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Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore

When Grammy winner Dave Alvin and Grammy nominee Jimmie Dale Gilmore made the album Downey To Lubbock together in 2018, they wrote the title track as a sort of mission statement. “I know someday this old highway’s gonna come to an end,” Alvin sings near the song’s conclusion. Gilmore answers: “But I know when it does you’re going to be my friend.”

Six years later, they’re serving notice that the old highway hasn’t ended yet. “We’re still standing, no matter what you might hear,” they sing on “We’re Still Here,” the final track to their new album Texicali. Due out Jun 21, 2024 on Yep Roc Records, Texicali continues to bridge the distance between the two troubadours’ respective home bases of California (Alvin) and Texas

The album’s geographic theme reflects Alvin’s repeated journeys to record in Central Texas with Gilmore and the Austin-based backing band that has toured with the duo for the past few years. The 11 songs on Texicali also connect the duo’s shared fondness for a broad range of American music forms. On their own, both have been prominent artists for decades. A philosophical songwriter with a captivating, almost mystical voice, Gilmore co-founded influential Lubbock group the Flatlanders in the early 1970s. Alvin first drew attention as a firebrand guitarist and budding young songwriter with Los Angeles roots-rockers the Blasters in the early 1980s.

Gilmore is primarily known for left-of-center country music, while Alvin’s compass points largely toward old-school blues. But there’s a lot of ground to cover beyond those foundations, and both artists also are well-known for transcending genre limitations. So it’s not surprising that they’ve spiked Texicali with cosmic folk narratives, deep R&B grooves and even swinging reggae rhythms. “There’s such a strange variety through the whole thing,” Gilmore says. “And I love that.”

They’re both quick to credit the musicians who joined them in the studio as crucial to the sound and spirit of the album. On Downey To Lubbock, they recorded primarily in Los Angeles with a crew that included ringers such as the late Don Heffington on drums and Van Dyke Parks on accordion. This time, though, Alvin’s longtime rhythm section of drummer Lisa Pankratz and bassist Brad Fordham played a larger role, along with guitarist Chris Miller and keyboardist Bukka Allen. “After the time we spent touring, Jimmie and I became members of this band,” Alvin says. “The band can play just about anything, which the album shows off.”

Texicali also found Alvin and Gilmore increasingly focusing on original songs. Among them are “Trying To Be Free,” which Gilmore wrote more than 50 years ago; “Southwest Chief,” a collaboration between Alvin and the late Bill Morrissey; and “Death of the Last Stripper,” which Alvin wrote with Terry Allen and his wife Jo Harvey Allen.

Just as important, however, are the choices they made for non-original material. The covers on Texicali include “Roll Around” by Gilmore’s longtime friend Butch Hancock; “Broke Down Engine” and “Betty And Dupree” from blues greats Blind Willie McTell and Brownie McGhee, respectively; and Stonewall Jackson’s “That’s Why I’m Walking,” which marries Gilmore’s country croon to a New Orleans R&B arrangement. Gilmore says he loves New Orleans music, “but it’s not the music I play.” Dave slyly counters: “It is now!”

J. Isaiah Evans & The Boss Tweed

Garageicana Rock-N-Roll. That’s that J. Isaiah Evans calls the music made with his backing band, The Boss Tweed. Applying the organ trio format to roots rock, the three-piece of Evans (Guitar/Vocals), Matthew Vasquez (Keys/Organ) and Spud Crowley (Drums) make a big noise for a small band.

The sound of JIE & The Boss Tweed can be traced from Bo Diddley through to The Animals and The Sonics and on to The Black Keys with just enough country boogie to remind you they’re from Texas. With one overdriven guitar, a pulsing rock-n-roll organ and pounding drums, J. Isaiah Evans & the Boss Tweed are out to prove that less is more.