I can really see why Alejandro Escovedo is having his day in the sun, finally getting some of the recognition he deserved a long time ago. He has an album that is selling and getting played on the radio, he’s signed on with Springsteen’s management company, and he’s even played the Letterman show. His moment has come because he writes good songs, he’s a solid play ahead live performer, and he appeals to the roots music crowd that is slowly getting bigger and bigger.
He is also becoming one of those Cleveland darlings, a semi-national act from another part of the country that has a loyal and growing audience here in Northern Ohio. When I first got to the Beachland last Monday to check out a bit of the opening band, the place was half empty. But by the time Escovedo took the stage the room had filled almost to capacity with the older, wiser crowd that supports bands like his — and Paul Thorn and Shelby Lynne and Raul Malo — when they hit town.
Last week’s show was better than last January’s show, and last January’s show was a good one. Although he is still touring in support of his Street Songs of Love release, his recent show delved more into his past and Escovedo seemed more at ease with the crowd. The highlights from the new album included “Down in the Bowery” and “Streetsongs.” The first one was introduced by a funny story about Escovedo and his 16-year-old punk rock son. Among past favorites, “Rosalie” and “Castanets” stood out, each again being introduced by some great storytelling.
Alejandro Escovedo has been all over the musical map during his career. From his Mexican-American childhood, to his days in the punk moment of the late 70s, to his singer-songwriting days and his band days with Rank and File… He brings all of those experiences to what he is doing now. He is a roots rocker in every sense of the word, and there are not too many who have more roots than he does.
The highlight of the show was a guitar instrumental that he shared with his guitarist David Pulkingham — “Fort Worth Blues,” that he dedicated to an old friend and collaborator Stephen Brudon who recently died of cancer. It was great stuff.
Hopefully Alejandro Escovedo will return again in nine or ten months and put on another great show. I think he’s to the point here in Northern Ohio that he will fill a venue like the Beachland almost anytime.
For more about him and his music visit http://www.AlejandroEscovedo.com. As always, the Beachland has a lot of good things coming up, including Chuck Prophet on Wed 10/20; the Carl Palmer Band on Sat 10/23; and Los Straightjackets on Sat 10/30. Go to http://www.BeachlandBallroom.com for information on these shows and more.
He has published two books of fiction, My Cleveland Story (1998) and Home and Away Games (2006), and the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Michael Heaton has called him “the Mark Twain of Cleveland.” Check out his website and blog at http://www.GregCielec.com.