Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Open Border Rock

Calexico, with their desert twang and mariachi brass, revisit the Cradle Wednesday (11/12), just back from a European tour.

To get a really good preview, check out an entire live show on Fabchannel that the Tucson sextet played in October.

Opening for them are The Acorn, a similarly ambient, wallpaper-of-sound folk rock quintet out of Ottawa.

Doors open at 8:30, show at 9:15. Tickets are $15.

Back story: Read The Miles Davis of Mariachi, my interview with Calexico's Jacob Valenzuela in the Independent Weekly in 2003.

stage set

UPDATE, posted Friday AM:

Calexico has grown in confidence since I heard them last, probably a couple of years ago. Joey Burns has really stepped up to the mic, literally, I can make out much more of the lyrics to their songs now in live performance. This is a good thing.

It's been awhile since I was in a rock club, and conditioned as I am now to hardcore salsa, there were a few times I had to check my expectations. It's a different (pleasant) sensation to hear indie rock in a club, the way the sound hits you makes different parts of the body tingle. The sea of aromatic humanity struck me as polite and nonaggressive, in non-dancing appreciation. Instead of Corona, empty PBR cans and Jamaica stripe bottles littered the edge of the stage. With salsa, you get used to an incredibly high level of technical fire and virtuosity, particularly in the horns and percussion, so the muted atmospherics favored by Calexico as they juggle a rotating parade of instrumental extras--marimba, accordion, French horn, peddle steel, something like an electronic shawm, etc.--took a different listener's mindset. It's a certain enchantment they've honed to fine points over the years.


Trumpeter Jacob Valenzuela (pictured, left), whom I interviewed in '03, sang a nice original song in Spanish, "Inspiración." Just like his trumpet playing, he's got a wide vibrato and warm sound to his singing voice, and the more intensely punctuated Latin rhythms of this tune caused a noticeable crowd reaction. I chatted with him after the show, he said he's contemplating a Latin solo project. Sounds good; hope he keeps me informed.

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