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Dave Alvin guests on FX's 'Justified' on Feb. 23, debuts new song

February 17, 2011 | 12:50 pm

Dave Alvin 2011 Beth Herzhaft 
The FX channel’s crime-drama series “Justified,” which just launched its second season and is airing Wednesday nights, is set in the coal-mining country of southeastern Kentucky. That gives it something of a “Coal Miner’s Godfather” vibe with its storyline of a deputy U.S. marshal who patrols the back roads of Appalachia on the lookout for dope dealers, thieves and murderers.

The rural setting makes it an ideal forum for an Americana-heavy soundtrack, but even roots-music fans might shake their heads in disbelief during the Feb. 23 episode “Harlan County Line,” when none other than singer-songwriter Dave Alvin makes a guest appearance.

Not only does Alvin appear on-camera -- as a musician in an out-of-the-way roadhouse where star Timothy Olyphant, as Dep. Raylan Givens, is having a clandestine meeting -- but he also sings an original song he wrote for the episode.

When Givens is joined at the bar by a guest who asks what he’s doing, he responds, “I’m waiting for Dave Alvin to go on.” Sure enough, there’s Alvin tuning up and then launching into the song “Harlan County Line,” backed by guitarist Rick Shea and other members of his real-life band. But even miracles have to end sometime, and after a few seconds of the song, the action shifts away from the bar and the episode moves on.

It turns out that the show’s creators are longtime Alvin fans themselves, and decided during the second season to write him into the show. We’re told at Pop & Hiss that his song will surface in its entirety on a forthcoming “Justified” soundtrack album. It’s also scheduled to be on a new Alvin solo album that's due in June.

-- Randy Lewis  

Photo of Dave Alvin. Credit: Beth Herzhaft.