Premiere: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin trace their roots in ‘Lost Time’

Phil Alvin, left and brother Dave Alvin

Siblings Phil, left, and Dave Alvin in Downey on Aug. 31, 2015. The brothers’ new album, “Lost Time,” further explores the blues and R&B influences that inspired the Downey residents as kids before they grew up and formed the Blasters roots-rock band. 

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The Times is premiering “Lost Time,” the new album from Southern California roots-rock veterans Dave and Phil Alvin.

It’s their second collaboration as siblings, following 2013’s Grammy-nominated “Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy,” saluting the blues great.

This time out, the Alvins broaden the canvas beyond a single artist, dipping into the songbooks of several of the roots musicians whose music ignited their own passion for American blues, R&B, soul, folk, country, gospel and early rock as they grew up south of Los Angeles in the suburban bedroom community of Downey.

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Those strains all came together in the group they formed in the late-‘70s, the Blasters, which helped ignite a roots-rock resurgence in Southern California and beyond in the early 1980s.

I met with the Alvins at a Downey restaurant to discuss their choice of material and the impact these songs, and artists, had and continue to have on their approach to music. The full feature is in Tuesday’s Calendar section.

First and foremost this time is singer Big Joe Turner, whom they befriended in the 1960s, when they were teenagers and Turner was living and working in and around Los Angeles while still touring nationally when his health permitted.

Elder brother Phil recalled first meeting Turner at a club in L.A. and hearing him sing “Wee Baby Blues,” one of four Turner songs the Alvins included on “Lost Time.” They’ve also recorded James Brown’s scorching “Please Please Please,” a folk arrangement of “In New Orleans (Rising Sun Blues),” the Golden Gate Quartet’s “World’s in a Bad Condition,” which they discovered in a recording by bluesman Tampa Red, plus songs from Lead Belly, Oscar Brown Jr. and several others.


They’re about to start touring together again, with support from Dave’s touring and recording band, the Guilty Ones. The tour starts Sept. 16, in Denver, and brings them back to the Southland for a homecoming show Nov. 14 at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.

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