Alejandro Escovedo has a love for Cleveland that this writer deeply appreciates. He is one of a handful of artists that continue to make it a point to have this city on the tour itinerary every time he heads out onto the road. What makes Escovedo unique is that each tour is a little different from the last one, from The Sensitive Boys or Peter Buck as a backing band to a string quartet or violinist. On Tuesday evening at Music Box Supper Club, it was a classic guitar pull show with legendary Texas guitar player/songwriter Joe Ely.
Both troubadours walked out with Ely leading off the show with “Wishing For A Rainbow” on his Taylor electric guitar. Always the storyteller, Escovedo reminisced about the time he first met Joe in 1980 and what life in Austin was like back then before singing “Five Hearts Bleeding.” From there it was Ely singing “All Just To Get To You,” “I’m Going To Strangle You Shorty,” and the beautiful Flatlanders number “Homeland Refugee.” In-between were Escovedo numbers “Rebel Kind,” “Beauty of Your Smile,” and a song about going back to a place that’s very uncomfortable with mixed memories titled “San Antonio Rain.” Ely and Escovedo played off each other by continuing a thread or story theme of growing up in Texas and spending time in California. Alejandro dedicated “Wave” to his father, who hopped on a train at age 12 traveling from Mexico to Texas. The crowd began getting involved as Ely broke into “Borderless Love,” and the line “In a borderless love there's no need for a wall” drew loud applause. A song rarely played, Escovedo was moved to sing “Ballad of the Sun and Moon” from the Thirteen Years record. Ely chose from his list of about 60 songs to channel Guy Clark with “Magdalene,” while Escovedo followed with a magnificent rendition of “Rosalie.” From there, the boys decided to turn up the heat with some rock and rolling as Ely sang “My Eyes Got Lucky” and Escovedo followed with “Castanets” to close out the set.
After going backstage, they returned escorting opener Austin Stambaugh to join them during the encore. Stambaugh received permission to pick up Escovedo’s acoustic guitar and the three traded verses on the old Woody Guthrie number “Goin’ Down The Road.” The young songwriter held his own as the two legends smiled while watching him play. It was truly an unforgettable moment to see the torch truly passed down to one of our local up and coming songwriters.
Before opening the show, Stambaugh had a chance to sit backstage and play guitar with Ely while hearing stories about his career. As the lights dimmed, Austin stepped out in his brand new $3.99 Volunteers of America thrift store black C&W embroidered sport coat. When asking Alejandro about wearing it on stage, the reply was “always wear the jacket." So with his blessing, Stambaugh opened the show with six songs highlighted by originals “Blood In My Mouth,” “Today Brings Change,” “God’s Green Earth,” the beautiful “What Makes A Man Feel Lonesome and Blue,” and the catchy “Can’t Sleep For Dreaming with a Woman Around.” The lone cover was a Guy Clark classic “Let Him Roll,” and the appreciative crowd, who was attentive and respectful throughout, got a little bonus tonight hearing him perform.