Alejandro Escovedo Live at Mc Cabe's

If Alejandro Escovedo ("AE") makes it near your 'hood, don't miss this concert - a unique & amazing show.

A little AE history:

He was a founding member of the early NoCal punk band The Nuns which had a cult following and moved to NYC where they became part of the same circle as The Sex Pistols and Iggy Pop. (He offers some details of their years together in the Chelsea neighborhood in NYC on his recent solo cd "Real Animal")

He moved to Texas to start the early Alt Country/Cow Punk bands Rank & File and, later, True Believers.

Somewhere in there he led the very noisy rock band Buick McCane.

His solo records blend all of the above with a strange sound based on electric guitar, acoustic guitar,steel guitar, cello (?!) and bass/drums. Think Los Lobos meets mid-period Lou Reed meets X meets Townes Van Zandt and you'll be on something like the right track.

Last night's show featured two (Chuck Prophet later joined onstage to make it 3) acoustic guitars and Cello - no rhythm section, no electric guitar. The songs were split between old solo numbers and recent tunes from Real Animal (that titular animal being Iggy Pop). The cellist varied between mournful scraping acompaniment and wild lead solos. I can pretty much guarantee that no one makes 2 acoustic guitars and a cello rock like this guy! Just flat out amazing.

He is also a much better singer than you'd ever guess from listening to his CDs. His voice is much "rounder" and more resonant. He's not Caruso, but he can sing this type of material very, very effectively. This is one case where live sound was really rewarding.

AE is also a great "raconteur" and filled the between song breaks with hilarious tales of his life in show biz - he has 11 siblings who are mostly all professional musicians (older brother Pete is a well known jazz bandleader and younger brother Javier was the head of the cult San Diego punk band The Zeros). I'd love to be a fly on the wall at that family re-union.

In sum, AE really puts on a great show. It's variously rocking, mournful, nostalgic, beautiful and funny. For an encore the entire band walked out into the audience and did a great sing along version of "All The Young Dudes" with a wonderful acoustic guitar reproduction of the original (IIRC) Mick Ronson solo.

If you can see this one, it is very highly recommended.

Real Animal is a very good album. Its only weakness is congested & compressed production, even on vinyl. Amazing how stripped down unplugged sets like the one you saw at McCabe's can bring out the best in very electric bands(e.g. Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam(Benaroya Hall 2003). As you point out, AE is eclectic-- perhaps too broad for his own good commercially speaking. He's a bit like Ry Cooder in this regard-- who like AE is handicapped as well by a somewhat characterless voice.

I've never been to McCabe's, but there must be mojo there, as evidenced by Freedy Johnston's excellent acoustic set Live at McCabe's Guitar Shop.
Marakanetz & Dgarretson,

AE played last night (Sunday) at Mc Cabes in Santa Monica -I don't know if he's touring.

McCabe's is a very good sounding venue. Capacity is <150 on folding chairs. Not necessarily the most comfortable place, but the audiences tend to be doting and the performers, I suppose, dig that. AE's particular blend of influences is definitely quirky and - I'm sure you're right - not gigantically commercial. He is an original, though.


PS IMHO, His best lyrics rank up there with anyone's.
I saw him electric with his band in Ft. Lauderdale at the beginning of this year and the show was phenomenal. I hadn't seen him in about 10 years. He is one of my favorites and if this were the 60's or 70's, he'd be playing arenas.
Real Animal is a terrific record and is a history of himself in rock'n'roll.
His album "A Man Under the Influence" is a classic.
Actually, I think Pete Escovedo is his uncle and plays norteno. His two brothers toured with Santana. Also, his cousin is Sheila E (Guess what the "E" stands for!).
Check out this video of him with Springsteen doing the first cut from Real Animal:
Also, you can listen to his concerts free here:
I enjoy his use of cellos and violins with electric guitars on "The Boxing Mirror." He also has an excellent 2 cd set of his string quintet called "Room of Songs." This is more laid back, but occasionally his songs are structured with a more edgy feel reflecting his punk roots. Alejandro is one of the most original creative rock and roll artists touring today.

I always thought Pete was his dad. Last night AE told the story of the day - long ago - that he showed up for the first day of recording a new record at a studio "somewhere in the San Fernando Valley" (as he put it). When the engineer saw AE's name, he asked:

"Do you know Pete Escovedo?".

AE responded "He's my older brother"

The engineer replied "Well, he's recording his new record upstairs, right now".

So, I guess Pete's his brother. I am most familiar with Pete through the Latin Jazz Sextet - but he may well be better known for Mexican music (incl. Norteno). I know that he has also played with Santana and Shiela E.

My personal favorite from AE is BY FAR "With These Hands". I really like a lot of his records, but IMHO that is one for the ages.

Sorry, Martykl, you're right, Pete is his half-brother.
Saw him in Chicago last Fall, one of the best shows I've seen in a while. If anyone gets the chance to see him, don't miss it.
I went to see AE (at a friends insistence) at a little university club in Austin many years ago. He was very good, had his string section there but the opening solo act was an unknown guy named Jeff Buckley. AE was the favorite son in Austin (and I thought he was really good) but I was floored at the raw talent of Jeff Buckley.
Samcclark, I agree about Jeff Buckley. Saw him many years ago when The Stephen Talkhouse had a small club on South Beach (now, it's only on Long Island). I had never heard of him, but was completely blown away. The most amazing show of anyone I had never heard of before.
AE has progressed tremendously. You should listen and see him again.
Big fan here. Did not know about his early 'punk' days...