When the editors of No Depression magazine—the bible of the alternative country movement—took it upon themselves to name just one artist as the genre’s “Artist of the 1990s,” they passed over such stalwarts as Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle and Neil Young and instead gave their cover over to a little known singer-songwriter from Mexico named Alejandro Escovedo. “Name another artist who has sustained such a long, varied, and enormously rewarding career,” No Depression wrote at the time. “He has challenged himself constantly as a musician, and through his music, as a human being.” Certainly, Escovedo has proven to be a die-hard, changing with the times and yet always staying true to himself: He started out as lead singer for San Francisco punk rockers The Nuns, later moved to Austin, Texas, and shined with roots outfit The True Believers and, finally, went solo. His 2001 breakthrough, “A Man Under The Influence” finally established Escovedo as an alt-country hero—but just two years later he was near death with Hepatitis C. Rallying with the support of musician friends who helped pay his overwhelming medical bills, Escovedo cleaned up after years of alcohol abuse, rid himself of Hep C and, last year, released another masterpiece, “The Boxing Mirror.” He plays World Cafe Live, backed by a string quartet, on Dec. 9. Tickets start at $20. For more information, go to www.worldcafelive.com or call 215-222-1400. — T.H.
Originally published on November 16, 2006