The Blasters' Keith Wyatt: "We Know How to Take Care of Business"

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Courtesy of Keith Wyatt
Blasters guitarist Keith Wyatt suffers from unusual form of identify theft.
Guitarist Keith Wyatt has been with Phil Alvin's Blasters, one of the most storied roots ensembles to emerge from the '80s, for almost two decades now. But even after 17 years, he's still frequently standing in the shadow of original Blasters guitarist Dave Alvin, who left the band in 1986 to pursue a solo career after penning such roots classics as "Marie, Marie," "American Music," and Dwight Yoakam's hit "Long White Cadillac."

Anytime the Blasters announce a gig on Facebook, one can usually expect several "is Dave playing this gig?" messages on either Phil or Dave's Facebook pages. Or both.

Wyatt just laughs about the ongoing drama.

"I got in the band in 1996, but it's still pretty common for people to come up after a gig and say, 'I saw you in 1982, man,' says Wyatt. "Whatever it is -- they don't know who Dave is, they don't know who I am, whatever -- I've just learned to smile and roll with it."

Wyatt notes that being in the Blasters is like having a guitar player's merit badge.

"After this long, I understand that I'm part of a line that runs from Dave through Hollywood Fats and James Inveld, so I'm very conscious of this tradition," he says. "It's an honor to be in that line of players."

So how has Wyatt managed to last 17 years in such a hallowed slot?

"I'm extremely patient," Wyatt laughs. "Actually, we're all way down the road in our careers, so we know how to take care of business, and we all have other things to keep us occupied when we aren't operating as the Blasters."

For his part, Wyatt is an instructor at the famed Musician's Institute in Los Angeles, which offers both associate and bachelor's degrees. While he has scaled back his activities at the Musician's Institute from the days when he was Vice President of Programs and the force behind a long string of instructional videos, he still teaches a basic guitar class weekly.

"I love teaching," says Wyatt. "It's just the most mind-blowing thing when we get these Korean kids or Chinese kids coming into the program. They've heard American music, but it's such a great thing to see someone from an entirely different cultural reference point learn how to actually participate in playing American music.

"It's inspiring that it means so much to them," he continues. "I'm constantly amazed."


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