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Benefits Aid Ailing Escovedo

Fastball, Gourds members play to help pay medical bills

A string of benefits are being planned to help singer-songwriter
Alejandro Escovedo pay his medical bills. Escovedo collapsed after
a show April 26th in Phoenix and has since been diagnosed with
advanced cirrhosis of the liver, a complication of Hepatitis C.

This week the Continental Club, in Escovedo’s hometown of
Austin, Texas, will host a pair of benefits featuring Miles Zuniga
of Fastball, Kevin Russell of the Gourds, Jon Dee Graham, Beaver
Nelson and David Garza, with additional shows being planned at
clubs in Chicago, Seattle, San Diego and North Carolina.

Garza toured with Escovedo in 2001 as part of a trio with pedal
steel player Eric Heywood. “Although Alejandro is twenty years my
senior, I always refer to him with affection as ‘the son I never
had,'” says Garza. “With regards to the Austin music scene, what Bo
Diddley is to rock & roll, what Baudelaire is to French dandies
— so is Alejandro Escovedo to Austin music. I call him Bo
Diddliaire.”

Escovedo feels like he’s turned a corner of late, with the low
point coming during his weeklong stay in an Arizona hospital last
month, which included an emergency transfusion after his blood
pressure began to dwindle. “They gave me two pints of blood and I
began to come back,” he says, “but I was really slipping away. It
was very close.”

In the time since, Escovedo has been resting and treating his
illness with a mixture of Eastern and Western medicine, taking
Chinese herbs, American pills and once a month making the 300 mile
drive north from his home in Canyon Lake, Texas, to Dallas for
blood work.

Like many musicians, Escovedo has no health insurance and his
medical bills currently tally about $20,000, a figure his manager
calls the “tip of the iceberg” given the treatments and medications
to come.

“The doctors are hoping that Interpheron [a Hep C treatment] and
a combination of drugs will take,” Escovedo says. “If they don’t,
they’ll discontinue the procedure and try another one. Hopefully it
won’t end up being a liver transplant.”

Prior to his collapse, Escovedo had begun work on a new album
with producer Chris Stamey (Whiskeytown, Yo La Tengo), but the
record is on the backburner and Escovedo has cancelled all
performances for the rest of the year. “I’ve been resting more than
anything,” he says.

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