May 20th, 2009

Recent Calexico News

What’s been going on lately:

Calexico’s song “Black Heart” from album Feast of Wire (2003) has been used in the European trailer to the film Public Enemies, directed by Michael Mann and starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard. Interesting note that the film is about the life and times of John Dillinger who at one point was captured in Tucson Arizona on January 25, 1934 thru a connection to a fire at the Hotel Congress where some of his gang were staying.

Burns writes, “We met Michael Mann while working on the film Collateral (2004) and he, along with music supervisor Vicky Hiatt, had a good sense of our music and all the various moods and colors it evokes. I learned a lot from being on the set and watching Michael, the cast and crew work. We put in some serious hours just to get a single shot done right. I appreciate that sense of focus and paying attention to detail. He inspired everyone to dig deep and give their best. Public Enemies comes at a fitting time. Johnny Depp playing a Depression era Robin Hood who robs from the rich, gives to the poor.”

John, Joey, Jacob have recorded tracks with Spanish singer/songwriter Amparo Sanchez as well as Danish pedal steel player Margethe Bjorklund at Wavelab Studio in Tucson AZ. Here’s a link to listen:

Burns writes, “Amparo came to Tucson with a beautiful collection of songs after a breakup with her husband. She decided to end her project “Amparanoia” and record more minmal versions of her songs as Amparo Sanchez. She asked John Convertino and I to help back her up along with Spanish upright bass player Jordi Mestres and several guests, Jacob Valenzuela, Salvador Duran and Jairo Zavala. She has since then fallen in love and married a Cuban percussionist and has recorded several more songs in La Habana at the famous Egrem Studios including recording a duet with Omara Portuondo from the Buena Vista Social Club. I am sure this is going to be a great album. They plan on mixing in July and are currently looking for a label.”

Calexico have recorded and completely rewrote the music for a Chris Gaffney track for a tribute to the musician who passed away in 2008. A Man of Somebody’s Dreams: A Tribute to the Songs of Chris Gaffney (Yep Roc Records). Burns offers,”We met Chris Gaffney with Dave Alvin in Boulder, Colorado. We shared a lot of similar aesthetics and musical background not to mention friends from Tucson. That night at the Boulder Theatre we performed a version of Bob Dylan’s “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” with Dave and I trading verses and Chris playing button accordion. It was a special moment. Months later we heard the news of Chris coming down with liver cancer. John Convertino reached out to his family and the next thing we knew, he had passed away. It all seemed to happen quick. Mutual friend, Jeb Schoonover invited me over to his home in Tucson to listen to a bunch of Chris’ vinyl albums. I really liked the song “Artesia” which Dave Alvin covered and this tune called “Frank’s Tavern” about an old bar in South Tucson that Jeb and Chris frequented. I wanted to make the song our own musically and so wrote new music and melody with an arrangement that would fit our band. I really like the way this one turned out especially the way the accordion and pump organ are arranged. It’s our way of paying respect to Chris and his family.”
(note: it is the only Calexico track on that album)
Here’s a link to more info about Chris Gaffney and the album:

Calexico has recently played several major music festivals in the US including Coachella and Sasquatch. End of August the band will be playing the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco, California.

Joey and John will be playing a few shows with Neko Case and the band will join them for more US shows with Andrew Bird… then it’s on to Europe for July and August tour dates. Visit the tour page for all the info!