Alejandro Escovedo has had a long and storied life in music, from his start with early San Francisco punk band The Nuns in the mid-70s, to his 23-year and counting solo career as a roots rocker. Backed by his current band The Sensitive Boys (in this incarnation, Billy Masters on guitar, Bobby Daniel on bass, and newcomer Shawn Peters on drums), Escovedo came to DC to rock The Hamilton and share some of his history.
It’s been three years since Escovedo has released an album (2012’s Big Station), and not touring in support of a new record allowed him to play a set that featured a few tracks each from a number of his releases. Interspersing the set with stories and anecdotes behind some of the songs – speaking about how things have changed over the years in his adopted home town of Austin, Texas before playing “Bottom of the World,” about his family abruptly moving from Texas to California when he was a child before playing “San Antonio Rain,” and about meeting Sid Vicious in San Francisco and again in New York before playing “Chelsea Hotel ’78” – served to give the set a more personal feel than many performances have.
Escovedo noted before “Down in the Bowery” that at one point several years ago he had asked his son what he thought of his music, and his son’s reply was that it was “old man’s music.” But songs like “Castanets” prove that even at 64 he can still rock out with a punk attitude that many younger musicians can only hope to attain. For the encore, Escovedo put away his guitar and strutted around the stage with microphone in hand for a stirring rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden,” throughout which he had the entire audience singing along.
The result of all of this was an intimate show with a powerful performer that surely left many in the audience wondering how Escovedo isn’t massively more popular. The next time he’s in town, go.
Local rockabilly band Jumpin’ Jupiter opened the show.
All photos by Matt Condon. Click to embiggen.