I went down to the Southgate House on Saturday night to see Alejandro Escovedo in concert. It was the sixth or seventh time I’ve seen him perform there. You might think it would get tiresome or repetitive seeing the same performer at the same venue so many times. You would be wrong, of course. Each concert has been a new and exciting experience. He keeps things interesting by changing up the members of his band, throwing covers and new songs into the setlist, and almost dying of Hepatitis-C a couple years back.
I first heard Alejandro Escovedo about nine years ago when I found a used copy of his The End/Losing Your Touch EP at Half Price Books for $1. I bought it for the cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes”, but kept it for the Escovedo originals. I liked it so much that I tracked down all of his solo albums and made sure I saw him the next time he came to town. Since then, it’s been an annual tradition for me to catch his Southgate House shows. They’re always among the highlights of my concert-going year; Saturday’s show was no exception.
This was a brief tour and Mr. Escovedo only brought a two-member band with him. It was Susan Voelz on violin (as always) and David Pulkingham on guitar. For just a violin and two acoustic guitars, they still managed to make a lot of noise. Sometimes the music sounded almost classical; other times it was flat-out punk.
Alejandro Escovedo is one of America’s best songwriters, and Saturday’s show featured a lot of his self-penned classics like “I Was Drunk”, “Put You Down”, and “Rosalie”. He also treated the audience to the rarely played “Mountain of Mud” which features a chorus that he admitted stealing from his children (the best songwriters find inspiration everywhere). In addition to the old favorites, Alejandro Escovedo performed three brand new songs, two of which were co-written with Chuck Prophet. Mr. Prophet had opened the show, and he came back onstage to perform with the band during the encore set. I don’t usually care for new songs in concert, but all three of them were enjoyable.
No matter how great Alejandro Escovedo’s own songs are, the covers usually end up being among the highlights of his live shows. Saturday’s concert featured three covers: “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by the Stooges, “Amsterdam” by John Cale, and “I Wish I Was Your Mother” by Ian Hunter. “I Wish I Was Your Mother” was a particular highlight for me. It was on that first EP I bought, and it’s become one of my favorite songs. Mr. Escovedo and the band left the stage and performed the song in the middle of the audience. I’ve seen him perform it that way before, and it never fails to get me teary-eyed.
If you’re interested in learning more about Alejandro Escovedo or hearing some of his music, you should head over to his website. They’re always streaming something over there that’s worth hearing. If you really want to do yourself a favor, though, just head up to your local music store and buy whatever they have for sale under “Escovedo” (with the possible exception of By the Hand of the Father which can be a difficult listen). If they don’t have anything, then you need to find yourself a better store.