I heard a lot of live music over the summer–a lot for me anyway–but the last time I posted about one was an outdoor festival/concert in Venice Beach headlined by the Strawberry Alarm Clock. Someone there may have preferred the headliner over Barry Melton’s band of 60s San Francisco musicians, but it wasn’t me. Similarly, last night, though I went to the Casbah to hear the Blasters, the Alvin brothers’ rockabilly band from Downey that I’d heard of for years but never heard or seen, it the opening act, the Sleepwalkers, made me stand still and stare.
Mind you, nothing wrong with the Blasters. I might have liked them better if I hadn’t heard the Sleepwalkers first. Dave Alvin’s guitar is as good as anyone’s, and Phil Alvin played some pretty good straight harp, and there was plenty of energy, but the Sleepwalkers had more. I’ve only been going to concerts with my current frequency for about a year, and I’m sometimes at a loss for genre names, but I’m told I can call the Sleepwalkers Chicano Rockabilly, closer to Los Lobos than anyone else I know, but to me they make Los Lobos sound like Steely Dan. Or maybe that’s just the enthusiasm of the night. Their configuration is like the Stones, except that the bass is a standup, but this is no skinny British band. I’m sorry I don’t know anyone’s names. The lead guitarist was tremendous. A big guy, he’d play a solo and then turn his back and do something like a fist pump, as though he’d just scored a touchdown.
This is happy-making music, like X for another. Sometimes you want something softer, like Lana Del Rey, or more challenging lyrics, like Father John Misty, to name two I’ve heard this past year. But sometimes–not that they’re that much alike–you want the Stones, or the Sleepwalkers.