By Bryan Stoker
Deja vu may or may not be a real thing, but last night when The Blasters walked on stage at the Rumba Cafe and played the first notes to Long White Cadillac, I wasn’t sure if I was 33 and at the Rumba or if I was 5 and at the Ohio State Fair. Back then, I was seeing Dwight Yoakam at my very first concert and he opened his show playing the same song. After a few minutes trying to figure out how many other people have seen two separate bands open a show with the exact same song, I was able to gather myself and take in one of the better shows I have seen.
I am too young to have seen the Ramones in their heyday but the stories of 1, 2, 3 GO! have lived forever, and that method is employed by The Blasters. The only “between song banter” was a simple “thank you” by lead singer and guitarist Phil Alvin. I guess they figure the people there last night paid to hear their songs, not listen to them tell stories and jokes.
The Blasters powered through 90 minutes in the blink of an eye. They played the big songs, some of the unknown ones, and even a couple covers. Some of the best songs of the night were the aforementioned Long White Cadillac, Border Radio, So Long Baby Goodbye, I’m Shakin’, and Marie, Marie. For this music critic the song Dark Night was the highlight. Here the band really showcased the fret work of Cleveland Ohio’s own Keith Wyatt. If I had to bottle up the cowpunk sound The Blasters made famous in the mid to late 80’s, his guitar work here would be what I would use. It was rhythmic like all good punk rock should be, but had the complexity that all great rockabilly guitar is famous for. Phil Alvin’s vocals sounded as good as ever for a guy that has been singing for as long as he has. John Bazz and Bill Bateman held down one of the tightest rhythm sections I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. The music isn’t self indulgent or flashy, but it is honest, melodic, rhythmic, and down right fun.
Just down the road, Rock on the Range was happening, and some of the people I have the pleasure of working with at this magazine were Rocking on that Range. Many of the same things were happening at both places. People were drinking, socializing, maybe partaking in an activity or two that isn’t as legal in Ohio as it is in other parts of the country. There was one major difference in the music though, The Blasters seem to understand what the youth of today has forgotten. Rock-n-roll is fun, it's music you can enjoy, music you can dance to, life isn’t that serious. For this writer, it’s tough to have a lot of fun when the music seems so angry.
After all you young guys and gals get done listening to the high powered rock of the modern era, after you have rocked all you can on that range, do yourself a favor and find some Blasters songs to listen to. I promise you won’t regret it. The Blasters can be defined as a two-word phrase, American Music, just like their song says.