Rocker Alejandro Escovedo draws from his family history to meditate on the smearing of the immigrant experience | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Rocker Alejandro Escovedo draws from his family history to meditate on the smearing of the immigrant experience 

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click to enlarge Alejandro Escovedo

Alejandro Escovedo

Nancy Rankin Escovedo

On the forthcoming The Crossing (due September 14 on Yep Roc), veteran Austin rocker Alejandro Escovedo refracts his life as a second-generation Mexican-American in a concept album about two immigrants from Mexico and Italy who meet while working in a Texas restaurant, focusing on the shared and disparate personal experiences that brought them to the same spot. Album single “Sonica USA” steps away from that narrative, instead reflecting on the sense of power Escovdeo felt in the 70s watching Mexican-American punk band the Zeros (which was cofounded and fronted by his brother, Javier), and the pride he takes now in offering his immigrant peers a model of what it can look like to follow your own path. Through shifting perspectives, the songs detail the grace and equanimity many newcomers to the States embrace while navigating the harrowing difficulty, loneliness, and peril they face—a much different narrative than the current right-wing fantasy that suggests they have it easier than American citizens. “Waiting for Me” is a heartbreaking meditation on being alone in a strange land and the pain of longing for a lover back home, while “Footsteps in the Shadows” conveys the crippling fear that comes with sneaking across the border and forever watching your back lest you get caught. Joe Ely sings on a few tracks on The Crossing and wrote “Silver City,” a bruising tale of leaving everything behind for a geographic panacea that promises a better life, only to be falsely accused of someone else’s crime once you’re there: “Now the moon cries through the bars, my love shines in the stars / I’m glad she is far from the Silver City.” Escovedo made the record in Italy with Roman instrumental band Don Antonio, who meld punk fury and poetic folk-rock in arrangements as rich, concise, and effective as any in the singer’s discography. For this concert Escovedo and Ely will share the stage, trading songs and stories.   v

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