Phil Alvin was reeling from the stinging sweat in his eyes, starting in the very first song of Tuesday's set at a sold-out Iota. He shook the perspiration from his round cherub-from-Hell face as he played guitar and sang "Long White Cadillac," a house-rocking meditation on what Hank Williams might have been thinking the night he died.
Ah yes, the Blasters were in town.
And so it went, with the L.A. rockers romping through "Border Radio," "So Long Baby Goodbye," "I'm Shakin' " and, for the first encore, "Marie Marie," perhaps the perfect roots-rock song.
Touring in support of last year's release "4-11-44," the reconfigured band included Alvin and original bassist John Bazz, joined by drummer Jerry Angel and guitarist Keith Wyatt, whose death-defying, scale-climbing solo on "Dark Night" was as transcendent as any performed by the song's composer, Phil Alvin's kid brother Dave, who is now doing the solo thing.
It was over all too soon. The last song of the night, the second encore, was the first song from their first album, "American Music," a subject they had been celebrating for 90 minutes.
The evening's opener, Timothy Bracken and his band, showed the benefits of woodshedding, the practice of polishing your songs for as long as it takes until they're ready to reveal to the public. Tim, they're ready.
The four-piece unit's bright and tight set was made up of clever arrangements, catchy hooks and a sound that absolutely defines the genre of alternative indie pop. With the right break, Bracken could give Fountains of Wayne some competition.
-- Buzz McClain