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a welcome return for the big man of mexican roots musicIf you can judge an artist by the company he keeps, then the response when Alejandro Escovedo was in financial difficulties as a result of medical bills a decade ago places him among the most highly regarded in American music.

In common with an increasing number of American musicians, Escovedo ran into trouble paying for treatment for Hepatitis C but the response from his fellow artists was tremendous.

Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo saw contributions from the likes of Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, John Cale, Ian Hunter and The Jayhawks, a fitting response to a man who, in 1999, was accorded the accolade Artist of the Decade by the Americana bible No Depression.

A truly eclectic musician, Escovedo began his career by dabbling in heavy metal and punk, before first coming to the attention of fans in this part of the world as the leader of Rank and File in the mid-1980s.

An expressive performer, excellent guitarist and emotive singer, his songs have reached back into his Mexican heritage when required, not least on 2005's lovely Room of Songs, credited to the Alejandro Escovedo String Quintet.

At his last appearance in Whelan's four years ago he was in fine fettle, having fully recovered from his illness, and gave a performance which brought a lump to the throat of many there, not least when he and his band launched into a beautiful reading of Mott the Hoople's I Wish I Was Your Mother.His new album Big Station is due out next month.


> Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys play Whelan's on Wednesday