American roots-rock great Dave Alvin fights ageism in the media

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By Steve Newton

American roots-rock greats Dave and Phil Alvin are booked to play the Electric Owl on June 30, so a couple of days ago I called Dave up at his home in L.A. to get the scoop on what he’s been up to lately and help promote the show a bit.

During the course of our conversation the 59-year-old guitarist and singer-songwriter pointed out that, the older he gets, the harder it is to win support from media outlets, especially those in his home country.

“There is certainly ageism,” he claimed, “where older acts [clears throat emphatically] are disciminated against in some way. For example, it’s been real difficult for my brother and I–or just me on my own–to get on national television in the States. We’ve been told we’re ‘too old’ and we’re ‘not famous enough’. That’s just the reality.

“We went over to Europe last fall,” he added, “and we were on the Jools Holland TV show with U2 and Sam Smith, you know. And it was a great experience. But we’d never get that in the States–for whatever reason.”

If you ask me, American TV is suffering from a severe case of HUA (Head Up Ass) syndrome if it’s turning down coverage of a musician of Dave Alvin’s calibre. For fvck’s sake, hasn’t American TV heard the guitar playing on his latest album, last year’s Grammy-nominated Common Ground?

American TV can piss right off.

For more from Dave Alvin–including the story behind his brother’s near-death experience in Spain–see the preview in this week’s Georgia Straight. Read it on paper for that old-school Big Bill Broonzy vibe.

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