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Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men

It’s a curiousity that modern musicology cannot explain, but Los Angeles—the least authentic location anywhere—can proudly lay claim to at least three of the finest purveyors of top-notch Americana ever to scuff a stage with their dusty boots. And to tidily wrap that riddle in an enigma, it should be noted that Dave Alvin is all three of those acts—in a manner of speaking.

Alvin’s first band, the Blasters, whom he led with his brother Phil, hit L.A’s club circuit in the late ’70s with a rough-and-tumble combination of blues and punk rock that was as ferocious as it was steeped in tradition. The Alvin boys grew up fans of the likes of Marcus Johnson and T-Bone Walker, but they were also influenced by their contemporaries on the L.A. scene, paticularly by the band that Dave would later join, the likeminded X. And it was with X’s legendary leading duo, John Doe and Exene Cervenka, that Alvin would form the acoustic side project the Knitters. The Blasters, X, the Knitters: That’s a veritable 10-gallon hat trick.

Alvin’s solo work has been similarly strong (his King of California is justly regarded a classic of the form) and, though huge commercial success has thus far eluded him, Alvin hasn’t been completely overlooked. Dwight Yoakum scored a hit with his composition “Long White Cadillac,” and he won a Grammy award for his 2000 album Public Domain: Songs From the Wild Land. His newest release, Ashgrove, is being celebrated for its seamless incorporation of the rousing rootsiness of the Blasters with the plain-spoken contemplativeness of Alvin’s later, often quieter work.

Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men will play Revolution Hall (417-425 River St., Troy) on Wednesday (July 14). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $15. For more information, call 273-2337.

Heartbreak House

George Bernard Shaw’s comic drama Heartbreak House is arguably the great 20th-century play. With tongue somewhat in cheek, Shaw subtitled his masterwork A Fantasia in the Russian Manner on English Themes; in the manner of the Russian masters, the action is set on a country estate where the leisure class goes about its useless business. The difference is in setting and action, however: With the first world war as backdrop, the characters are as likely to die of German bombs as ennui. Anders Cato directs this production, opening Wednesday on the Berkshire Theatre Festival’s Main Stage.

Of course, Shaw finds plenty of humor in a civilization near collapse. Listening to the bombs falling around them, one of the proper English ladies admiringly observes, “It’s like Beethoven.”

The action is presided over by the elderly Captain Shotover, a wise old seafarer and inventor (and Shaw stand-in) who has failed in attaining what he calls the “seventh degree of concentration,” but has succeeded in alienating much of his family, usually because of lack of manners and a brutal wit. Over the course of a weekend, his daughters, their husbands, lovers and assorted scoundrels, both upper- and lower-class, match wits over everything from love to money to the desirability of their own annihilation. Some fun indeed.

BTF’s production of Heartbreak House opens Wednesday (July 14) at 8 PM at the Main Stage (6 E. Main St., Stockbridge, Mass.), and continues through July 24. Evening performances are Monday through Saturday at 8 PM, with Thursday matinees at 2 PM. Tickets are $62-$40. For more information, call (413) 298-5576.

All Rise

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is back in residence at Tanglewood, and will be joining up with conductor Kurt Masur and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for the Friday-evening Berkshire premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ All Rise.

All Rise is Marsalis’ 12-movement work that interpolates “blues, jazz, gospel and 20th-century classical music” in an epic musical portrait of African-American history and “human interconnectedness.” Of last fall’s Boston premiere, The Boston Globe praised the work’s “generosity and authenticity of feeling.” For this performance, the BSO and LCJO will be joined by the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and vocalists Laquita Mitchell (soprano), Cynthia Renée Hardy (mezzo-soprano), Brian Robinson (tenor) and Robert Honeysucker (bass). And, of course, Marsalis himself (pictured).

All Rise will be performed tomorrow (Friday, July 9) at the Koussevitzky Music Shed (Tanglewood, Lenox, Mass.) at 8:30 PM. Shed tickets are $92-$28, with lawn seats available for $17. For more information, call (413) 637-5165.


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