Yesterday, SXSW proudly announced that Anheuser-Busch will sponsor this year’s music orgy — pretty gross. You hope to see something new and exciting, and of course you will. You will also stand in long lines and be refused entry. You will arrive on time to find the schedule revised. Bands from abroad will be denied visas. And, yes, you will drink some free Bud Lite Lime (really, you will). Why go? One excellent reason is Alejandro Escovedo. He is the real spirit of Austin, Texas, and he will never disappoint. He might be at Jo’s Coffee south of town, Lucy’s Fried Chicken a litte further south, or Maria’s Taco X-press even further south. He will smile that smile and tell a great story. He is magic.
Thanks to KC Turner, Alejandro is now doing local living room shows! He played last year in SF and it was super terrific. Rosie Flores made a surprise appearance, and each song brought with it a story of Alejandro’s fascinating rock history from The Nuns to the present. He lived at the infamous Chelsea Hotel next door to Sid & Nancy on the fateful night of who knows what happened.
This time Alejandro played Piedmont–maybe the first punk show in Piedmont. Accompanied by only one killer cello, he played “Chelsea Hotel ’78” and received a standing ovation. Born in San Antonio, Alejandro is not sure why he moved to Huntington Beach at age six. He spoke of his first days in Austin in 1980, his first show with Rank & File in Dayton, Ohio, and a bit about The Nuns opening for the Sex Pistols. He explained that 1,000 people are moving to Austin each day now, prices are rising and even after all his years there, even he had to move out. He spoke of his immigrant father and his 11 siblings, seven that became musicians. He told tales of The Nuns’ first shows playing for two people (The Dils) before launching into “Everybody Loves Me.”
A perfect version of “Down in the Bowery” emphasized his songwriting genius with the lines:
‘I hope you live long enough to forget half the stuff that they taught you.
And when it’s all said and done I hope you got your own set of rules to hang on to.
I’d buy you a smile in a minute but would you wear it?
If you had one moment to spare would you come down and share it?’
He wrote the song with local hero Chuck Prophet. They have made three records together thus far.
Megan Slankard did a surprise opening set that included a cover of Van Morrison’s masterpiece “Into the Mystic.” She plays with Peter Case on October 16th at the Great American Music Hall for #BoobProject, a fundraiser for breast cancer research, “because boob spelled backwards is boob.”