off-again shows and limited touring; a pair of 2004 Los Angeles concerts were recorded and videotaped for Live in Los Angeles, released both as an audio CD and video DVD in the spring of 2005.

THE BLASTERS

The all-American roots music band, the Blasters were principally brothers Dave and Phil Alvin whose first-hand experience with blues masters shaped their sound and turned them both into contemporary singer/songwriters whose interest in roots rock has never waned.

The brothers, along with Bill Bateman on drums and John Bazz on bass, grew up in Downey California, in the shadow of Disneyland. Their musical education involved hanging out with musicians like Lee Allen, Marcus Johnson, and T-Bone Walker, all of whom tipped the band to the ways of blues and R&B. Ironically, by the time they were ready to work in Los Angeles clubs, the punk rock explosion was in full swing, and they found an audience for their rough-and-ready sound among the punks, particularly fans of X with whom they frequently shared the bill. American Music (1980) was a collection of roots covers and like-minded originals. Followed by The Blasters (1981, Slash), the band had added veteran pianist Gene Taylor, baritone saxophonist Steve Berlin and mentor Allen on tenor sax. Amazingly, the album reached number 36 on the charts. In 1982, they recorded the live EP, Over There for Slash, followed by 1983's Non-Fiction. Less focused on rockabilly revivalism, Dave Alvin had become the band's chief cook and songwriter. Berlin had since left the fold to join Los Lobos. Hard Line followed in 1985. The band called it a day after that, though several years later Phil Alvin reformed the group as a live act without Dave. The current version of the Blasters is a phenomenal live band, featuring all original members except for Dave.

$30 advance - $35 day of show

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X with THE BLASTERS

Friday, November 29 · Doors 7:30 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Crescent Ballroom

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