Written by Eddie Ferranti
Feb 13, 2009 at 08:00 PM
ImageMy sweetheart Rose & I kept up a tradition that has marked our nearly eighteen years together when we headed to the great city of Austin. I’ve celebrated my birthday there for all those years and this year was no different.

Oh, it was different as in outstanding, but most of my trips to A-Town are. To start off the 3 day weekend we had the utmost pleasure of catching one of our faves Alejandro Escovedo. To hear he was playing the super intimate confines of the Cactus Cafe fired us up (2 sold out gigs). We were not let down. As the announcer welcomed AE to the CC, he stated that a gentleman as powerful as himself was doing the Cactus a big favor by playing their place. Hell, outside there is a killer framed poster of Escovedo from 1993!

I think the dude is one of the most underrated musicians in the music biz today. Touring behind his latest album, “Real Animal”, Alejandro started the gig IN the crowd for the first 2 songs!  He would do tonight’s show with only himself and David Pulkingham. The 2 serenated the crowd and we were fortunate enough to have them do a song RIGHT behind us. After the tune I had the extreme rush of looking Alejandro in the eye as he shuffled by me heading to the stage and saying “Good work buddy” and he responded a sincere “Thank you” back. It may sound corny to y’all, but it made my night before it even started. This “Real Animal” IS Alejandro Escovedo.

I’d like to make this a review of sorts on the CD as well as the gig itself. Powerful tunes like “Sister Lost Soul” and “Chelse Hotel” smoked with Pulkingham displaying shit on his guitar that just ain’t right. Man looks like a mad scientist and he is one on his axe for sure. The true to life lyrics in “Chelse Hotel” of “it makes perfect sense/it makes no sense” hit home in the tale of Syd and Nancy. “People” was performed passionately and it IS a capsule comment on society with “We’re only gonna live so long, we still got time, BUT never quite as much as we think”. Amen brother………Alejandro is as humble as he is good.

ImageHe spoke proudly how his father had nurtured 8 out of 12 kids into music careers. His brother Javier was heavily praised for his work with the “True Believers” band which also featured Jon Dee Graham. Older classics like “Rosalee” and “I Got Drunk” were show stoppers at the ultra attentive Cactus Cafe. Gotta throw some love to this respectful music venue. Quiet works folks. Escovedo has his roots in the punk scene as it shows itself in an awesome manner on tunes like “Real As An Animal” , “Nuns Song” (his first band was titled that) and rockin’ “Chip N’ Tony”.  Dude has an old time rock “thing” of using “CUM OWN” and he does it masterfully. Every time he says it duck, because a rock jam is mashing in your face soon! Love it.

Speaking of classic influences, AE paid homage to another under the radar band “Mott the Hoople” at the Cactus. A gentleman in the crowd had come all the way from Holland to catch the show and requested a song by them. He spoke of Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson being legends who did not get their full due in rock history. Sound familiar? I personally was a huge Mott & Ian Hunter fan being from Cleveland. Ian penned the “Cleveland Rocks” tune that got more fame as an intro to Drew Carey’s comedy show than the musician himself.  In closing, don’t take my word for it on the quality of Escovedo’s live gigs or his latest CD.  Ask Bruce Springsteen who thought so highly of Alejandro that he invited him on stage at his latest Houston stop to perform. AE was so overwhelmed afterwards that he said he walked on air.

Act like you did not read this review at all and go purchase the man’s CD. If you are not impressed, you are not alive in my book. Alejandro respected Houston Music Review well enough to make us the only one’s approved for the gig. To say I was honored is an understatement. Supporting musicians like this cat make my “job” a pleasure in this day and age of ipods and MP3 players. I own neither and don’t know really how to use one, BUT I do know how to get off my ass and see a guy like this close out a gig with a burniing hot “Castenets” that left me leaving feeling beyond happy on my birthday…God Bless Alejandro and all music lovers out there…