In the music world, landing on the cover of Rolling Stone has always meant you’ve arrived.
But hey, being the subject of a major feature in the New Yorker is pretty close if you’re serious about your music. The renowned literary magazine carried a six-page feature on Escovedo in October.
Alejandro Escovedo, who turns 68 in January, has been making music for 40 years. Born in Texas, raised in California, and always close to his father’s Mexican heritage, his name is probably etched on a dirty concrete wall in a New York alley way, or a wooden pillar in a San Francisco bar, or even more likely, on the table top of a seedy country bar in West Texas.
Look him up on YouTube and you’ll see him playing with Bruce Springsteen or David Hidalgo or Lucinda Williams. Scratch the surface on Spotify and you’ll find Por Vida, a tribute album with a handful of select artists playing Escovedo’s songs – like Steve Earle, Charlie Musselwhite, Ian Hunter, Charlie Sexton, Son Volt and The Jayhawks.
We had 5000 people chanting ‘F – – – Trump’. It was obvious what my position was.Alejandro Escovedo
In the northern summer of 2017 Escovedo was touring Europe with his music partner Don Antonio, an Italian, and their Italian band. Despite a long career, which began intensely in the punk music scene of New York in the late 1970s, Escovedo had never toured Europe. Now, here he was, with the voice of a hero and a blistering guitar (and a sensational band), morphing into a rock’n’roller with a slight bend towards alt country – always original, always with a hint of hispanic, touring Europe with a bundle of muscular, emotional songs about the journey of illegal immigrants into America.
“It was just as Trump was elected,” he offers in a telephone interview in late November. “We did 35 shows in 40 days in 10 countries. We turned some of the songs into anti-Turmp chants. We had 5000 people chanting ‘F – – – Trump’. It was obvious what my position was. And it obvious people had become disappointed in what America had become.”
Those songs, detailing the fictional journey of a young Mexican and young Italian coming to America, are on Escovedo’s new album, The Crossing. It’s his 14th album, but given the political times, generating more attention and critical acclaim than almost anything he has done before.
As a musician, Escovedo is as honest as the day he was born, always searching for truth, playing what comes to him.
“When I think, if I ever do think about my career in a commercial sense, i understand why we are here,” he says. “I never done the same thing over and over. Never really cared to cater that to that audience.”
He will make his first tour to Australia in 2019, playing at Lizotte’s in Newcastle while weaving his way to the the stage at the Port Fairy Folk Festival in Victoria.