Calexico (band)

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Calexico on April 25, 2015 in the "Atelier", Luxembourg.  V. l.  To the right: Jairo Zavala, John Convertino, Jacob Valenzuela, Martin Wenk, Sergio Mendoza, Joey Burns, Ryan Alfred
Calexico on April 25, 2015 in the "Atelier", Luxembourg. V. l. To the right: Jairo Zavala, John Convertino, Jacob Valenzuela, Martin Wenk, Sergio Mendoza, Joey Burns, Ryan Alfred
General information
origin Tucson , United States
Genre (s) Alternative country , indie rock
founding 1996
Current occupation
Joey Burns
John Convertino
Guitar, lap steel guitar , vocals
Jairo Zavala
Trumpet , vibraphone , keyboard , vocals, percussion
Jacob Valenzuela
Trumpet, vibraphone, guitar, accordion , flugelhorn , backing vocals , percussion
Martin Wenk
Scott Colberg
Keyboard, guitar, accordion, percussion
Sergio Mendoza
Calexico at the ZMF 2016 in Freiburg
Calexico at the ZMF 2016

Calexico is an American band from Tucson , Arizona , formed by Joey Burns and John Convertino.

Band history

Founding members Joey Burns and John Convertino originally played in the group Giant Sand with Howe Gelb. Inspired by a variety of old instruments they found in music store warehouses, the idea of ​​starting a band and creating a mix sound based on acoustic instruments was born. Under the name Spoke , they released their first album as an LP in 1997 on the Bavarian independent label " Hausmusik " . When it was released on CD, the band had renamed itself Calexico ; Spoke was then just the title of the album. Within a few years, Calexico became very successful in both America and Europe with atmospheric songs and instrumental pieces that have often been compared to film soundtracks.

In addition, Burns and Convertino founded the band Friends of Dean Martinez together with Bill Elm , which they left after a short time.


The band combines different styles of music such as Mexican mariachi , folk and country rock , Latin jazz or "desert" and "gringo rock". The style is now also known as "Tucson Desert Rock" and has its role models in some pieces by the 1960s West Coast band Love (e.g. Alone Again Or ).

Important geographical and political points that determine the work of Calexico are the desert and especially the borderland between the United States and Mexico ( Calexico is the name of a place and a trunk word from California and Mexico). The political and social situation at the border is an important topic for Calexico and can be found in many of their songs, for example in Across the Wire , a ballad about two brothers who try to cross the border in the hope of a better life. The piece Crystal Frontier , inspired by the book The Glass Border (1995) by Carlos Fuentes , artistically deals with the border between the USA and Mexico.

Guest musician

Calexico regularly play with the musicians of the Mexican mariachi group Luz de Luna , with whom they also went on tour in Europe. They also played with the French duo Amor Belhom and with Neko Case and Barbara Manning . In 2005 they recorded an EP (In The Reins) with Samuel Beam (aka Iron & Wine ) . Martin Wenk accompanied Stephan Eicher on his tour in 2006 (Blue Balls Luzern) and went on tour with Nada Surf in 2010 and with Dear Reader in 2011 .

The soundtrack of the film I'm Not There (2007) features Calexico with Jim James , Iron & Wine , Roger McGuinn , Willie Nelson and Charlotte Gainsbourg . They also have a brief appearance in the film. The title Ballad of Cable Hogue was recorded with the American-French singer Marianne Dissard ; Dissard can also be seen in the music clip of the piece. In addition, members of Calexico were involved in the recording of Marianne Dissard's first album L'entredeux (2008).

For the 15th anniversary of their first label Hausmusik, Calexico took part in two contributions to the anniversary sampler "You can't always listen to Hausmusik, but ..." in 2006: once in cooperation with The Notwist on the piece "Careless" and with A Million Mercies , the band of the then label owner Wolfgang Petters , on the song "Friends".

In 2008, Joey Burns played with Manu Katché in his regular jam session One Shot Not . The Franco-German joint broadcaster arte broadcast an excerpt from this on October 26, 2008 in its night program.

In the summer of 2009 the group played several concerts with the Italian artist Vinicio Capossela.

In August 2012 the band played two concerts and radio sessions (including for the Austrian broadcaster FM4 ) with the Babelsberg Film Orchestra and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra . Excerpts from it were released on Spiritoso (bonus CD of the deluxe edition of the album Algiers and limited LP).



year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
2000 Hot rail DE43 (3 weeks)
- - UK57 (1 week)
2003 Feast of Wire DE10 (9 weeks)
AT22 (7 weeks)
CH41 (3 weeks)
UK71 (1 week)
2005 In the Reins - - - - US135 (1 week)
2006 Garden ruin DE24 (5 weeks)
AT18 (6 weeks)
CH62 (3 weeks)
UK76 (1 week)
US156 (2 weeks)
2008 Carried to Dust DE18 (5 weeks)
AT24 (7 weeks)
CH35 (5 weeks)
UK55 (1 week)
US98 (2 weeks)
2012 Algiers DE13 (4 weeks)
AT6 (6 weeks)
CH11 (4 weeks)
UK60 (1 week)
US72 (2 weeks)
2015 Edge of the Sun DE6 (4 weeks)
AT4 (5 weeks)
CH4 (4 weeks)
UK37 (1 week)
US193 (1 week)
2018 The Thread That Keeps Us DE7 (4 weeks)
AT9 (7 weeks)
CH12 (2 weeks)
UK58 (1 week)
2019 Years to Burn DE16 (3 weeks)
AT13 (3 weeks)
CH46 (1 week)
- -
with Iron & Wine

More albums

  • Spoke (1997 under the band name Spoke; CD re-release as Calexico)
  • The Black Light (1998)

Concert albums

  • Road Map (1999, Tour-only CD)
  • Travelall (2000, tour-only CD)
  • Aerocalexico 2001 (2001, tour-only CD)
  • Scraping (2002, tour-only CD)
  • The Book and the Canal (2005, Tour-only CD)
  • Tool Box (2007, tour-only CD)
  • Ancienne Belgique - Live in Brussels (2008, tour-only CD)
  • Live in Nuremberg (2009, only as download on the internet)
  • Spiritoso (2012, released as a bonus CD of the deluxe edition by Algiers and as a tour-only LP)


  • Descamino (2000)
  • Crystal Frontier (2001)
  • Even My Sure Things Fall Through (2001)
  • Alone Again Or (2003)
  • Black Heart (2004)
  • Convict Pool (2004)
  • Live Session EP (2006, only available as iTunes download)
  • Maybe on Monday EP (2013, only available at concerts or as iTunes download)

Joint EPs

  • Tête à tête (2001) as ABBC with Naim Amor & Thomas Belhom, Joey Burns & John Convertino, Marianne Dissard, Martin Wenk
  • In the Reins (2005) with Iron & Wine
  • Years to Burn (2019) with Iron & Wine

Rarities and compilations

  • Superstition Highway (1994, tape)
  • Spoke (1996, LP, still without the name Calexico)
  • VPRO'S Moondive - Musicians on a Mission Vol. 4 (Live concert with Joey Burns & John Convertino, Netherlands, Paradiso June 25, 1999, CD)
  • Committed (2000, film soundtrack)
  • The Black Session (2000, No. 163, radio concert France Inter @Studio 105, Paris 22 May, CD)
  • Hot Rail (2010, Slang20 Reissues Limited deluxe Edition, CD + bonus CD)
  • Feast of Wire (2010, Slang20 Reissues Limited deluxe Edition, CD + bonus CD)
  • Selections from Road Atlas: 1998–2011 (2011, 16 exclusive & rare songs taken from Calexico's tour-only CDs, CD)

Video albums

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

Film music

Singles (chart successes)

year Title
Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, album , rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
2000 Ballad of Cable Hogue
Hot Rail
- - - UK97 (1 week)
2001 Crystal Frontier
single track
- - - UK89 (1 week)


  1. a b Chart sources: DE AT CH UK US

Web links

Commons : Calexico  - collection of images, videos and audio files