IN TUNE: A beaming, playful, full-throated Phil Alvin joined his younger brother Dave onstage at City Winery last night, ripping through “Border Radio,” “One Bad Stud” and — what else? — “Marie Marie” — after dueting on “What’s Up With Your Brother,” Dave’s musical response to old-time Blasters fans who’ve wondered how the man with the familar grimace has been faring.
Alvin and his crackerjack three-piece, the Guilty Ones, had just crafted a set of his darker songs — among them, “Harlan County Line,” “Out of Control” and “Johnny Ace is Dead” — when Phil emerged from the wings to answer the call, bringing the already-stoked, packed City Winery crowd to its feet.
Phil — who’s had a few health scares in recent years — sounded strong as the brothers slid into a Blasters favorite:
Dave and the Guilty Ones are on a brief Northeast tour. The gigs were already booked when he and Phil were selected for a musical written by Stephen King and John Mellencamp – the CD of which was released this past week — called “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.”
Produced by T-Bone Burnett, it features Taj Mahal, Kris Kristofferson, Neko Case, Roseanne Cash and Elvis Costello, among others, giving voice to the story of two brothers driven by jealousy.
And in the title roles …
“I got a phone call from John Mellancamp,” Dave told the crowd last night. “He said, ‘You wanna be in this musical play? You get to kill your brother and Sheryl Crow is your girlfriend.’
Big brother flashed a genuine smile, after which Dave (aka Jack) said: “We have ghost-like qualities.”
“Yeah, well I’ve had some recently,” a trim and ready Phil (Andy) replied, laughing.
“”Our names may be Alvin, but we are not on the A-list. So we just got the record,” said Dave, not having rehearsed any of the five Mellencamp tunes he and Phil are on. “So we’ll pretend this next song is from the ‘Ghost Brothers…’ CD.”
They then lit into “One Bad Stud,” by 1950s crossover songwriters Jerry Lieber & Mike Stoller — and featured in the 1984 film, “Streets of Fire.”