Alejandro Escovedo

Alejandro Escovedo
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"Musically, Alejandro Escovedo is in his own genre," notes David Fricke in Rolling Stone. High words of praise indeed, especially at a time when most popular music is boxed into styles and rife with references, influences and antecedents. Escovedo may possess a miles wide palette of music that he has absorbed and draws from, yet his own sound defies categorization and transcends boundaries. He is also a consummate storyteller who is held in the highest esteem by his peers, one of who describes him as a "poet of the ordinary event." Escovedo's music can range from full force rock'n'roll to the subtle delicacy heard from a string quartet, sometimes in the same song. Fricke describes him well as "a folk-blues classicist with a gritty, plaintive voice and an equal fondness for dirty boogie and spectral balladry." That approach has distinguished Escovedo as one of contemporary music's truly original and unique artists, earning him consistent critical hosannas. The breadth and depth of his creativity prompted No Depression magazine to name him its Artist of the Decade even before the close of the 1990s. His acclaimed solo career follows Escovedo's time in a series of influential bands: The Nuns, Rank and File and The True Believers. Since emerging on his own in the early 1990s, he has released eight albums marked by a stunning variety of music and eloquent lyrical expression, all of them praised by critics for their power, beauty and sophistication. The diversity of his live performances has been equally broad. Escovedo usually takes the stage within some permutation of a rock band and/or string ensemble, but he has also performed solo as well as with his 13-piece Alejandro Escovedo Orchestra, which has featured horns, cello, violin, accordion, percussion and pedal steel guitar. His songs have even inspired a theatrical collaboration: By the Hand of the Father, which has earned high praise on the stage across North America and as an album featuring songs and stories from the theatrework. Throughout it all, Escovedo has maintained an artistic integrity and dignity rare in these times as well as any other. One factor underlying the potency found within the music of Alejandro Escovedo is his multicultural heritage. He was born in San Antonio, Texas, the son of an immigrant father from Saltillo, Mexico who sired 12 children. Pedro Escovedo - whose life seeded By the Hand of the Father and is among the stories the work tells - sang in mariachi bands, boxed and hustled pool for extra cash, and labored everywhere from the fields as a youngster to a shipyard later in life. Three of his sons became noted musicians: Alejandro and his percussionist brothers Coke and Pete, whose many credits include the seminal Latin rock acts Santana and Malo. Growing up in California, Escovedo developed an early and abiding passion for rock'n'roll. In his own music, Alejandro has respectfully nodded in style and cover songs to such primal influences as The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, The Stooges and Mott The Hoople. When punk rock emerged during his college years in San Francisco, Escovedo started his first band, The Nuns, when he needed a group for a student film he was making. The band's influential run as founders of the Frisco punk scene includes opening the last show by The Sex Pistols. Alejandro followed with a stint as the lead guitarist for country-punk pioneers Rank and File, which landed him in Austin. He then started The True Believers, a star-crossed yet notable guitar-driven roots rock band that included his brother Javier and now acclaimed singer-songwriter Jon Dee Graham. When The True Believers broke up in 1987, Escovedo's musical style went through a transition, and he began producing more personal and introspective music in the singer-songwriter tradition that was still as powerful as his rock'n'roll past. With the 1992 release of Gravity, his first solo album, Escovedo was immediately noted as "a major artist," as the Detroit Metro then described him. To wit, following its release he was voted Musician of the Year in the annual Austin Music Awards. Escovedo's next album, Thirteen Years, was an unflinching examination of the emotions surrounding a marriage coming to an end. With These Hands found him recording with everything from a full string section that included his daughter Maya to a family percussion group that featured his brother Pete and niece Sheila E. More Miles Than Money: Live 1994-1996 captured his stunning live performance style, while Bourbonitis Blues mixed live and studio cuts of both original and cover songs to illuminate the origins of Escovedo's oeuvre. A Man Under The Influence followed with another collection of original material and featured guests like Ryan Adams and members of Whiskeytown, Superchunk and Squirrel Nut Zippers. Over these years Escovedo has also toured and recorded an album with Walter Salas-Humara (The Silos) and Michael Hall (Wild Seeds) as The Setters, and played and recorded an album (The Pawn Shop Years) with his hard rock side project, Buick MacKane. One theme running through a number of Escovedo's songs was the life and bicultural experience of his father, which he felt formed the spine of a larger work. Uniting with the esteemed Los Angeles theater company About Productions, Alejandro helped write and present By the Hand of the Father, a groundbreaking original theater production that reflects on the 20th Century journey of Mexican-American men who straddled a border and passed on a distinct cultural legacy to subsequent generations. It premiered in Los Angeles in June 2000 and has been performed at a variety of prestigious venues across North America, earning kudos as an "impassioned ode" and "moving homage" with "gorgeous music." In 2002, Escovedo released the CD By the Hand of the Father: Stories & Songs from the Original Theatrework, which featured such guests as singer Rosie Flores, Tejano star Ruben Ramos (of Los Super Seven fame) and Alejandro's brother Pete Escovedo. The album united older songs that inspired the theatrework with those newly written for it along with dramatic sequences, and earned such praise as "career masterwork" (Oakland Press) and "jubilant, rhythmic and suffused with joy" (The New Yorker). At the same time, Gravity and Thirteen Years were also re-released in enhanced and newly mastered versions that include bonus CDs of rare material. Aside from an artistically satisfying music career that for all the high praise has resulted in "more miles than money," to quote one of his songs, Escovedo's other passion is his family. He is devoted to seven children and acknowledges the irony of how his life has come to parallel that of his father, whose spiritual presence and inspiration are obviously a continuum in his son's creative works. Within the frequently indelicate balance of art, life and commerce, Escovedo has managed to maintain his integrity and survive, bolstered at the tougher junctures by the fact that what he creates truly means something to him as well as others. "After all the touring I've done, I've found that there is an audience out there, however large or small, that wants to hear my songs," he says. "And I am willing to go out there and play them."
Date Venue City State Note
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10/21/2010 - Revered Rocker Escovedo Surfaces for B-N Show - Read More
07/15/2010 - Alejandro Escovedo a must-see artist - Read More
05/06/2010 - Alejandro Escovedo Examines Love on New Album - Read More
04/08/2010 - Acclaimed rocker Escovedo heads to Narrows - Read More
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11/04/2004 - Alejandro Escovedo Q&A - Read More
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Average Rating : 4.7              Total Reviews: 28

Alejandro Escovedo  06/29/2010            
Not so much. Liked him better with Rank & File.
Alejandro Escovedo  03/27/2010            
Donna Meness
I saw Alejandro Escovedo when he was on Blood/Peigan territory in Edmonton Canada..I'll tell you this story...print if want... Anyway 21 yrs. ago as grade 9 girls my friend & I connected..& next yr her family moved out west & the yr. following that I was pregnant, so our lives diverted... but we promised each other when we're forty we'll hang out together.. So I raised my girl( she's 27 now) & got a "job working for the people" out of college & just rocked along, being useful! She was married off & divorced( the bum wouldn't work & pawned her rings..but I digress lol She works outside the city for industry so she makes better than average pay & she knows the live music scene like the back of her hand, rocking out! Ages 40 yrs. rolls around & she uses travel points & cash to get me outta here for a month..had the folk festival volunteer pass all organized. Did we have FUN, FUN, FUN (till her daddy took the t-bird away)!! What a great weekend of live music, friends(new & old), and just a good ol' rocking time!It was my first time to see him. He sang a riff on Ziggy Pop " I Wanna Be Your Dog" & his music -wicked he had to crowd on it's feet! I loved it. Man we danced.. Last summer, this is what she wrote On July 27th the Alejandro Escovedo concert...what a great night that turned out to be! We convinced the band to come out to Rose Bowl Pizza for drinks and some great pizza...they did! We had our very own private & intimate concert! Alejandro sang 4 songs, with his guitarist as backup...then the guitarist did a few songs of his own. We were able to accommodate Alejandro on the green side, so we had a group of us chatting and smoking! What a great night of live music, friends(new & old), and just a good ol' rocking time! It was Kristie's first time to see him too. She loved it.
Alejandro Escovedo  03/21/2010            
One of the best musicians in the world. Enough said. I personally enjoy his shows more in a laid back, acoustic setting, such as Cactus Cafe. But he can also rock the house at Continental Club in Austin.
Alejandro Escovedo  12/01/2009            
This cd is one of the best out there to date hard rockin and full of soul
Alejandro Escovedo  11/19/2008            
Karl Harris
WTF the previous review was for somebody entirely different, REK, but hey the situation forced me to listen about and I'm happy about it! Just disregard the REK statement. Thanks.
Alejandro Escovedo  11/19/2008            
Karl Harris
The man is the spring board. The music in the board. U like it dive in here's what the water feels like. I "think" they got it, but hey I'm drunk and feeling a touch nostalgic so it wouldn't be a big suprise to find out I was wrong!
Alejandro Escovedo  06/24/2008            
Americana Artist of the Decade. Well deserved!
Alejandro Escovedo  04/21/2008            
oz yanez
Say saw you at the Fine Line in Minneapolis......Mexican dude thick sound dude!talked to you about being from Austin ,this year I was blessed with a liver transplant,Take care,maybe some time when your back in Minneapolis we can get together and jam a bit..Oz [email protected]
Alejandro Escovedo  04/17/2008            
JP Steveson
Dude, saw him on Tuesday at the Continental. He so made a lifelong fan. Great punk sound, awesome ballads, and that guitarist... Holy crap he was awesome. Great, great stuff. I'll be there next week at the Continental for the show again, without a doubt. Peace.
Alejandro Escovedo  01/04/2008            
wonderful ballads, very sophisticaded, something for quieter hours, perfect voice, superb musicians, deep feelings in his voice, highly recommended
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