Alejandro Escovedo already had a couple of outstanding solo albums stuffed under his belt before stopping by the Alligator Lounge in Santa Monica on Feb. 12, 1994 to play a few of those songs. I wrote a brief Escovedo family biography 3 days ago for Javier's glam/punk band the Sacred Hearts, so I'll try not to repeat myself while ranting about his brother. After his band with Javier, the True Believer's fell apart, Alejandro started performing solo gigs in Austin clubs & formed a punk country glam outfit for when he felt like rocking out called Buick MacKane with Glen Benavides & Joe Eddie Hines. A veritable 'who's who' of Austin musical royalty fell under Alejandro's spell & joined his expanding semi-acoustic ensemble to form the Alejandro Escovedo Orchestra. Members changed from night to night, but he'd collected a string section, horn players, several of the baddest guitar players in town, a bunch of percussionists & some wonderful back-up singers. I'm not gonna dwell on the negative, but when Alejandro's wife Bobbi died in the spring of '91, it hit like a ton of bricks & part of his way of processing the trauma was to write. There are songs on his '92 album "Gravity" that speak to that time & most of his '93 release "13 Years" hovers in that space. In interviews, that's all anybody wanted to ask him about for years & it must have been tortuous. The critics should have quit pestering him & listened to the songs. Those articulate, poignant tunes speak for themselves.
Alejandro brought his Orchestra to the Alligator Lounge & the powerful yet understated ensemble breathed life into a sombre, elegant set of unflinchingly honest testimonials. Each song built on the one's that had gone before, until your heart just crumbled to dust. "Five Hearts Breaking", "One More Time", "By Eleven", "Bury Me", "Baby's Got New Plans"... Ouch! It was one crusher after another & they were just getting started! "She Doesn't Live Here Anymore" led into a devastating "Gravity/Street Hassle" medley with the string section working things to a fever pitch that left the room gasping for air. Javier Escovedo rolled in late & let himself get coaxed into joining his brother onstage to sing an achingly beautiful duet of Mott the Hoople's "I Wish I Was Your Mother." As soon as the song was done, Javier disappeared back into the night. T.S. Bruton was dropping sumptuous lead guitar lines. Hector Munoz is a bull behind the kit who couldn't lose the beat if he tried, but was hanging way back in the pocket to give Mr. Escovedo all the room he needed. The traveling incarnation of the Orchestra included a sax & trumpet mini horn section, folks on cello, violin, viola, bass, accordion & conga drums. The dudes were nattily attired in black suits with narrow lapels & the ladies wore modest black cocktail dresses. In the Ray Bradbury book "The Illustrated Man" each of the hobo's tattoos represent a different story & I suspect each weathered crease or wrinkle in Alejandro's face had a hard earned lesson behind it too. He was in his early 40's, but it looked like it had been a long, hard road to the lounge. He's a handsome devil though & cool as rainwater. He's also utterly charming & tried to add a bit of levity with an occasional joke, but the songs weren't remotely funny & it kinda felt like attending the most beautiful wake one could imagine. purple bridesmaid dresses long