Music  |  Features

Alejandro Escovedo at the Democratic National Convention

September 9, 2008  |  2:14pm
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Saturday, August 23rd

We received a call out of the blue asking if we'd like to play the DNC on Tuesday—the night Hillary Clinton is to speak. The word was that they had fallen in love with the song "People" off of Real Animal, and that it really emphasized the message of the night. Turns out that the talent producer of the event is a fan of my music, and she came across the song and thought it was perfect for the tone of the night. I thought any opportunity to play against the Republicans was a great one.

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Monday, August 25th

Traveled to Denver. Met up with Jan Stabile (management), Heather Davis (publicist) and full band (David Pulkingham, Susan Voelz, Hector Munoz, Josh Gravelin and Brian Standefer) this afternoon in Denver. We walked around downtown Denver, had dinner and took in whatever energy we could in such a short time. Walking from the hotel and back was exciting, you could feel the energy in the air. I was psyched.


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Tuesday, August 26th

Our lobby call was at 9:30 a.m. On the way to soundcheck, we had to pass through fairly light security (a couple of gate checks and metal detector) as we entered the Pepsi Center. We were set up in a nice green room within the bowels of the arena. Finally we were called to soundcheck at 11 a.m. and made our way to the floor, walking through a maze of journalists, commentators, pundits and politicians everywhere. It was not rock and roll. Once on the floor of the Convention, they got us situated up on the podium. As we were beginning to warm up and run through the song, a group of people led by secret service agents passed right below us. It was President Jimmy Carter. Since I had contributed to the Jonathan Demme-directed documentary about Jimmy Carter, Man From Plains, I was hoping that I could at least extend my respects. Heather chased after them and somehow bum-rushed the group and made it possible for me to meet and have my photo taken with President Carter on the set of CNN, which was a great thrill and honor because I always respected him so much. He was everything I had hoped he would be.


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We then went back and finished soundcheck amongst the scores of cameraman, film crews and photographers on site, who all seemed to dig the song. Once finished, we were escorted back to the green room and were getting ready to leave when we were called back to the stage to perform the song again to get camera angles. That afternoon, we took in lunch at the famed Capitol Grille. After lunch, two women walked by with "Tacos for Obama" t-shirts which we coveted and never found.


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Making our way back to the Pepsi Center that afternoon for the performance, there were new routes devised and escalated security measures were in full force. Once through the many outer layers of security, we were sent through a final check point that resembled a border crossing. Everyone had to get out of their vehicles and all our bags had to be x-rayed before being allowed to re-enter the Pepsi Center. Once inside, you could feel the energy level rising—the politician speeches were being given and many more people running through the hallways.


Finally, it was time to head back once more to the stage—we'd been back and forth to the stage so many times that day, even the press were starting to recognize us. As we were on our way, we were held to the side to make way for one of the more high-profile politician/speakers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. There was make-up. Then it was showtime. Our opening act was a long-winded politician from Illinois. We were told to hit the stage and had five minutes to prepare. We played "People" for the delegates— Illinois, Colorado and New Hampshire were really into it. New Hampshire had tambourines and knew how to use them; not always in the same tempo, but with vigor. The energy from the room was palpable—thousands of people all the way to the rafters, waving signs, wearing crazy hats, cameras and press everywhere.


It seemed to just fly by.


We finished playing and I was exhilarated. I was then told that "Ann" wanted to see me — it was Ann Curry from The Today Show. We had done the show about two months prior, and it was great to see her and speak with her again. Small world—it turns out that her producer had been in Kevin Johnson's band out of D.C., and we had played several gigs together.


She asked me, "What's next for you? Are you going to play more gigs for Obama?" I remember telling her that I was honored to be part of such a historical event. It was the anniversary of a woman's right to vote and that an African American man was about to accept the nomination to run for president which to a Chicano, who was born in Texas and grew up in the '60s, was such a special moment. I walked away thinking maybe these issues of race and gender won't be issues anymore.


Peace and Love….

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