the Year, Song Writer of the Year, Album of
the Year, and the True Believers were inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame. What
was it like for that community to recognize
your work like that?
I’ve never been a competitive person, so the
recognition sometimes seems a little funny
to me, because there are so many great
musicians in town and they all deserve it.
Everybody works really hard. At the same
time, it also means a lot because those
awards are from this town and there are so
many great musicians here. To have that
record, especially, recognized like that… it
felt like an accomplishment, you know? I felt
really strong about it. I was happy to see it
recognized like that.
off that intimacy. When you’re faced with
20,000 or 30,000 people—that’s a completely
different atmosphere. Who do you focus on?
How do you play to that large of an audience? Every gesture has to be made larger,
and yet at the same time, you want to stick to
what it is you do that brought you there. So,
it’s an odd thing. But I tell ya, I really enjoy
it a lot. Plus, Dave Matthews is great. Bruce
Springsteen is great. We played a show with
Bruce in Milwaukee for 75,000 people…
the stage, so you focus on the front third of it
and that projects to everyone because of the
sound and the video and all that kind of stuff. I
kind of got used to it, eventually.
What’s it like now looking back on low
points of your career?
[Laughs] It’s insane! But you know, he has this
pit kind of area so people are right up against
Well, I’ve had a lot of high points, man. Real
Animal was and continues to be a real high
point—it was the kind of the record I’ve always
wanted to make. I’ve been able to work with
Tony [Visconti] and John [Cale, who produced
his 2006 album, The Boxing Mirror]. I played
on stage with Bruce. I saw Iggy Pop dancing at
one of my gigs. [laughs]
Let’s talk about Real Animal. What was it like
working with Chuck Prophet?
It started out with Chuck and I. We were touring solo artists, and I had [lead guitarist] David
Pulkingham and Susan Voelz with me. We
were touring the Midwest, and I was telling
them I had this idea to do a record that was
based on this story of my musical life, and so
we talked a little bit about it and I started to
write songs for a new record. I wasn’t nailing
it. I mean, they were good songs, but they
weren’t really locking into the story I was wanting to tell, so I called Chuck up. The first song
we wrote was the last song on the album, it’s
called “Slow Down,” and I felt that in that
song alone we had set the bar high. We nearly
immersed ourselves in the story. That was
important, so Chuck became just a perfect
And Tony Visconti?
He’s worked on my favorite records, and he’s
made some amazing records. Collaborating
was tremendous—he’s adventurous. I really
had to step up because the expectations were
high, you know? I think he really allowed us
to see something in ourselves that we hadn’t
seen before—the possibilities and stuff as
musicians and as songwriters and performers.
It was cool; he’s an amazing guy.
You’re playing some big stages these days:
Bonnaroo, Jazz Fest, shed shows with Dave
Matthews, big gigs with Bruce Springsteen
and the E Street Band… what’s that like?
It’s like starting over again. We can really fill
up a club. We know how to do that and feed
Escovedo closes an eight-act bill at Austin’s Continental Club during the last night of South by Southwest, a gig that has
become an annual tradition. His Collings CJ has a Sitka spruce top and East Indian rosewood back and sides. Similar to a
dreadnought but with sloped shoulders, the CJ’s tone has a very articulate bottom end.