Alejandro Escovedo, Milton Mapes

Not to denigrate the artists' own distinctiveness, but imagine Ian Hunter and Neil Young sharing a bill or a battle of the bands between the Velvet Underground and Crazy Horse and you get an idea of how fine and vital this piquant pairing is. Suffice to say that the stunning music of Escovedo (profiled on page 65) becomes grander and more fiery and revelatory live ("must see" isn't an advisory but an insistence here). Mapes--a band that's single-minded enough to be named like a man--arose from Deep Ellum, shifted to Austin, traveled through the Nashville underground and then brought it all back home to Texas in search of and finding the incendiary flash point of tears that cooks sorrow into a flaming, crackling joy alongside their purgatorial meditations. As Escovedo now gets his just due after a near-death brush, Milton Mapes are primed to follow acts such as Calexico and My Morning Jacket into buzz-band-of-honor stature. Hence this is a Lone Star State of the art night indeed.

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