Joe Ely and Alejandro Escovedo perform at City Winery in DC on Aug. 21, 2018. (Photo by Chester Simpson)
I had a personal reason for attending and photographing the show of Alejandro Escovedo and Joe Ely recently at the City Winery in Washington, DC, I knew them in the ole days of the ’70s.
Alejandro, was in The Nuns, a San Francisco punk band in 1977, performing at the SF punk rock club the Mabuhay Gardens.
Joe Ely, who sounds like a Texas version of honky-tonkin’ Hank Williams, was performing with the Clash at the 1979 Tribal Stomp concert at Monterey County Fairground, Monterey, California.
Having watched and followed their most fascinating trailblazing musical career paths over the years, it was a unique experience to enjoy these two Texan song-writing legends get together for a night of music and legendary stories at the City Winery. It was sort like sitting in someone’s large living room and being entertained in a perfect setting with dueling performances and colorful tales.
It wasn’t lost on Alejandro that the duo were performing at City Winery on the birthday of their late friend, Clash frontman Joe Strummer. “Punk rock isn’t something you grow out of. Punk rock is an attitude, and the essence of that attitude is ‘give us some truth’. Don’t forget you’re alive. Everyone has got to realize you can’t hold onto the past if you want any future,” Alejandro said by way of a “Happy birthday, Joe.”
The first new solo album from Escovedo, The Crossing will be released Sept. 14, and features additional guest appearances by the Stooges’ James Williamson, Joe Ely, and more.
With some 26 albums under his belt, legendary songwriter and roots rocker Joe Ely brings it all back around with the release of The Lubbock Tapes; Full Circle on Rack ‘Em Records released on Aug. 17.
Recorded in 1974 and in 1978, the sessions represent two critical periods in Joe’s storied career and illustrates not only the evolution of the famed Joe Ely Band but also why he has long been considered one of the most important artists hailing from Texas.
This dueling performance was a nice change of pace. Alejandro opened the show with “San Antonio Rain,” followed by “Homeland Refugee” by Joe. They closed the show with a Woody Guthrie cover, “Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad,” and returned for an encore of “Always a Friend” by Alejandro and “Cool Rockin’ Loretta” by Joe.
Here are some pictures of Alejandro Escovedo and Joe Ely performing at City Winery on Aug. 21, 2018. All photos copyright and courtesy of Chester Simpson. Catch Joe Ely performing with Joe Strummer and Alejandro Escovedo with The Nuns at the end!