Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore
If one were asked to pick the one man most responsible for keeping countrified roots music alive and vital, one generation would probably cite once-and-future Blasters mainman Dave Alvin, while another is just as likely to champion longtime prairie icon Jimmie Dale Gilmore, whose musical career dates back more than 50 years. Alvin, who grew up in Downey and was schooled in Long Beach, has a lengthy history of burning down area venues, from AMSDconcerts in National City (where he played earlier this year) to the Belly Up and all notable points in between, including the Casbah, House of Blues, and Viejas. Texas country-western pioneer Jimmie Dale Gilmore hasn’t appeared on a San Diego stage since early 2012, when he was plugging his Heirloom Music album with bluegrass backing crew the Wronglers, featuring both early-20th-century folk covers. Gilmore (twice named Rolling Stone’s Country Artist of the Year) hasn’t done a lot of recording since then, though he’s often seen playing around his Austin home and occasionally touring with setlists heavy on tunes from his ’70s band with Joe Ely, the Flatlanders, which still occasionally reconvenes.
Alvin’s newest full-length dropped in 2015, Lost Time, a collaborative reunion with brother Phil Alvin, and it wasn’t until the following year that he realized he and Gilmore, though friends for over 30 years, had never performed together. To remedy this, the duo has been staging some amazing sets, many immortalized on YouTube, tackling each other’s originals as well as covering everyone from Sam Cooke to Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and the Youngbloods. If the recent clips online are any indication, songs they might trot out at the Belly Up on July 25 include “Abilene,” “Marie Marie,” “Deportee,” “Stealin’,” and “King of California.”