Another show from Wednesday night
So I’m somewhat ashamed to say that I did not go to Local 506 and support Project DInah and the mega awesome double student band lineup of Lafcadio and Harmute, to those bands I apologize sincerely. I had a reason, however, as I was holding tickets to a show that I purchased almost a month ago. Tonight Calexico, one of the most innovative and unique sounds in alternative/indie rock played at the Cat’s Cradle, with opening band The Acorn (which I was too late to catch), and I have to say the show certainly lived up to my rather lofty expectations.
Calexico, based in Tuscon, AZ, formed 18 years ago when Joey Burns teamed up with John Convertino to forge their path in rock music by exploring the American Southwest, and drawing influences as diverse as Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western soundtracks, Afro-Peruvian music, jazz, country, surf rock, and Portugese Fado. Their sound would fit well in my opinion, as the theme to the Kill Bill series, but thats only a suggestion Quentin. Their lyrics are often dark and their tightly composed songs wind stories of desert betrayal and gypsy curses, pulling from all facets of the seedier side of the American experience.
Their tenth studio album, Carried to Dust, came out earlier this year on Chicago based Quarterstick/Touch and Go Records, and in my opinion is a prime example of their genius. The music is poetic, the words are at times ripe with hidden meanings, and the quality of the sound hasn’t diminished one bit. From the very first track, “Victor Jara’s Hands”, you can hear the incredible power of earlier albums The Black Light and Feast of Wire, partially because Convertino and Burns reuniting with their collaboraters from the latter on the new record. The song is a tribute to the Chilean poet/musician/political activist who was murdered in 1973 and contains some quintessential elements of Calexico’s style including swirling vocal rhythms and blasts of Mariachi style horns. The entire album is breathtaking in its scope and complexity, yet it remains a single entity, linked by a common musical identity throughout. A particular gem is Man Made Lake, you have to read the lyrics to that song when you listen to it the first time, trust me.
Their confidence together on stage was merely one of many indications that these veterans take their performances very seriously. Using instruments as diverse as the accordion, baritone guitar, mouth organ, harmonica, and french horn, Calexico demonstrated the scope of their musical ingenuity, as well as their roots in desert brass, country, and alt rock.
It was a beautiful night to be listening to some beautiful live music. I have to state one final thing before I sign off, I swear on the eyes of my children that I was standing next to Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam in the front row, and let me tell you, he knew every word of every song and the order of the setlist.