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Lindi Ortega and Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin heat up Wide Skies Music Festival

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I was pleased to catch most of Lindi Ortega’s set at the Southminster United Church for the second day of the Wide Skies Music Festival. A good sized crowd was sweltering inside Southminster United Church for a hot set of country and roots music.Lindi Ortega and guitarist Champagne James Robertson at Southminster United Church, July 26. Photo by Richard Amery
 Ortega had a lovely wavering, powerful yet plaintive voice as she and guitarist Champagne James Robertson played her new EP “What A Girl’s Got To Do,” including the the title track.


 She played songs from most of her CDs ranging from brand new like “What‘s a Girl Got To do, which she prefaced with a story about a guy taking her on a date to the strip club and meeting some of the strippers in the washroom and asking them if they enjoy what they’re doing, to plaintive love songs like“ Dying of Another Broken Heart,” from one of her  early EPs.


 I enjoyed the more upbeat numbers like raucous slide powered blues/ country“ Run Down Neighbourhood.”
The line up changed form just Ortega singing with her guitar player, but she picked up an acoustic guitar for some lovely fingerpicking on a couple of songs and was joined by a drummer for more upbeat numbers.
 For slower songs “Cigarettes and Truck Stops” was a highlight.

She ended her set with a slow,  spooky, menacing version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”


If it was hot outside, it was even hotter inside, not only due to the lack of air conditioning, but because of Dave and Phil Alvin’s scorching set of uptempo, heartfelt blues and roots music.


The brothers made up for “Lost Time,” having never played here together, though Dave Alvin played the Geomatic Attic with his band in 2010. There was gentle ribbing and lots of stories and jokes in between songs from their two CDs together “Common Ground: A Tribute to big Bill Broonzy” and “Lost Time,” Dave Alvin solo projects and old songs from their ’80s rockabilly/ roots band  the Blasters.
Chris Miller, drummer Lisa Pankratz and her husband Brad Fordham on bass provided an impressive backing band.


 Dave Alvin played sweet solos on his Stratocaster while Miller added subtle slide guitar on a couple of tracks. The exceptionally long fingered Phil Alvin proved to be no slouch , soloing on acoustic guitar though , his powerfully soulful tenor voice  allowed the songs to ring true through the Southminster United Church.


Dave Alvin’s smooth baritone reminiscent of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings’ Tom Wilson, provided a beautiful balance of vocal harmony.


 An early highlight, a gospel song originally written in the ’30s, but more and more relevant today was “I Declare the World’s in A Bad Condition.”


 They picked up the tempo and the fun level with Oscar Brown Jr.’s  “Mr. Kicks,” one of several old blues songs they played, which included several Big Joe Turner and Big Bill Broonzy’s toe tappers.
 “Border Radio,” The firs Dave and Phil Alvin and the Guilty Few playing Southminster United Church for the Wide Skies Music Festival, July 26. Photo by Richard Ameryt Blasters song they played,  Dave Alvin introduced with a story about listening to radio from Mexico and Texas, and observed his brother was always the smartest one who was “smart enough to hire me as the songwriter.” So he introduced several songs by chuckling “here’s another song  I wrote for my brother to sing.”


 A solo Dave Alvin song “ Johnny Ace is Dead” was another of my favourites, as he observed the border radio stations would get requests for ’50s pop / rockabilly star Johnny Ace.
 Another highlight was a jam of the first song, Dave Alvin wrote, getting the brothers to reunite “ What’s With Your Brother,” which allowed plenty of jokes and solos for everyone in the band.


 Drummer Lisa Pankratz was a blur throughout and got to really show her talents near the end of the show as Dave and Phil Alvin, put their arms around each other, stood back and watch her hammer away at her skins during the last song of an extended jam of the Blasters’ “Marie Marie,” which Dave Alvin noted became immensely popular with the Louisiana zydeco scene, and which drew a standing ovation.
 They were called back for an encore.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 August 2017 13:49 )  
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