WOUB Music Blog

More Miles Than Money: A Fan's Look Back At Alejandro Escovedo

By
Joan Butcher

Dateline
Updated Wed, Feb 19, 2014 10:47 am

When I received the e-mail from Stuart’s Opera House announcing that Alejandro Escovedo and Peter Buck will perform on Feb. 23, I became overwhelmed with excitement.

My first call was to Stuart’s ticket office to purchase tickets. The next call was to my friends in Dayton to invite them to the show. 

Alejandro is quite a performer and has a long history in the music industry. Unfortunately, his name is not always well recognized, but his influence on musicians and songwriters is immeasurable. 

The Escovedo family is very talented. Al’s older brothers (Coke and Pete) were percussionists with Santana and his niece is Sheila E, who regularly performed with Prince.

Despite the musical lineage, Alejandro did not play guitar until he was 24 and didn't write his first song until he was 31. 

My introduction to this talented singer-songwriter began in the late 1970s. My then-boyfriend, Ed Pittman was in the Dayton punk band Toxic Reasons, which toured with Alejandro’s band, The Nuns, one of the first punk/new wave acts in San Francisco.

Eddie shared hilarious stories of that tour. Both bands were broke and driving beat-up old vans. Ah, the good ol’ punk days. 

Alejandro later moved to New York City and became a member of the cowpunk band, Rank & File. They performed in Dayton on several occasions between fall 1981 and winter 1982, and it was during these rousing shows that I had the pleasure of seeing Alejandro perform.

During each show, tables were pushed to the side and the dance floor was packed. Friendships were crystallized.

Like most musicians, Alejandro’s career path took a change in direction. In 1983, his path led to Austin, Texas, where he and his brother, Javier, formed the True Believers.

Shortly after their 1986 self-titled release, the True Believers played Canal Street Tavern in Dayton. By then, Alejandro had a strong following in southwest Ohio. Needless to say, a good time was had by all that evening.

Unfortunately, EMI dropped them from the label in 1987 and the band broke up. By then, Austin had become Alejandro’s permanent home.

In the summer of 1990, Eddie and I made the trek to visit family and friends living in Austin. I will never forget sitting in a bar and talking with Alejandro about artists who influenced us. I happened to mention that Mott the Hoople was significant in my high school years.  Al mentioned that he was a big Mott the Hoople fan as well. We laughed and then shared more stories about other musical influences. Then it was time for the show with his band, Buick MacKane, at the Continental Club.

As life would have it, there have been many twists and turns in Alejandro’s life and career. His incessant touring and the hard-partying lifestyle of a musician led to personal sadness and major health issues. 

Since 1992, Al’s solo albums have both lamented and celebrated his life, loves, career and perspective on life.

Recently, Alejandro spearheaded a remarkable endeavor, The United Sounds of Austin, a musical tour of Austin’s cultural evolution that rocked The Moody Theater on Jan. 11.

Also on his January calendar was a road trip to New York City to perform with Joe Ely. Recently, it was announced that Alejandro Escovedo & The Sensitive Boys are scheduled to perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival this spring.

Peter Buck (shown above), formerly of alternative rock legends R.E.M., is not only opening Sunday's show--he and his band will be backing up Alejandro during his set.

Throughout his 31 years with R.E.M., as well as during his subsequent solo career, Buck has been a member of numerous side projects, including The Hindu Love Gods, The Minus 5, The Baseball Project, Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 and Tired Pony.

Additionally, Buck has had a notable career as a record producer, working with such bands as Uncle Tupelo, Dreams So Real, The Fleshtones and The Feelies, and as a session musician for groups like The Replacements, Billy Bragg and Eels.

Billed as "One Night, Two Legends," the upcoming show with Alejandro and Peter Buck will be a night to remember. Although you may not be as excited as I am about the performance, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed. Hope to see you there!

WOUB’s Mark Hellenberg recently interviewed Alejandro Escovedo. Take a few moments and enjoy this conversation with an influential troubadour.

Mark Hellenberg talks with Alejandro Escovedo
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