Jazz Fest 2014 Highlight: Alejandro Escovedo

I have to say, one of the most pleasant musical discoveries of Jazz Fest 2014 for me has been Alejandro Escovedo.

It’s difficult to use the word “discovery” in relation to a musician who has been around for as long as Escovedo has, but that’s really the best way to describe it.

Alejandro Escovedo, Jazz Fest 2014, by Stephen Maloney, OffBeat Magazine

Photo by: Stephen Maloney

I usually don’t hang around the Fais Do-Do stage that much during Jazz Fest, but a friend recently recommended Escovedo on my Facebook wall, so I thought I’d give him a shot.

The label “singer-songwriter” usually calls to mind someone like Andrew Duhon or his doppelganger Llewyn Davis, and since I had seen that Duhon had recently opened for Escovedo, I was prepared for acoustic guitars. Maybe a beat up old resonator.

That is not what I found. I found straight ahead rock. And lots of it.

Alejandro Escovedo, Jazz Fest 2014, by Stephen Maloney, OffBeat Magazine

Photo by: Stephen Maloney

By some quirk of Jazz Fest planning, the Samsung Galaxy stage was silent in preparation for Alabama Shakes (another excellent set), so the songs of Escovedo and his band the Sensitive Boys rolled out across the Fairgrounds unobstructed.

Throughout the set, Escovedo featured songs with lyrics that were in turn funny, heartbreaking, and sharply observant. At one point, he crouched over a microphone and implored to the crowd “don’t give up on love.”

Alejandro Escovedo, Jazz Fest 2014, by Stephen Maloney, OffBeat Magazine

Photo by: Stephen Maloney

Before another song, Escovedo helpfully informed us that he was not, in fact, fellow Jazz Fest 2014 performer Rodriguez, “no matter how much one guy insisted that I am.”

The crowd hung on his every word, and I know I wasn’t the only one drawn in by the electrifying set on the usually mild Fais Do-Do stage.

When I interviewed Andrew Duhon for his French Quarter Fest set, he spoke of wanting to “pick people out with sound.”

That’s exactly what Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys did at Jazz Fest 2014. They had the entire crowd – which I never saw stop expanding – singing along, dancing, clapping, and having a great time.

Alejandro Escovedo, Jazz Fest 2014, by Stephen Maloney, OffBeat Magazine

Photo by: Stephen Maloney

A great discovery indeed.

What has been your favorite musical discover this year? Let us know in the comment section.

  • KinersKorner

    Aljandro, Hooray For the Riff Raff and Better Then Ezra all outperformed my expectations. Riff Raff I was not familiar with but caught the show and loved it.