Calexico traces their musical roots to the friendship between Joey Burns and John Convertino, who met at the University of California, Irvine. Moving to Arizona, the pair worked as a rhythm section on several independent recordings before forming the band. Named after a town near the US-Mexico border, the music of Calexico connects the folk and alt country music of America with Latin musical styles from cumbia to mariachi.
Burns and Convertino spent years working as session musicians prior to Calexico, a practice they continued during the early years of the band. Calexico also established a connection with fans by marketing their early records exclusively through merchandise sales at performances. Their reputation as a live band grew through tours with Pavement and Lambchop plus a full schedule of festival appearances.
Calexico has always been known for their atmospheric records that seek to establish a mood or a sense of place. The pattern was established on 1997’s The Black Light which was a turning point in Calexico’s career. It introduced new elements – mariachi trumpets, Latin rhythms and pedal steel guitar – to their dusty desert sound, creating the hybrid that would become their signature.
The group’s tenth record El Mirador continues this tradition. Named after a border town, the album channels the bands love of the southwest to produce their most danceable record by continuing on their fusion of traditional southwestern musical styles with an alt-country influence. Joey Burns says “El Mirador is dedicated to family, friends and community. The pandemic highlighted all the ways we need each other, and music happens to be my way of building bridges and encouraging inclusiveness and positivity. That comes along with sadness and melancholy, but music sparks change and movement.”.