CALEXICO with ARCHER PREWITT at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Monday (June 18). $11. 416-532-1598. Rating: NNNNN
collaborations aren't merely an entertaining sideline for Calexico -- they're what they're all about.In fact, since the Tucson twosome of Joey Burns and John Convertino branched out from Howe Gelb's Giant Sand, they've served as the mood-setting rhythm section for so many artists -- including Richard Buckner, Lisa Germano and, recently, Neko Case -- that Calexico's own studio sessions seem like the moonlighting projects.
So, really, their self-released tour CDs compiled from outtakes, impromptu living-room jams, live performances and their so-called "remix" experiments, serve as a more accurate representation of Calexico than their proper studio albums.
The whole Calexico concept has become so well developed that their latest collection, Aerocalexico (Our Soil, Our Strength) sounds remarkably coherent for an odd assortment of sonic postcards taken with extended family members Paul Niehaus, Doug McCombs, John Contreras, Sofie Gelb and Mia Convertino.
"The most fulfilling thing about Calexico," explains Burns, "is being able to do a variety of projects where we can share our music with people we care about. It connects what we play and touring with the friendships we've made. It's not like "Here's your record contract, go make an album' -- our projects have a real life substance to them.
"By doing our own tour CDs, we can show more of our experimental side, and it's also a great way of taking care of expenses on the road. So it not only opens up another avenue of expression, it also helps to continue the whole process."
However, because the discs are manufactured in limited runs to be sold only on tour, they've become instant collectibles. Burns is less than thrilled to hear what they're selling for on eBay.
"This guy we met at a show recently said, "I just got your Road Map CD in an auction for $50!' I just felt awful."
"We only print enough to bring with us on the tour we're doing, because we'll have a new disc for the next tour. I'd like to keep them limited, but nobody should have to pay $50 for a Calexico CD -- that's ridiculous."