Alejandro Escovedo - New album ‘Burn Something Beautiful’ out January 20th
You cant find many people with as rich a musical history and future as Alejandro Escovedo. A legend but also an artist with a constantly evolving future with the rare talent that keeps improving with each passing release. A man who has 12 solo albums behind him as well as many others with his previous bands dating back to the early 1980s. From the punk rock of the Nuns, to the country punk of Rank and File and then the roots of The True Believers. Alejandro has always been at the forefront. His newest album sees him recording in Portland, Or with Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey (REM, Minus 5) with producing which will be out towards the end of this year
The son of Mexican immigrants to Texas, Escovedo is from a musical family including brothers Coke Escovedo , Pete Escovedo (Santana and solo), Mario (The Dragons), Javier (The Zeros) and his niece Sheila E (Prince) Alejandro was born in San Antonio and then his family moved out to the LA area where as a kid in high school got to catch such greats as The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Buffalo Springfield, and The Seeds.
In his early 20s Escovedo moved to San Francisco and began performing in the first-wave punk rock group The Nuns whom supported the Sex Pistols on their last ever show In 1978 at the Winterland. The band performed in NYC which saw Alejandro leaving the band and living at the Chelsea Hotel (at the same time as fellow residents Sid and Nanc) He joined Judy Nylon’s band during this period before his friend Chip Kinman of The Dils (fellow SF punk band) convinced him to form the first country/punk band Rank and File with brother Tony Kinman, The band moved to Austin and n 1981 toured the US and recorded the seminal ‘Sundown’ album on Slash Records. A band that you could say started off the whole – Alt-country movement.
This pairing wasn’t to last long and Alejandro left and again formed a new band, The True Believers in 1982, this time with his brother Javier, Jon Dee Graham. Keith Carnes and Denny DeGorio. The True Believers released one album in 1985 on Rounder, toured the US performing with the likes of Los Lobos (where decor records first met Alejandro) and Green on Red. After getting signed to an EMI they recorded their follow up in 1987 but during the EMI Manhatten Records merger they were dropped which saw the record only coming out years later after they split u the band recorded their follow up .
Years of playing solo shows in the Austin Alejandro finally released his first solo albums, Gravity and Thirteen Years in 1992 and 1994 with producer/musician Stephen Bruton. While starting his solo career he also formed short lived Setters band with Walter Silas Humara (The Silos) and Michael Hall (Wild Seeds) in 1993 before diving full time into his solo career with his Rounder/Ryko disc album – With These Hands in 1996.
In 1997, Alejandro collaborated with Whiskeytown and Ryan Adams during the recording sessions for their album Stranger Almanac where he sang on three songs. Adams and members of Superchunck and also backed him for his
In 1998 No Depression magazine named him “Artist of the Decade” Alejandro was also involved in a side project that represents his hard rocking tastes. Buick MacKane released an album in 1997 The Pawn Shop Years, hearkening back to his musical roots from the 1970s.
Alejandro moved label again with the two Blooshot releases Bourbonitis Blues and A Man Under the Influence produced by Chris Stamey (dBs/Alex Chilton) coming out in 1999/2001.
In 2000 Alejandro provided music for the musical ‘By The Hand of the Father’ telling the journey of a Mexican-American father. Alejandro also took part off and on in the musical which featured on Austin City Limits and spawned the original soundtrack.
In 2003, after having lived with hepatitis-C for many years, Escovedo collapsed onstage in Arizona as a result of the disease. In his long road to recovery, he faced increasing medical bills. Without medical insurance, Escovedo could not pay his substantial medical bills. Friends and admirers around the country organized benefit shows to help the songwriter. This effort grew into the album Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo, a two-disc set whose proceeds benefit the Alejandro Escovedo Medical and Living Expense Fund. Contributing musicians included Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, John Cale. Ian Hunter, Jennifer Warnes, The Jayhawks, Son Volt and Cowboy Junkies. After medical treatment Alejandro was able to rejoin the touring musical and now he totally free of hep – C after new treatments.
Also in 2005, Escovedo’s song “Castanets” appeared on the iPod play list of America’s dumbest president George W Bush. Upon learning of this news, Escovedo announced that he would not play the song again as long it was on Bush’s iPod or until he was out of office. After two “Castanets”-free years, as Bush was winding down his term, Escovedo lifted the ban and began performing the song again.
John Cale produced 2006′s Boxing Mirror which he had promoted with The Alejandro Escovedo String Quintet. including a date at Carnegie Hall and two sold out London dates at St James Church. Alejandro was given and AMA award this year for “Lifetime Achievement For Performance” this year too
Escovedo released, Real Animal, produced by Tony Visconti, in 2008 on EMI Manhatten (ironically the label that had dropped his old band in 1987). All of the songs were co-written and record with old friend Chuck Prophet . At this time he was also managed by Jon Landau and made appearances with Bruce Springsteen whom dueted and covered one of the songs from the album with him at shows.
In 2010, Escovedo released Street Songs of Love, again produced by Visconti and co-written with Prophet but released on a new label Concord/Fantasy (a label his brother Pete originally had solo albums released on), featuring songs that were originally presented during “Sessions On South Congress” at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas with his band, The Sensitive Boys. The album features duets with both Bruce Springsteen and Ian Hunter.
Big Station the third and final album produced by Visconti and co-written with Chuck Prophet was released in 2012.
In 2014, Alejandro Escovedo appeared in the movie and soundtrack of the Veronica Mars movie singing an acoustic version of ‘ We Used to be Friends’. Also that year, he co-produced and co-hosted the official SXSW tribute show to Lou Reed one of Alejandro’s biggest influences, an an artist whom he has done tribute shows for since as well as Leonard Cohen.
This year saw Alejandro recording his new album in Portland Oregon and record his new album ‘Burn Something Beautiful’ with the cream of Portland’s musicians including Peter Buck on guitar and producing, Scott McCaughey and a host of others. Out Jan 20th in Europe.