Calexico | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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It's been a while since anyone referred to Calexico as a side project for John Convertino and Joey Burns, but that's how the band started out nearly a decade ago. Back then the duo was better known as the rhythm section for Howe Gelb's desert rock ensemble, Giant Sand. They continued to pull double duty for years but are conspicuously absent from the forthcoming Giant Sand release (due in September on Thrill Jockey), which Gelb made with a crew of Danish musicians. The parting of ways was perhaps inevitable, given Calexico's rising success, Burns and Convertino's diminished availability, and the resultant, not-so-secret rift between them and Gelb. Presently Calexico is supporting two new releases: Worlds Drift In (City Slang) is a bonus-heavy import DVD spotlighting a 2002 concert in London, with the band backed by Luz de Luna, a seven-piece mariachi outfit; Convict Pool (Quarterstick) is a six-song EP evenly split between covers and originals. The latter opens with a fairly straight take on Love's "Alone Again Or" (as a duet between Burns and Swedish soccer player turned pop crooner Nicolai Dunger) and continues with slightly more adventurous reworkings of Francoiz Breut's "Si tu disais" and the Minutemen's "Corona" (aka the theme from Jackass). The originals--"Praskovia," "Sirena," and the title track--stay true to the group's signature blend of Gypsy jazz, Morricone twang, and Waitsian hoodoo. The band headlines the first day of the Lincoln Park Festival. Donation requested. Saturday, June 19, 6 PM, Clark & Armitage; 773-868-3010.

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