Alejandro Escovedo & Peter Buck

  1. Alejandro Escovedo & Peter Buck
    Event on 2014-02-28 20:00:00
    There are songwriters who sing their songs, and then there are songs who sing their writers.

    Alejandro Escovedo is one with his muse and his music. Over a lifetime spent traversing the bridge between words and melody, he has ranged over an emotional depth that embraces all forms of genre and presentation, a resolute voice that weathers the emotional terrain of our lives, its celebrations and despairs, landmines and blindsides and upheavals and beckoning distractions, in search for ultimate release and the healing truth of honesty. Sometimes it takes the form of barely contained rage, the rock of punk amid kneeled feedback; sometimes it caresses and soothes, a whispery harmony riding the air of a nightclub room, removed from amplification, within the audience.

    His rise has been gradual, a steady incline rather than a quick ascendance, but it has deepened and burnished his music, made it closer to the bone, where it begins to break, deepening his insight and his ability to find that insight in performance. His tireless touring, and dogged determination to place one album after another, has taken him through many musical scenes, remaining the same persona within each, of an artist who doesnt settle for the easy way out.

    You just do your good work, and people care, Alejandro says over the phone beginning a promotional tour for his latest work, Street Songs of Love, his tenth solo album. I always believed, when I was a kid, that if you just worked hard, you would find fulfillment. I think I got a lot of that from my father, and my brothers. A working musician is all I ever wanted to be. Hard work, to stay true to what you want to do, and then eventually someone would notice for that very reason.

    It is a journey that has taken him from Texas to California to New York and back again to Texas, encompassing a breadth of music as varied as the many bands he was part of before embarking on a solo career. In the 1970s, he surfaced on San Franciscos no-holds-barred punk scene centered around the Mabuhay Gardens in North Beach, a guitarist in the Nuns; Rank & File helped unite the disparate worlds of punk and country in the 1980s; and after he moved back to Austin, the True Believers combined all manner of Americana music in a harbinger of what was to come in Alejandros solo career which begun in 1992 with the album Gravity.

    I had a good record collection, he says when asked about his many roots and branches. Born in San Antonio in 1951, I grew up in a family of twelve kids. My brothers were jazzers, into Latin jazz and percussion music, Cuban and Puerto Rican. Both my mother and father loved Mexican trio music, vocal groups like Los Panchos, and Tres Aces, who sang beautiful romantic ballads in three part harmony. And then I had a cousin who lived with us in the fifties, who was slightly older than me, a teenager who turned me on to Elvis, and Chuck Berry and the Big Bopper. In 1957 we moved from Texas, where Id heard the beginnings of rock, and country music, and the blues a little bit, because it was around, and we went to California. It was there I got exposed to the wealth of surf music, and Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown, Thee Midnighters, the 103rd St. Watts Rhythm Band. My cousins would sneak us into dances when we were young, and wed watch the dancers. I got caught up in that, and the Anglophile thing, all those garage bands who listened to the English groups and turned it into something new.

    You cant be parochial about music, he continued. I learned that if you immerse yourself in something, listening to records over and over, so it becomes a language, you could learn to speak it. When I began to come of age, and was able to play the music, it became like a religion to me. We were fortunate that radio at that time had no boundaries. It was all brand new. No one knew you couldnt play Marvin Gaye, and then Captain Beefheart, and then Sun Ra. It was all great, and to me, it all made sense.

    It was Alejandros exposure to the freewheeling anything-goes ethos of punk that set him in motion on his musical path. The beautiful thing about punk rock to me was that it was all mix-and-match, at least until it started defining itself, he said. We would have shows where a reggae star like Max Romeo would play with a rockabilly guy like Ray Campi, and then be followed by the in-your-face blast of Crime.

    But it was in Austin, where he returned in the mid-1980s, that Alejandro found a musical geography that matched his own eclectic sense of musical possibility. It was this place that was completely open. The community really supported the musicians. It was small enough that you knew everybody there. You could see Townes Van Zandt walking around, or go to some beer garden and hear Billy Joe Shaver, or catch the Vaughan brothers playing every night at some place. Everybody appreciated each different type of genre of music. The punks respected Townes and the Vaughans, and the Vaughans respected everybody else. Musicians sometimes isolate themselves in their respective scenes. So to be in this small town where everybody encouraged each other, there were great shows all the time, it was cheap to live there, the beer was great, the girls were pretty, the weather warm, there was a great swimming hole It was just like paradise to me. Austin is an oasis in Texas, where all these kids from small farming and ranch towns and West Texas and the Panhandle, and down in the Valley, and East Texas, they all come to Austin because its freedom.

    As the nineties began, Alejandro took this sense of independence and began to chart his artistic growth through a series of solo albums that expanded his renown and heart-on-sleeve sensibility. His first producer was Stephen Bruton, the acclaimed guitarist who unfortunately passed into the great beyond in May 2009. They made three albums together from 1992 through 1996 Gravity, Thirteen Years, and With These Hands. He next worked with Chris Stamey I found someone who listened to all the same records, and loved the same things about rock and roll that I did and the albums that resulted Bourbonitis Blues (1999), and A Man Under The Influence (2001) are assured and complex confessionals of love, desire, and consequence.

    It was while showcasing his ambitious theatrical song cycle exploring the Mexican-American experience, By The Hand of the Father, in 2003 that Alejandro was felled by a dangerous bout with Hepatitis C, which took him off the road and into recovery. During that time, a double-CD tribute album, Por Vida, rallied his friends and family around him. Participants included Escovedos like Pete, Javier and Sheila E., and appreciators like John Cale, Los Lonely Boys, Calexico, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Howe Gelb, Ian Hunter and the Jayhawks, all covering songs from Alejandros considerable catalogue. Thankfully, by 2004, Alejandro was on the way to making a full recovery and return to performing and recording.

    The Boxing Mirror, produced by John Cale in 2006, was the cathartic album he recorded after his illness. I had to make that record; there is no other record I couldve made at that time. It was uncomfortable to play, and even now, we dont perform a lot of the songs off that record.

    Perhaps that led to 2008s Real Animal, a conceptual songwriting collaboration with Chuck Prophet that tried to tell the story of the bands I was in, how I got inspired by these bands, writers, films, books, and went on to play, and then the adventures of being in a band. Chuck added his perspective, which was a lot of times more humorous than mine. I often can get hung up on the heavier, deeper stuff, sometimes without meaning to, he smiles, and he brought humor and light to the story.

    The album also united him with producer Tony Visconti, and that began a relationship that was very important for me creatively, he said. Its one of those working relationships that Id always heard about, and dreamt about, where he was family right away. He loved the band, he hung out with us, and hes a real gentle, kind man, very warm and supportive. He gets everybody up and excited, and I think he brings things out in us that we didnt even know existed. You dont think about the records that hes made, from Bowie or T. Rex, and the people he worked with. He just makes you feel that youre not trying to live up to something that youre not. Youre so comfortable around this person, and so inspired, that he just becomes you, and that loosens everybody up.

    This shared encouragement can be heard throughout every track of Street Songs of Love, recorded in a short twelve days in early 2010 at Saint Claire studios in Lexington, Kentucky, the second time that Alejandro has been there with Visconti. And, as each record before, Alejandro had an intuition about how he wanted to frame the album. Though he often shows up at gigs with a string section in tow, or has expanded his orchestra to a dozen pieces or more, I knew I just wanted the two guitars, bass and drums format, that the strings would have to wait a while. In order to create and build some texture, I brought in voices, but other than that, the album is stark and streamlined.

    A large part of the credit for the collaborative feel of Street Songs must go to the Sensitive Boys, Alejandros core band. I love my band, he says. Without them, Id feel very alone. Hector Munoz has been his drummer for twenty three years, while David Pulkingham has played guitar with Escovedo for the past seven years (he also played all the keyboards on the album). And while bassist Bobby Daniel is a relative newcomer over the past year, it feels like the right combination, a fact attested to by the speed of recording the album. We had fourteen songs tracked in the first four days; we were just ripping through them, totally in the zone.

    I began not wanting to talk about myself, just to write songs, cool pop rock songs. To that end, he devised an intriguing way in which to compose and arrange the album, which was to book a two month Tuesday night residency in Austins Continental Club, where Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys could build the album in front of a live crowd.

    We would bring in three new songs every Tuesday night, he says of his modus operandi, and we would play them acoustically first for the audience, and then Id bring in the rhythm section, and slowly but surely we would add each piece, like the singers. I had wanted to bring in horns, but it never made it to that point. But still, the audience could watch the songs develop.

    It was interesting to see it grow and blossom. It started with the room half full, but it built until the last one sold out. Every week it became more intense with the album taking shape in front of us organically, a work in progress. Its as if it knew where it wanted to go, so that by the end of those two months we had watched songs begin with a verse and a chorus and become what we felt were complete compositions. And then we took that on the road for two and a half weeks, leading us from Austin to playing our first gig in Little Rock, and then working our way to Louisville, Kentucky, and then the following day we went to Lexington and started making the record.

    By then we werent thinking about the songs. They were a part of us already.

    Thus became Street Songs of Love.

    In Alejandros words:

    ANCHOR: was the first song I wrote for this record. I had hoped to make a record that wasnt autobiographical, but because of what was happening to me in my life personally, it became about love, and how love can be all the different colorings and changes in life: tragic love, romantic love, light love, pissed off love and angry love. I was trying to find some hope in the image of an anchor, which is not only something that weighs you down, but also prevents you from floating away.

    SILVER CLOUD: I just made that one up in rehearsal and it came out, the ever-sensual attraction of a silver cloud with a black lace lining. All the great blues guys who like to boast about their manliness, in that one I just went for it: Im a hungry man.

    THIS BED IS GETTING CROWDED: Is about all the ghosts you encounter along the way of a relationship.

    STREET SONGS: It started as trying to describe what was going around on that block where the Continental Club is, and then when I was traveling I met someone and that person became part of the song. Its a little movie.

    DOWN IN THE BOWERY: Chuck and I wrote it together, and as soon as we wrote it, we knew it was about Paris, my son, and we started to refine it with him in mind. Hes seventeen, angry, young and pissed off, very quiet, loves punk rock, noise, and graffiti. Its me trying to pass the torch on, encouraging him to be his own guy.

    TENDER HEART: is Chuck and I again. We get into this thing where we start talking about songs, and in Tender Heart we were digging the form more than the content. We just started riffing on words I got a dream, do you want to be in my dream? and it just took off from there. I thought of it as a Raymond Carver short story in a rock song.

    AFTER THE METEOR SHOWERS: How beautiful someone is. How you can just be taken in, overwhelmed by that beauty, taken to a place where meteor showers happen, stars, and wind, and all the elements. Ive had several songs that you dont know exactly what theyre about, but you write them, and they take on meaning after you meet someone, or go through something. That happened with that song.

    TULA: is about Larry Brown, the writer from Oxford, Mississippi, who became a very good friend of mine. I even toured with him, playing guitar as he read. Hes a great writer, really Southern, a guy who didnt start putting his thoughts on paper until late in life. Hed gone to Vietnam, come back to Oxford, became a firefighter, and then decided he wanted to write. He won the Faulkner Award, and I loved him. A long lost brother and he passed away a few years ago, so this is my salute to him.

    UNDESIRED: is a song about two people who are lucky to have found each other because nobody else wants them.

    FALL APART WITH YOU: In a way, this kind of fits with Undesired, and reminds me of the Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick characters in Days of Wine and Roses. Its kind of tragic.

    SHELLING RAIN: is a Kim Christoff poem I put to music. I loved the imagery, and it reminded me of a sixties song, something from Spooky Tooth, or early Procol Harum.

    FAITH: is a simple expression of what you gotta have, especially if you want to keep on keepin on.

    FORT WORTH BLUE: Thats the one I wrote for Stephen Bruton. He was from Fort Worth, and its a very peculiar town. Dallas is the big banking center, but Fort Worth is where the stockyards are. Its kind of a wild west place, and the music that comes out of there is full of crazy cats Delbert McClinton, T Bone Burnett, the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. Theres a way of playing in Ft. Worth thats really different, a weird guitar style where theyre a complete rhythm section just on six strings. Stephen had this beautiful way of playing like that, and he meant so much to me. He was so important in my life. I think of him all the time. more >>> It was winter 1990, and Peter Buck would have been off R.E.M.s massive world tour for Green by only a matter of weeks. Hed already put the tour buses and fancy hotels behind him, however, and hopped back in the van to tour small clubs with his pal Kevn Kinney. I was interviewing Kinney (the Drivin N Cryin lead singer) for the college paper, post-sound check in the back of the Paradise in Boston, when Buck just wandered over and joined us, dropping a bottle of something expensive and brown on the table for everyone. Bottle service, courtesy of the most influential guitarist of his era.

    Thats a moment a 19-year-old R.E.M. freak isnt likely to forget. But the scene also encapsulated Buck, who didnt need to be doing any of it. After a year playing stadiums worldwide, nothing other than a love of music compelled him to drive city to city with Kinney, playing 500-capacity clubs. He sure didnt need to join the interview or bring us all drinks. But thats Peter Buck music lover, culture obsessive, loyal friend, gracious conversationalist, generous host. Hes the guy always ready to lend his fame to a good band, whether by playing or producing the album, or by going on the road and he might, very quietly, also be writing the check that pays for it all.

    Almost 25 years later, thats still the case. Buck has always stood at the ready to produce an album or get in the van with friends. He made four albums in August! His list of credits is an amazing one that covers some of the most vital rock artists of the last several decades: the Replacements, the Feelies, Uncle Tupelo, Robyn Hitchcock, Corin Tucker, the Decemberists, Billy Bragg, Suzanne Vega, Warren Zevon, not to mention his work with the Minus 5, the Baseball Project, Tuatara, Grant-Lee Phillips, John Wesley Harding and so many more including his latest project, Tired Pony, Bucks second album collaborating with Snow Patrols Gary Lightbody.

    Buck was the member of R.E.M. who always wanted to do more, faster so maybe its no surprise that he has filled his time since the beloved Rock & Roll Hall of Famers disbanded in 2011 on project after project, while also curating the Todos Santos music festival, where all of these many acts often play together. Then theres his solo career fronting a blisteringly fun bluesy/rockabilly band, often backed by all-stars hes lent his name to in the past; a second vinyl-only album is close, and one song has already been revealed. more >>>

    at Georgia Theatre
    215 North Lumpkin StreetSupport This Blog By Visiting Commercial Link considering paddy power :
    paddy power

    Athens, United States

  2. Memphis May Fire
    Event on 2014-03-10 17:30:00
    with The Word Alive, A Skylit Drive, Hands Like Houses, Beartooth
    MEMPHIS MAY FIRE have consistently pushed the envelope to redefine both themselves and the various sub-genres they've made their mark within. 2009's "Sleepwalking" full-length yielded no exception as the band ventured into the territory of Post-Hardcore / Southern Rock with no reservations. Their fresh approach to an otherwise stale scene gathered critical acclaim and found "Ghost In The Mirror" f…eatured on the both the Saw VI Soundtrack and DVD/Blu-Ray releases. Subsequent touring with the likes of Asking Alexandria, From First To Last, and Alesana facilitated the delivery of their music to the masses and established a live precedent that the band continues to build on today.Following well-received releases on both Trustkill & Bullet Tooth, domestic/international touring success (featuring the band's first visit to Japan) and a tag as one of Revolver Magazine's "Top 25 Under 25," we're left with only one certainty; members Matt Mullins (vocals), Kellen McGregor (guitar), Ryan Bentley (guitar), Cory Elder (bass), and Jake Garland (drums) are headed somewhere fast.In fact, it's safe to say that MEMPHIS MAY FIRE are "Sleepwalking" no longer. Their latest effort, "Between The Lies," boasts an elevated aggression that tastefully combines elements of melodic metal, southern rock, and electronics amidst a platform of carefully crafted songwriting. Existing solely in the digital realm, this EP is clearly an indication of things to come in terms of its unique dynamics & cross-genre experimentation.Fast forward to 2011 and MEMPHIS MAY FIRE have now partnered with Rise Records as an outlet for their musical creativity. This move continues to broaden the band's reach and welcomes a new world of possibilities within the scope of their burgeoning career. MMF's high-octane live show acts as a testament to their ever-increasing identity and always leaves the audience wanting more. Expect their RISE debut to enter your lives later this spring alongside a massive touring cycle that is sure to reach your doorstep. Critics beware; MEMPHIS MAY FIRE are not only here to stay, they're paving the way.

    at The Opera House
    735 Queen Streeet East
    Toronto, Canada

  3. Skinny Puppy – BAAL
    Event on 2014-03-02 20:30:00

    Skinny Puppy

    There's not much difference between a playground bully, a corporate CEO and the self-absorbed figureheads of many of the world's current administrations. They'll all tell you that by surrendering your lunch money or tax dollars, they're working toward "your best interests." And we all realize these people are merely imposing a will of their own choosing. Nobody knows these constructs like Ogre and cEVIN Key, the braintrust behind Skinny Puppy, who, while entering their third decade working together, remain the world's most forward-thinking electronic/industrial-rock unit. Mythmaker, their 13th disc, is a harrowing song cycle framed in dark, intriguing atmospheres that explores the concept of control and the manipulation of culture that falsely enhances the lives of the duplicitous. It is to their creditand longevitythat Skinny Puppy have been able to simultaneously cast light on societal ills and expand the sonic notions of their music with considerable aplomb.

    at Wonder Ballroom
    128 NE Russel Street
    Portland, United States