April 09, 2005

Alejandro Escovedo at the Tractor Tavern

We went to the Alejandro Escovedo show tonight at the Tractor in Ballard. Oh my gosh!

Jon Dee Graham opened. He came out in a suit and tie looking like a respectable businessman, and then proceeded to blow that image completely away as soon as he started to play.

Jon Dee Graham

Graham's voice is Tom Waits gravel with a quiet tenor authority. He played acoustic guitar and sang heart wrenching lyrics, joking between tunes that "every teaspoon of pain makes me stronger!" It was a short set with wild dynamic range from rocking raucous blues all the way down to whispering ballads barely audible over the chatter of people arriving for the headline act.

After maybe a ten minute break (long enough for us to talk the friend who brought us to the show into fighting through the crowd to the sales table to snag all four of Graham's albums (two for us, two for him)), Alejandro Escovedo and his band came out and played a two-hour set with a fifteen minute encore. Graham plays lead electric and lap steel guitar for Escovedo so we got to hear more of him. The rest of the band is visible in this picture.

Alejandro Escovedo and most of his band

Keyboard, cello, Alejandro on rhythm/lead guitar, percussion, violin (you can see her arm), and bass.

Their music is hard to categorize. It's rock and roll but with lush arrangements using the strings, keyboard, and Graham's guitar to build a landscape of sound as a setting for Escovedo's forthright singing voice to deliver potent lyrics. I can't think how to describe it further. It was an amazing night of live music to make you grin until your cheeks hurt.

They're playing again Saturday night. See them if you can.

Posted by jeffy at April 9, 2005 02:24 AM