Calexico | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Bassist Joey Burns and percussionist John Convertino have served as the flexible rhythm section for a variety of acts--Giant Sand, Friends of Dean Martinez, Richard Buckner, Bill Janovitz, and Barbara Manning among them--but recently they've opted to thrust their uncanny empathy to the fore. As Calexico, Burns and Convertino look well beyond the roles and instrumentation expected of them, playing bass, cello, guitar, mandolin, drums, vibes, and accordion. Naturally they can't play all these things simultaneously, and so there are a few guest musicians on their debut album, Spoke (Hausmusik), but as some of their more spartan tracks show, they can make a lot with little. Despite Convertino's explosive power, Calexico's music is rather subdued--Burns sings in a low-key warble--a miraculously cogent blend of twang, noir, and what seems to be improvisation. It's hard to predict how they'll sound live, this being their Chicago debut, but then part of what sets Calexico apart is the ability to wing it. Thursday, February 6, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Nick Luca.

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