alejandro played across the river from d.c., at the birchmere last night, ¡& the state was there!
i won’t spend more than a line on the opening act, amy cook. perhaps with bass and drums she would’ve made a pleasant background.
but, i enjoyed my pork barbecue (a decent runner-up to austin and nashville), and oggled an original “guitar town” era steve earl and a solo andrian belew (¿who knew?) among the gallery of autographed posters by the bathrooms.
anyway, alejandro escovedo took the stage with two sidemen: guitarist david pulkingham and psychopath-violinist susan voelz, & opened with “always a friend” from real animal. the storyline with the new record casts alejandro as a glam punk aging and reminiscing (in the best possible sense: he dedicated “sister lost soul” to the punks he’s known and played with, many now missed–it may be my favorite song of the record:
and of the show).
anyway, the musicians brought amazing color to alejandro’s minimalist, country-folk-guitar-whatever (someone said “i never saw jimi hendrix, but now i’ve seen sarah voelz”), and even if the songs went a little sweet from time to time, the stories made me believe it (name-drops included: iggy pop, sid, nancy & the sex pistols, joe strummer, real animal co-writer chuck prophet, townes van zandt, mott the hoople, keith richards, etc., etc.).
this was one of the tightest groups of musicians i’ve seen; they projected hugely from the stage, and during the encore the three walked out into the dinner-theater space and played three songs “off-grid.”
i think what keeps me coming back to escovedo–though as i said the songs on record can get a little sweet, & the shows, evidently, can get a bit weird:
–is his drone. alejandro has the ability to mesh melody & musicianship w/ a direct, held-note and atonal vocal delivery (and occasional one-chord guitar passages) that melds his punk, country, folk, etc. roots into something new & direct. something worth hearing (& seeing whenever you can).
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