Friday – Alejandro Escovedo and Joe Ely
Renowned songwriter, singer, true believer, Alejandro Escovedo released Burn Something Beautiful on October 28th, 2016 via Fantasy Records. The new album, Escovedo’s first solo endeavor since 2012’s highly acclaimed Big Station, is in actuality, a highly collaborative affair. Teaming with Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5) to co-write the album’s songs, Escovedo also enlisted the pair to act as the project’s producers.
Escovedo and company take some mighty big swings here. At once a celebration of the rock and roll life, a contemplation on mortality, and the healing power of love, Burn Something Beautiful connects repeatedly with Escovedo’s soulful heart and voice at its core. Recorded in April at Portland’s Type Foundry studio, the project coalesced with the help of an esteemed group of musicians who give the album a genuine band feel. They include guitarist Kurt Bloch (The Fastbacks), drummer John Moen (The Decemberists), vocalists Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney) and Kelly Hogan (Neko Case, The Flat Fie) as well as saxophonist Steve Berlin (Los Lobos).
In a trailblazing career that began with The Nuns, San Francisco’s famed punk innovators, to the Austin-based-based alt-country rock pioneers, Rank & File, to Texas bred darlings, True Believers, through countless all-star collaborations and tribute album appearances and finally a series of beloved solo albums beginning with 1992’s acclaimed Gravity, Escovedo has earned a surplus of distinctions: No Depression magazine’s Artist of the Decade Award in 1998 and the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Performing in 2006, just to name two.
“You just do your good work, and people care,” Alejandro says. “I always believed, when I was a kid, that if you 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, stay true to what you want to do, and then eventually someone would notice for that very reason.”
Panhandle Rambler is Joe Ely back home, returned to the always dusty, perpetually windy, generally arid, frequently smoldering, and seemingly barren landscape around Lubbock where he grew up and first began playing music. A place that has hosted generations of dry land farmers and wildcatters. It’s where Joe found his calling as a writer and performer. First located that unmistakable voice. Learned to carry himself upright and open, to move with determination.
In the rock’n’roll era, the vast spaces of west Texas have been filled with great music.Joe Ely stands in a tradition born out on these gritty plains. It includes Roy Orbison,Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker, Guy Clark, Delbert McClinton, Don Walser, Terry Allen, Lloyd Maines, his daughter Natalie Maines, and Joe’s enduring musical partners, Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore.
It is a land where you can see for miles and miles and miles. Only those who don’t know it find it barren. For it’s full of stories if you know where to seek them. And it has customs and amusements all its own. Even the forever dipping oil wells have their role.“In high school, we used to get somebody to buy us a six pack and go out there to the fields and ride the front part of those oil pumps all night long,” Joe remembers. Now, Ely lives in Austin and spends much of his life on the road. But when he’s accumulated enough song ideas, Lubbock is where Joe heads. “Somehow, just driving for hours down those country roads is still the best place for me to finish my songs.”