Dave Alvin & the Guilty Men

Alvin and company merge electric blues and rock closely with folk roots on this collection of live cuts, which were recorded at club dates across California in 2001 and January 2002. Stunning ensemble work by Rick Shea on steel pedal, Brantley Kearns on fiddle and Joe Terry on keyboards give this music an Alejandro Escovedo feel; then add Alvin’s adaptive guitar work and bass growl for vocals. Best stuff here: the Bill Haley tribute (“Haley’s Comet”; the haunting acoustic story of the Civil War, “Andersonville”; a great, full-band, hard-blues rendition of “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” with guest harmonica blowing from John “Juke” Logan; and the Haggard and Owens-styled “Highway 99”). Alvin and the boys pump out great American music all year long in clubs across the country, and this CD provides the energetic documentation.