Alejandro Escovedo is celebrating a special first…
The 69-year-old Mexican American rock musician has notched his first entry on any Billboard Latin chart as La Cruzada, with Don Antonio, arrives at No. 8 on the Latin Pop Albums chart (dated November 7) with 1,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending October 29, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.
La Cruzada is the Spanish version of Escovedo’s 2018 album The Crossing, with Don Antonio, which bowed at No. 6 on the Heatseekers Albums chart and at No. 28 on the Rock Albums Sales charts in September 2018.
Alejandro is a member of the storied Escovedo music family, which includes his brothers Pete and Coke, and niece Sheila E.
“It’s been a while since I was on the charts,” Escovedo tells Billboard from his home in Austin, Texas. “To have this record on the chart is very rewarding, such a beautiful thing for me. It seems my whole lifetime has led to this record. This is kind of the epitome of what I always wanted to do and express. I love the concept of an album, I love the storytelling of an album, this one gave me an opportunity to fully express in a way that I don’t think I had in previous records.”
Escovedo’s The Crossing, with Italian band Don Antonio -fronted by multi-instrumentalist Antonio Garmantieri, was co-written with Garmantieri and recorded in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Its Spanish version, La Cruzada, was released via Yep Roc/Redeye and pressed on red, white and green striped double vinyl exclusively for Record Store Day.
Two years after the release of its original English version, La Cruzada secures a spot on the Latin charts. “I thought the message had to be heard,” Escovedo adds. “My father was born in Saucillo, Mexico and crossed the border in 1907 when he was 12. I come from a musical family, my brother Pete and Coke Escovedo played for Santana, and Sheila E is my niece. The story of The Crossing and La Cruzada is really about my family, my father.”
He continues, “When (Donald) Trump came down the escalator and announced that some Mexicans were rapists and drug dealers I really took a stand, of course, as a lot of us probably did. I thought this is something that needs to be addressed. I’ve always tried to tell my Dad’s story, but I’ve never had a large Latin audience because I come from rock-and-roll, punk rock, and I sing in English.”
About La Cruzada’s 1,000 limited copies, Escovedo adds: “The record was just going to be a Record Store Day release in vinyl with the special packaging. Then the label was supposed to put it out as a general release for everyone on CD and vinyl, but because of Covid our tour was cancelled, and the release of the record was delayed. Not sure where that hangs right now with but hopefully with this Billboard attention they see there’s potential for a larger audience.”
“We used the same backing tracks we recorded for The Crossing,” Escovedo adds. “We translated the lyrics and Alex Ruiz, lead singer of band Del Castillo, recorded the vocals in Spanish at Rick del Castillo’s studio. I did some of the background vocals with him. I wanted Alex’s voice, though, I thought he could articulate the words in a way I probably wouldn’t because my Spanish isn’t that great.”
About the production of The Crossings Escovedo remembers: “My wife and I flew to Italy and spent a month making this record out there with Don Antonio. The distance somehow gave me the way of seeing the story and America in a different eye. Traveling is something I recommend, to see the world through other people’s eyes, to have a different view point.”
The album tells the tale of two boys — Diego from Mexico and Salva from Italy — who meet while working in a restaurant in Galveston, Texas to chase their American rock-and-roll dreams. La Cruzada gets the same treatment en español and earns Escovedo and Don Antonio their first top 10 on any Latin chart.
“It’s crazy!” Escovedo muses. “When my manager Randy gave me the news, it just went over my head and I didn’t understand it. I thought, ‘Oh, we’re going to do an interview with Billboard on the record,’ which I thought was wonderful, any attention is great. Then at the end of the conversation I said, ‘Tell me that again, what happened with the record?’ and he says: ‘You are No. 8 — in the top 10 — on the Latin Pop Albums chart.’ I flipped out; that’s something that’s never happened for me and this is a real blessing for us, it brought a lot of joy to another wise strange and dark and uncertain day.”