Alejandro Escovedo is perfectly content to fly a bit under the radar.
Certainly the alt-country-punk-Americana artist out of Austin -- who is a pioneer, if not a forefather, of the whole alt-country format -- has enough critical and popular success to burst into the major leagues. But it's just not of interest to him, certainly not at this point in his life.
"You just do your good work and people care," he told biographer Lenny Kaye. "I always believed, when I was a kid, that if you just worked hard, you would find fulfillment. I think I got a lot of that from my father and my brothers. A working musician is all I ever wanted to be. Hard work, to stay true to what you want to do, and then eventually someone would notice for that very reason."
|» Where: The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW|
|» When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday|
|» Info: $27.50 in advance, $29.50 day of show; 202-787-1000; thehamiltondc.com/live|
And making music was almost a birthright for Escovedo. His childhood home was filled with music ranging from Latin jazz to Elvis Presley to the Beach Boys and beyond. Little wonder he was inspired to mix and match formats as he created his own sound.
That sound has influenced a generation of songwriters and musicians. Indeed, Escovedo is so respected that when he faced a near fatal bout with Hepatitis C many of his kindred musical spirits released a double tribute CD to raise funds for his treatments. The Americana royalty that contributed to the album included Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Los Lonely Boys, Ian Hunter and Escovedo's own relatives -- including Sheila E. and Pete Escovedo, Santana's former percussionist.
"Things are very different from me now," Escovedo told The Washington Examiner soon after the release of his last album, "Street Songs of Love." "I saw what I needed to focus on in my life."
For Escovedo, that included paying homage to creative wellsprings including the city of Austin. But he's almost spent a great amount of time looking at the struggles of individuals in this economy. Escovedo isn't interested in making overt political statements with the songs, although he knows others may.
"I never feel like they belong to me anyway," he said. "I am very connected to these songs -- I love making them, I love the community [that inspired] them -- but they aren't mine. They only work their way through me."