Arts & Culture Maplewood

Exclusive Interview: Rent Party Opens 9th Season With Legendary L.A. Band The Blasters

Since its inception in 2009, the live music series Rent Party has been known for featuring a line-up of impressive bands. Founder Chris Dickson is ready to kick off their ninth season this Friday, September 22, leading off with the legendary Los Angeles-based band The Blasters.

“There’s just always been something very pure and very primal about what these guys do,” said Dickson. “I’m a huge roots rock ‘n’ roll fan and The Blasters really keep that tradition alive and vibrant.”

Founded in 1980 by brothers Phil and Dave Alvin in Downey, California, The Blasters would become an influential part of the Los Angeles punk/rock scenes in the 1980s, alongside bands such as X, Black Flag, The Screamers, and The Gun Club.

The Alvin brothers credit blues guitarist T-Bone Walker and blues singer “Big Joe” Turner (“Shake, Rattle and Roll”) as some of their earliest influences. The Blasters would fashion their eclectic mix of blues, country, rockabilly and punk rock edge into rousing live performances. Their first album – American Music — was released in 1980.

“When we started playing, there really wasn’t much punk rock involved,” said Blasters founder Phil Alvin, who spoke via phone with Village Green. “We played with a great deal of energy, and that seemed to work well with the punk scene. We ran into [the punk band] X and that was how it all sort of got cemented.”

The Blasters have toured with a diverse list of bands throughout their history, including the garage/punk band The Cramps, the country western group Asleep at the Wheel, and the iconic rock band Queen.

Alvin has a rather intellectual side, evidenced by his interest in mathematics. He earned his Masters Degree in Mathematics with a focus on set theory at California State University, Long Beach, where he also taught math. “Mathematics is about pattern or patterns and music is full of patterns,” says Alvin. “A lot of mathematicians are good musicians.”

The band is known for their tireless touring schedule. “Touring and playing for so many years together keeps you tight. We’re certainly that,” he said.

The current line-up for the band includes vocalist/guitarist Phil Alvin, bassist John Bazz, drummer Bill Bateman, and guitarist Keith Wyatt. Dave Alvin left the band in the late 1980s for a solo career, but occasionally performs with the band.

Expect a healthy mix of original Blasters songs as well as engaging covers. “I have to confess, I discovered The Blasters from a cover version of their classic ‘Marie, Marie’ by a guy named Shakin’ Stevens,” says Dickson. “Love, love, love that song! I’d be surprised if they didn’t play that one.”

Opening the show will be Li’l Mo & The Monicats. Guitarist Bill Kirchen recently said, “Li’l Mo is a rare triple-threat, a chanteuse who can rock and write songs that you swear you grew up with. This is the real deal, a captivating singer with soulful new material, and a voice that breathes new life into some choice classics.”

Doors will open at 7 PM and tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets.

About Rent Party

Started in 2009, Rent Party is a live music series in Maplewood – South Orange. The proceeds from these shows help fight hunger in the community. Rent Party supports three local food pantries (Oheb Shalom, St. Joseph’s, and Our Lady of Sorrows). They built and maintain a large community garden on the front lawn of the South Orange Elks that raises fresh produce for the pantries they support. Their BackPack Pals program provides a weekend’s worth of nutritious food each week during the school year to about 100 food-insecure kids in our schools. To learn more about Rent Party, visit their website at

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