January, February 2016
We attended 12 performances. All of them were, of course, excellent. At the age of 65 his voice still sounds, remarkably, better than ever.
Alvin has been in the recording studio producing the first of a two volume Doug Sahm tribute cd, to be titled "To Sir Doug, With Love, Volume One" which he hopes to release sometime around the first of May. Consequently, his onstage performances have found him singing a lot of Sir Doug's songs -- songs either written by Doug or else taken over by him. These are being wildly received by Alvin's fans and the Dougheads in attendance. Judging by a few of the test songs I have heard, Alvin and Jason's recordings are powerful, dynamic and poignant. This cd promises to be nothing short of outstanding and we are eagerly anticipating its release.
On another note, an acquaintance of mine, who I will refer to as The Country Music Expert, made this comment one night during a long sequence of Alvin performing Bob Wills music: "I could listen to Alvin doing nothing but Bob Wills all night long. Nobody does Bob Wills better than Alvin does it. Nobody." I will second that, noting the presence of a prominent band here in Austin which has been riding the Bob Wills coattails for many decades. So, Alvin, more of that great Bob Wills western swing, please. You are the best.
Alvin has a wide musical palette. In addition to Sir Doug and Bob Wills-type western swing, Alvin Crow performances will feature 50's and 60's rock and roll, music by Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Roky Erickson and an assortment of other singers too numerous to mention. On top of all that he will perform sets of what he calls hardcore country music. This is his bread-and-butter. He sings from the works of the great Jimmie Rodgers, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, "The Three Holy Hanks" -- Hank Williams, Hank Thompson and Hank Snow -- Buck Owens, Ernest Tubb, Webb Pierce, Harold Jenkins, Baldemar Huerta, the wonderful but obscure D. K. Little, Waylon Jennings and, of course, Willie, in addition to the own satchel of interesting and entertaining songs Alvin has written himself, along with many, many other great country artists that are too numerous to mention. And, other than on a few obvious occasions, when Alvin sings he doesn't try to emulate or copy the voices of others. Rather, he sings in his own warm, rich, innate vocal style and does so in a way that not only makes you appreciate those singers but makes you think that his versions are somehow the best versions.
Someone once referred to him as "the living, breathing jukebox" and it's an accurate description. Alvin comes prepared with no set list nor rehearsals but only with an encyclopedic memory of songs which very often produces an output of forty to fifty songs during any single performance.
And then there is his incomparable fiddle playing, what he calls his "deal with the devil." Many people probably do think of Alvin Crow as a fiddle player first -- and I will argue the point -- but it's understandable when you listen to him accompany himself while he's singing, especially on songs like West Texas Wind or Rearview Mirror or any of the innumerable Bob Wills songs that he performs. Speaking of which, his fiddle performance of Maiden's Prayer is exquisite.