For Phil Alvin, music has always been a live event.
His band, The Blasters, has been around for close to 35 years and has made a career of playing frenetic live shows.
In that time, it has released only nine studio albums, and only when Alvin felt the need. The band's latest, "Fun on Saturday Night," was released in July. It was the band's first album since 2005.
"It's the state of affairs now," Alvin says in a phone interview in advance of the band's show Saturday night at Fulton 55. "We needed something to sell when we were on the road."
The band is coming off a rough year. In June, Alvin was hospitalized in Spain and the band had to cancel its European tour. The album was finished and released, but it wasn't what Alvin envisioned. But he says he is in good health now and the band is working on new material that soon will be recorded and released.
And it's back playing shows.
The Fresno stop is just a quick trip for the Blasters, which includes John Bazz on bass, Bill Bateman on drums and Keith Wyatt on guitar. Phil's brother (and founding member) Dave Alvin joins the band occasionally.
"But that is at his leisure and choice," Alvin says.
The band will play two shows (including one tonight in Bakersfield) on the way to a benefit show in San Francisco on Sunday.
"We'll be there," Alvin says. "We'll perform our best and hope everyone will have a good time."
Started in Downey in 1979, The Blasters pulled from a range of influences and quickly became known for its furious blend of blues, rockabilly, punk rock and mountain music.
It was a hybrid genre that earned the band a wide audience and tours with everyone from western swing revivalists Asleep at the Wheel to Los Lobos and Dwight Yokum. At one point, The Blasters even opened for Queen.
The first couple shows were rough.
In the early '80s, the band was part of the Los Angeles punk scene that included the likes of X and Black Flag. Alvin remembers playing a New Year's Eve show in 1982 with Black Flag, Fear and Agent Orange.
They took bets on who would get spit on the most.
Shockingly, "It wasn't me," he says.
While the band wasn't playing "punk" music as such, what it was playing had a raw energy and presentation that the audience could understand and appreciate.
Not wanting to be confined to any genre labeling, Alvin started calling what The Blasters played American music, a term he says describes the whole range of American rock genres: rockabilly, rhythm and blues, even old-school rock 'n' roll.
"But that is mostly blues music, anyway. There is a core inside them that is the same," Alvin says.
The Blasters with Electric Grease and Motel Drive, Saturday, Fulton 55. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets: $15. fulton55.com