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Calexico is a Tucson, Arizonamarker-based rock band. The band's two main members, Joey Burns and John Convertino, first played together in Los Angelesmarker as part of the group Giant Sand. They have recorded a number of albums on Quarterstick Records, while their 2005 EP In the Reins recorded with Iron & Wine has reached the Billboard 200 album charts. Their musical style is influenced by traditional sounds of mariachi / Tejano music and the Southwestern United Statesmarker country music, and they have been described by some as indie rock. The band is named for the border town of Calexico, Californiamarker.



Joey Burns
Calexico had its origins in 1990 when Burns, who was studying music at the University of California, Irvinemarker, met up with Convertino, who was playing drums with Howe Gelb in Giant Sand. Burns joined them, after first playing upright bass on a European tour.

Giant Sand moved to Tucson, Arizonamarker in 1994. John and Joey formed the Friends of Dean Martin (later the Friends of Dean Martinez) which scored a record deal with Sub Pop. However, the pair split up with Bill Elm, the co-founder of The Friends of Dean Martinez in 1996. The band subsequently became a kind of indie rhythm section for hire, working with the likes of Victoria Williams, Barbara Manning and Richard Buckner before forming Calexico.

Recording history: 1996–present

Calexico first recorded Spoke in 1996 for German independent label Hausmusik with a limited edition of 2,000 copies. At that point the band was still called Spoke and the album was technically self-titled. After the band signed with Quarterstick Records (a subsidiary of Touch and Go Records) and changed their name to Calexico, Spoke was reissued by that label in 1997. Burns and Convertino also collaborated with Gelb and Lisa Germano on the album Slush released under the name OP8 that same year.

Their second album The Black Light was released in 1998. This was a concept album about the desert of Arizona and northern Mexico and received excellent reviews, with the critic from the Wall Street Journal rating it as one of the best records of the year.

The band built their profile by touring as support acts for bands such as Pavement, the Dirty Three and Lambchop. Calexico has regularly played festivals such as the Bonnaroo Music Festival, the Hurricane Festivalmarker and All Tomorrow's Parties. The Road Map album was a limited recording released in 1999 for sale only at Calexico's live shows.

Calexico released its third album Hot Rail in May 2000 featuring the addition of horns and violin to their sound. The duo was busy in 2000 as they also appeared on a Giant Sand record called Chore of Enchantment as well as a tour only record Travelall.

At the end of 2000, Calexico joined with two French friends Naïm Amor and Thomas Belhôm to record Tete a Tete for release at the beginning of 2001. The band released two collections of rarities during 2001. Even My Sure Things Fall Through collected outtakes from previous albums, B-sides, remixes and material previously unreleased in the US. The album also featured Mariachi Luz de Luna who frequently played live with the duo. The Aerocalexico album was sold exclusively at their gigs in 2001.

The Scraping live album was released in 2001. Their next studio recording Feast of Wire was released in 2003 and made the charts for the first time appearing on Billboard's Heatseekers and Independent album chart. They made their first video for "Quattro (World Drifts In)" which was a single from Feast of Wire. They released a live DVD in 2004 called World Drifts In: Live at the Barbican. The song "Güero Canelo", from Feast of Wire, was featured in Michael Mann's Film, Collateral, starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx.

Calexico contributed the song "Burnin' Down the Spark" to Nancy Sinatra's self-titled album in late 2004. The album featured artists who cited Sinatra as a musical influence. The song was released in the UK as the second single from the album in early 2005.

In 2005, Calexico joined up with South Carolina folk band Iron & Wine. Howard Greynolds of Overcoat Records was responsible for bringing the two bands together having previously been responsible for Tortoise and Will Oldham recording together. The In the Reins EP was released in September 2005 and received a positive reception with an MSNBC review giving it honorable mention. It also made an appearance in the Billboard 200 album charts, becoming their first recording to make the album charts, and #12 on the independent charts. In October 2005, they commenced a US tour with Iron & Wine to promote the record.

Released in 2006, Garden Ruin is Calexico's fifth studio album. The sound strays slightly from earlier works, focusing less on the horn section, and placing more emphasis on guitar and vocal tracks, giving the whole album a more mainstream sound.

Several of Calexico's songs, usually their shorter instrumental pieces, have been used as interstitial and background music on Public Radio International's This American Life. Their songs "Ballad Of Cable Hogue" and "Service And Repair" were featured in the 2001 German comedy movie Lammbock.

It was announced in June 2008 that their sixth studio LP would be called 'Carried to Dust', featuring Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, Douglas McCombs of Tortoise and Pieta Brown. It was released in the USA via Touch & Go Records on September 9th.. The album has enjoyed strong reviews, with its hometown paper the Arizona Daily Star praising the band's "ability to sweep you into its world, taking listeners to the American Southwest. This is one of the reasons Europeans love Calexico and others in this country are beginning to come around."

On October 16th, 2008, a three-song live acoustic video performance premiered on LiveDaily Sessions, featuring Joey Burns performing the songs "Two Silver Trees," "Writer's Minor Holiday" and "Man Made Lake".


The current members of Calexico as of May 2006 are:

  • Joey Burns – guitars and vocals
  • John Convertino – drums and percussion
  • Paul Niehaus – steel guitar
  • Jacob Valenzuela – keyboards, trumpet and vibraphone
  • Martin Wenk – accordion, guitar, synthesizers, trumpet and vibraphone (sometimes harmonica)
  • Volker Zander – standup bass



Tour only / miscellaneous albums

1. El Morro2. Minas De Cobre (Acoustic)3. Man Goes Where Water Flows4. Glowing Heart of The World5. Too Much Sprawl6. Rollbar

Produced by Joey Burns and John ConvertinoRecorded and Mixed at The Homes of Burns/Convertino and at Wavelab Studios by Craig Schumacher and Nick LucaMastered by Brad Blackwood 1. The Waves Crashing SilentlyThrough The Dominators Hull2. Fine Patina3. The Night Is Upon Us4. Cachaca5. Driving To Get Away6. Comes With A Smile7. Lunada Lando8. Piker Sam9. Flat Handed And On The Wing

Produced by Joey Burns and John ConvertinoRecorded and Mixed at The Homes of Burns/Convertino and at Wavelab Studios by Craig Schumacher and Nick Luca 1. Half a Smidge2. What’s a Little Wait3. Griptape4. Muddy Meadow5. Near the Woodpile6. Unter Unserem Himmel7. Painted Over8. Electric Relay9. Ghostwriter10. Dredging11. Heavy With the Bass12. Arco Chato13. Break to Barranca14. Kiss and Tell15. In the Cut16. Drag Storm Around17. One Last Panoramic

Recorded at various locations (studio + live) between 1999-2005by Craig Schumacher, Chris Schultz, Jim Blackwood and Jim WatersMastered by Jim Blackwood at KUAT

1: Above The Branch2: When Bellows Crack3: Lo-Fi Moon4: Barcelona Mosaico5: Hair Like Spanish Moss6: Vinyassa7: The News About William8: The Road Back9: In The Quiet10: Maria Chuchena11: Waitomo12. Detroit Steam13. Departure In F Minor14. When Only The Ashes Are Left

Featuring all instrumental music performed by Joey Burns and John ConvertinoRecorded at Big Block, Tucson AZ by Mike PradoMixed at Wavelab Studio, Tucson AZ by Craig SchumacherMastered by Jim Blackwood at KUAT

1. Bisbee Blue2. Roka3. Bend To The Road4. El Gatillo5. Two Silver Trees6. Inspiracion7. Minas De Cobre8. Man Made Lake9. Alone Again Or10. Fractured Air11. Red Blooms12. Victor Jara’s Hands13. Crystal Frontier14. Crumble (Bonus Track)

Compilation contributions



  • 2004 World Drifts In: Live at the Barbican
  • 2009 Live From Austin TX (Austin City Limits)



2006 on Gotan Project's "Lunatico" album on "Amor Porteño".

Chart positions

  • Hot Rail 2000 UK #57
  • Feast of Wire 2003 #23 Independent Albums, #45 Heatseekers, UK #71
  • In the Reins 2005 #135 Billboard 200, #12 Independent Albums, UK #161
  • Garden Ruin 2006 #156 Billboard 200, #14 Independent Albums, #3 Heatseekers, UK #76
  • Carried To Dust 2008 #98 Billboard 200, #9 Independent Albums, #28 European Albums,UK #55


  1. ‘Apologies to the Queen Mary’ rocks 2005 - Year in Review -
  2. This American Life - FAQ
  3. 'Calexico Dust Off Sixth LP'
  4. Video performance of "Two Silver Trees," "Writer's Minor Holiday" and "Man Made Lake" by Joey Burns of Calexico at LiveDaily Sessions


External links

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