I’ve told this story a hundred times and to be honest I’m not positive it really happened. But I think it did. I’m pretty sure. Yeah, yeah, it did, I’m saying it did. When I tell it, I always say it was about the most rock-and-roll thing I’ve ever seen someone do on stage at a concert. Because it was just so damn low-key cool.
It was at the great old NYC club Tramps, on West 21st Street, and I was seeing the fierce and fantastic L.A. rockabilly/roots band, The Blasters. They hit the stage led, of course, by their co-leaders, brothers Phil and Dave Alvin, and without introduction ripped into their opening few numbers. Phil, on lead vocals, set his face in a near constant toothy grimace, a look captured in excruciating close-up as the cover art on their 1981 debut album. Dave, on lead guitar, strutted around the stage in a vintage leather jacket, and went into a wide-legged stance taking his ferocious lead breaks. After maybe 4-5 songs, they took a brief pause, and as Phil said a few words to the audience, Dave set his guitar down and removed his leather jacket only to reveal – and this is the story I’m sticking to – a leather T-shirt! I’ve never seen one of those before or since. Now that is some cool work, my friends, serious rock-and-roll cool.