Dave Alvin’s “dead” brother Phil returns for another rootsy splash in the river of life

By Steve Newton Three years ago, American roots-rock great Dave Alvin had the fright of his life. His older brother Phil—with whom he’d shared many a van, hotel room, and stage over the years in the Blasters—damn near passed away while on tour in Spain. In fact, he was technically toast. “He couldn’t breathe on-stage,” … Continue reading Dave Alvin’s “dead” brother Phil returns for another rootsy splash in the river of life

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

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

The Blasters’ Dave Alvin wants to search the Commodore for lost brain cells

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 5, 2002 By Steve Newton Back in 1985, the Blasters were building a reputation as one of North America’s premier roots-rock acts. Then one cold November night in Montreal, the ongoing quarrels between guitarist Dave Alvin and his older brother, vocalist Phil, boiled over. After a particularly disastrous … Continue reading The Blasters’ Dave Alvin wants to search the Commodore for lost brain cells

Dave Alvin recalls how his record label wanted him to sound like Eurythmics

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 28, 1991 By Steve Newton Rock ’n’ roll bands can be like families. A band offers its members a place where they can have a sense of belonging, where they can look out for one another, and where they can share the joys of their good fortune—whether that … Continue reading Dave Alvin recalls how his record label wanted him to sound like Eurythmics

Newt’s top 5 Vancouver concerts of 2015: U2, Foos, Skynyrd, Alvins, Emmanuel

Skynyrd photo by Kevin Statham, all other photos by the Newt By Steve Newton Lynyrd Skynyrd at Hard Rock Casino Vancouver on March 20. “When you’ve got three shit-hot guitarists tearing up the place on deathless southern-rock songs you can’t really go wrong, in my book.” U2 (above) at Rogers Arena on May 14: “The encore … Continue reading Newt’s top 5 Vancouver concerts of 2015: U2, Foos, Skynyrd, Alvins, Emmanuel

The Alvin brothers blast the roof off in Vancouver at a roots-rock hoedown for the ages

all crappy iPhone photos by the newt By Steve Newton “I was teaching math when I first heard the Sex Pistols,”  Phil Alvin told me back in 1983, “and then I said, ‘Allright, good. I can play again.’ So I quit teaching.” Thank god Alvin caught wind of Johnny Rotten and his band of miscreants, … Continue reading The Alvin brothers blast the roof off in Vancouver at a roots-rock hoedown for the ages

The Blasters’ Phil Alvin on the roots of rock, the Sex Pistols, and Queen

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 10, 2013 By Steve Newton Thirty years ago today–on March 10, 1983–the Blasters played the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. Maybe you were there? The group–then composed of singer-guitarist Phil Alvin, his younger brother Dave Alvin on lead guitar, pianist Gene Taylor, bassist John Bazz, and drummer Bill Bateman–was in its … Continue reading The Blasters’ Phil Alvin on the roots of rock, the Sex Pistols, and Queen

Exclusive excerpt from my new book, Gord Downie, about the late frontman of the Tragically Hip

By Steve Newton The following is the Preface from my new coffeetable book, Gord Downie, published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. of New York City and currently available at Indigo, Coles, and Chapters outlets across Canada. ———————————————————————- The first time I spoke to Gord Downie he was a longhaired 25-year-old rocker touring behind his band’s first full-length … Continue reading Exclusive excerpt from my new book, Gord Downie, about the late frontman of the Tragically Hip

My 50 fave Vancouver concerts of all time (so far)

By Steve Newton In celebration of the Georgia Straight turning 50 this year, I figured I’d offer a roundup of the 50 top Vancouver concerts I’ve reviewed while writing for the paper since 1982. Maybe you made it out to a couple yourself! Although I doubt you weaseled your way backstage at the Orpheum in ’93 to … Continue reading My 50 fave Vancouver concerts of all time (so far)

The rootsy gut-bucket boogie of the Paladins turns the Newt into a dancing fool in Vancouver

ORIGINAL PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUGUST 15, 1991 By Steve Newton Men Without Hats immortalized the idea “You can dance if you want to.” I dunno—sometimes I just can’t dance. But I was a regular dancin’ fool at the Commodore last Friday (August 9), and the decision to get up there and make Ed … Continue reading The rootsy gut-bucket boogie of the Paladins turns the Newt into a dancing fool in Vancouver

Rolling Stone can piss right off: here’s the 100 Greatest Guitarists (that I’ve interviewed) and 50 that I haven’t (yet)

By Steve Newton Google “100 greatest guitarists” these days and what shows up at the top is a total joke. It’s the high ‘n’ mighty Rolling Stone‘s list of the so-called finest, posted from 2015. And man does it suck. But what do you expect from the same bozos who oversee the Rock and Roll … Continue reading Rolling Stone can piss right off: here’s the 100 Greatest Guitarists (that I’ve interviewed) and 50 that I haven’t (yet)

Newt’s Top 10 albums of 2014

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, DEC. 10, 2014 By Steve Newton One of the biggest music stories of 2014 concerned the trials and tribulations of AC/DC, which had one original member retire due to dementia and another facing criminal charges. The return of Pink Floyd after two decades also made a few headlines—or garnered a ton … Continue reading Newt’s Top 10 albums of 2014

Newt’s Top 10 albums of 2015

By Steve Newton The more I see pictures of headphone-wearing DJs alone on-stage, dickin’ around with laptops and turntables, the more I think: fvck off. Bottle Rockets South Broadway Athletic Club  One of the world’s most underrated bands comes up with a killer album of catchy guitar rock that rivals its stellar ’94 release, The Brooklyn … Continue reading Newt’s Top 10 albums of 2015

The Newt’s top 10 albums of 2014: yep, AC/DC’s on there

AC/DC Rock or Bust With the help of Langley’s Mike Fraser as engineer and mixer, the Australian hard-rock icons create a fitting follow-up to 2008’s hugely successful Black Ice album. Its first-ever album without stalwart rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young shows the band in fine, swaggering form. Pink Floyd  The Endless River The prog-rock legends’ first album in … Continue reading The Newt’s top 10 albums of 2014: yep, AC/DC’s on there

Vancouver’s Bughouse 5 taps Darryl Neudorf’s talent on Bull Mercury

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 14, 2000 If you so much as glanced at either of Vancouver’s English-language dailies last year, you probably spotted the frequent front-page coverage of the trial wherein local musician Darryl Neudorf accused Sarah McLachlan of not paying him enough for his creative participation in a number of her … Continue reading Vancouver’s Bughouse 5 taps Darryl Neudorf’s talent on Bull Mercury

The Pleasure Barons’ Mojo Nixon promises to catapult Country Dick to the bar

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 18, 1993 By Steve Newton Ain’t technology grand? Why, with today’s awesome tools of communication, you can phone people from your car, beep their bodies with a pager, or send dirty cartoons to them on a fax machine. Heck, you can even use a speaker-phone to talk to … Continue reading The Pleasure Barons’ Mojo Nixon promises to catapult Country Dick to the bar

Southern Culture on the Skids tones down the white-trash shtick

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MAY 6, 2004 By Steve Newton When the Straight connects with Southern Culture on the Skids guitarist-vocalist Rick Miller, he’s on a cellphone in his band’s van, cruising through the Pennsylvania countryside en route to a Pittsburgh gig. The vehicle is a late-model Ford Econoline, a replacement for the trio’s previous set … Continue reading Southern Culture on the Skids tones down the white-trash shtick

Stephen King calls Marah America’s best unknown rock band

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, FEB. 2, 2006 By Steve Newton Not only is Stephen King among the world’s most popular writers, he also has good taste in music. He’s long been known as a devotee of AC/DC and the Ramones, and when it came time to choose a pseudonym to put on the covers of … Continue reading Stephen King calls Marah America’s best unknown rock band

Underrated Marshall Crenshaw flies under the pop radar

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, FEB. 27, 2013 By Steve Newton In the annals of underappreciated pop-rock singer-songwriters, Marshall Crenshaw is probably at the top of the chart. Some may vaguely recall him hitting the top 40 back in 1982 with the single “Someday, Someway”, but it’s quite likely that even more remember rockabilly crooner Robert … Continue reading Underrated Marshall Crenshaw flies under the pop radar

concert reviews

So, yeah, I’ve reviewed a few shows over the years. IRON MAIDEN at Rogers Arena, Sept. 3, 2019 SONNY LANDRETH at the Rio Theatre, Aug. 24, 2019 BAND OF FRIENDS at the Fox Cabaret, Dec. 18, 2018 ROGER WATERS at Rogers Arena, Oct. 28, 2017 GUNS N’ ROSES at BC Place Stadium, Sept. 1, 2017 THE … Continue reading concert reviews

interviews

Some of my interviews, arranged alphabetically, from AC/DC to ZZ Top AC/DC Malcolm Young & Brian Johnson, 1983 AEROSMITH Joe Perry, Sept. 2010 AEROSMITH Steven Tyler, 1997 AEROSMITH Joe Perry, 1997 AEROSMITH Tom Hamilton, 1994 AEROSMITH Joe Perry, 1988 AEROSMITH Tom Hamilton, 1983 TOMMY ALDRIDGE 2001 ALICE IN CHAINS Jerry Cantrell, 1991 ALL Bill Stevenson, 1993 … Continue reading interviews

Jeff Healey jams at Vancouver’s Yale Pub before tearing up the Town Pump with a feedback-laden “Oh Canada”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 8, 1988 By Steve Newton Jeff Healey loves to play guitar. Two long, sweat-soaked nights at the Town Pump obviously weren’t going to be enough for the blind blues ace. So he could be seen down at the Yale Saturday afternoon (July 2), taking part in the pub’s … Continue reading Jeff Healey jams at Vancouver’s Yale Pub before tearing up the Town Pump with a feedback-laden “Oh Canada”

Mason Ruffner was inspired by Jimmy Page to inject fire into his Gypsy Blood

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 31, 1987 By Steve Newton The Fabulous Thunderbirds are from Austin, Texas. Mason Ruffner is from Forth Worth. The Fabulous Thunderbirds hit it big last year with an album produced by Dave Edmunds. Mason Ruffner is hitting it big this year with an album produced by Dave Edmunds. … Continue reading Mason Ruffner was inspired by Jimmy Page to inject fire into his Gypsy Blood