Legendary Mexican-American singer songwriter Alejandro Escovedo is performing in Australia for the first time in 2019. He’s a recipient of the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and will be honoured with the Townes Van Zandt Songwriter Award at the 2019 Austin Music Awards. He is the third recipient of that honour in the Awards’ 37-year history.
His songs have been recorded by the likes of Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams, Cowboy Junkies, and Calexico, and he has shared stages with everyone from Bruce Springsteen to John Prine to Mott The Hoople’s Ian Hunter. REM’s Peter Buck and the Velvet Underground’s John Cale have both served as Alejandro’s sidemen in addition to being his producers, a role also filled by legendary Bowie and T.Rex producer Tony Visconti, who produced a run of three albums for Alejandro spanning 2008-2012.
A troubadour-like figure with an ever-expanding clutch of classic and evocative songs, Alejandro’s past is nothing if not chequered. His trailblazing career began with The Nuns, San Francisco’s famed punk innovators who opened the Sex Pistols’ final show in 1978 and continued into Austin-based-based alt-country rock pioneers, Rank & File, whose Slash Records debut Sundown found a home in many Australian record collections in the early ‘80s. Austin’s blazing ‘80s guitar army True Believers set Alejandro up as a true local hero, and by the time he released his first solo album in 1992, he was a key player on the national scene.
Alejandro’s rise as a solo artist was adjacent to that of the alt-country-slash-Americana movement, and as the scene’s pioneer he was named Artist of the Decade in 1998. Alejandro’s latest album, The Crossing, released in September 2018 is one of the most acclaimed of his career. It looks at matters of immigration and the broken Promised Land that is America through the focused and unflinching poetry Alejandro is known for. American Songwriter has called the album “one of the most passionate, relevant, politically charged and personal projects he has released in a career pushing 40 years.”
The first visit by such a long established and indeed truly iconic artist is a rare thing these days, and these landmark shows by Alejandro Escovedo – at the Port Fairy Folk Festival are not to be missed by any fans of great songwriting and passionate performance.