The Blasters, X, Knitters due for Jan. 26 Phil Alvin benefit

Singer Phil Alvin, second from left, in a 2009 promotional photo with current lineup of the roots-rock band the Blasters.

The original members of the Blasters will reunite and be joined by X, the Knitters and other veteran Southland roots rock musicians Jan. 26 in a benefit dubbed “Brotherly Love: A Night for Our Brother Phil Alvin.”

Blasters founding member and lead singer Alvin was hit by the powerful Mersa virus a little over a year ago and nearly died last summer during a relapse, according to his brother, guitarist, singer and songwriter Dave Alvin. He has since recovered but has amassed significant medical bills that benefit organizers hope their event will help him pay off.


“After his release from the hospital, he was on massive amounts of antibiotics for three months that severely depleted his immune system,” Dave Alvin tells Pop & Hiss. “He went on a European tour with [The Blasters] in June of this year and in Valencia, Spain, he was hospitalized because he couldn’t breathe.

“After flat-lining in the emergency room, he was brought back to consciousness by a Spanish doctor named Dr. Maria (as in ‘Marie Marie,’ ironically) and a tracheotomy was performed,” Alvin added. “He remained in the Spanish hospital for a little over two weeks undergoing treatment. He’s fine now and singing better than before, believe it or not.”

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The irony Dave Alvin notes about the name of the doctor who treated his brother doubles up in light of the Spanish-language translation of “Marie Marie” -- as “Maria Maria” -- that the Alvin brothers had performed a few weeks earlier at the Greek Theatre during Los Lobos’ first Cinco de Mayo Festival.


The Jan. 26 performance, which will take place at the Observatory in Santa Ana, also will include sets by blues singer-harmonica player James Harman, the Mike Eldred Trio, Frank Fairfield and emcee Big Sandy of Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys.

Dave Alvin said that an exact copy of the 1964 Fender Mustang guitar he played during his time in the Blasters will be signed by participants and auctioned off during the concert, and that “other odds and ends including a commemorative poster ... will be for sale.”


He noted that the event had already sold out, and said that he and X’s manager, Mike Rowse, who helped him put the benefit together, didn’t think another show or a bigger venue would be needed. “It looks like this income will be enough, hopefully, to cover his debts.”



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