by Brittany Rotondo
A story teller, an ageless rocker and a veteran not only to the world of rock n’ roll, but to World Café Live’s stage. This Wednesday night was packed with a stellar set list, acoustic armor and a crowd left hanging on the edge of their seats. Quite literally. The almost two hour show captured the songwriter’s infinite musical spectrum.
Coming from a family of twelve children, eight of whom became professional musicians, Escovedo first made his mark in the 70’s with punk rock pioneers The Nuns, then later with alternative country groups Rank and File and the True Believers. But Escovedo’s true voice took form with solo albums Gravity and Thirteen Years. Now twelve records later, you’ve crossed the equinox of a troubadour’s travels through life, loss and love.
With the calming cadence of Lou Reed and the swanky strut of Mick Jagger, Escovedo and backing band, The Sensitive Boys (comprised of guitarist Ricky Ray Jackson, drummer Chris Searles and longtime bassist Bobby Daniel) stormed through the first eight acoustic tunes with thoughtful eloquence. The ensemble constructed a world of aural vibration through songs like “Wave” about the journey to find a “father’s dreams” and “San Antonio Rain”, about the “hippie contingent” that still dwells in free spirited rebellion.
As if onlookers weren’t swooning already, Escovedo and band saddled offstage completely unplugged and leapt into “Down in the Bowery“ and “Swallows of San Juan“, with backing vocals provided by the almost two hundred in attendance. Heading back to main stage, Escovdeo and the fellas cranked out the voltage of a natural born rock show. Beginning with “Can’t Make Me Run”, one of the songsmith’s darker tunes from his latest album Big Station, they dove into crowd favorite “Castanets“. Escovedo’s punk rock potency shined through effortlessly as he charmed and challenged the crowd. “You learn to read the applause… You’re tired, aren’t you?” Not this spirited bunch. The audience only revved for more during the encore with Escovedo’s take on Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane”, which felt immensely appropriate.
The memoir of melodies Escovedo imprinted on Wednesday night left an entire venue, it’s owners, fans and followers intoxicated.
Hey, newspaper boy. You’ve delivered.