Alejandro Escovedo commands the stage with an air of impenetrable coolness, conjuring the spirits of dozens of musical traditions through his exquisite melodies and transcendent storytelling. It’s masterful stuff, delivered in his cask-aged tenor on wave after wave of bright guitar, and it has earned the esteem of folks such as Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams et al.
Escovedo, who was born in San Antonio, Texas, but now lives in Austin, comes from a family of 12 kids, eight of whom became professional musicians, but his musical aspirations were preceded by his fervor for baseball.
“Baseball came simply to me. I was always good at throwing a ball. I could hit anything with a rock,” he says.
His dad was quite the ballplayer himself, and the appreciation for the game he passed onto his son has blossomed into a self-described “hard-core” fandom for the San Francisco Giants, one that surfaces from time to time in his music (his 2008 album "Real Animal" features a song about Giants legend Juan Marichal).
Escovedo muses that there’s some sort of kindred identity found in baseball and rock ‘n’ roll that tends to attract many of the musicians he knows.
“There’s a similar attitude you take in baseball as a pitcher that you take in music as a singer or guitarist,” he says. “There’s that element of intense focus that I love so much. I know so many rock ‘n’ roll guys who love baseball. It just comes natural.”
A man who draws influence from so many musical territories, Escovedo is slow and discerning when asked to name the walk-up song he would use if given a day in the big leagues. After hesitating, he ultimately settles on “Shake Appeal” by The Stooges, an appropriately raucous tune to rattle a pitcher’s psyche.
Of course, Escovedo won’t be facing major league pitchers anytime soon, but he wants baseball to continue to be a part of his work and he says he would one day like to make a documentary on Mexican ballplayers.
That’ll have to wait, though, as he’s out on the road touring his new record, "Big Station," until November. In the meantime, he asks that we send a shoutout to Tim Lincecum for him.
Yo, Tim. Alejandro says hi.