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Traveling the Blues-Rock Continuum

What this journeyman guitarist is up to is nothing less than moving back and forth along the blues/rock continuum and finding what suits his own singular approach. In 1998 he won a critics' award from Downbeat Magazine for his second release, "Territory," which isn't really a blues CD. In 2002, he released "Down in the Alley," which is a blues CD — but when he played at Ashland Coffee & Tea that same year, he sounded more like Mountain and The Stones. Anyone at the show who expected to hear acoustic versions of songs by Son House, Skip James and Leadbelly got an entirely different treat. Hart's electric trio served up hard-edged covers of early '70s-style guitar-slinger fare, plus many of Hart's well-crafted originals.

It's always intriguing to hear artists' versions of songs that inspired them; it puts their own music into perspective. Remember what The Beatles and The Stones did with some of the old R&B and blues numbers they grew up loving. While listening to any of Alvin's four critically lauded CDs, one can scan the songwriting credits on the tunes he covers and find influences ranging from Chuck Berry to Captain Beefheart, Black Oak Arkansas to legendary kings of garage squall, The Sonics. Side by side with such inspirational touchstones, his own songs take on a different dimension. It's the sound of a man who loves his record collection. — Buzzy Lawler

Alvin Youngblood Hart plays Ashland Coffee & Tea Aug. 27. Tickets cost $12 and can be purchased online at, or by calling 798-1702.

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