Imagine spending holidays with the Escovedo family.
The E family will spend time with family in Northern California for Thanksgiving and Southern California for Christmas. The family will partake in delicious delicacies, from Sheila’s famous chicken to Moms Escovedo’s delightful macaroni and cheese. Holidays aren’t the only days when the Escovedo family would gather and enjoy family time. Imagine growing up in a musical household. There is a saying that goes, if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life; and how many people can share a testimony of living out their dreams, that they pursued and followed their path, honed their talents, and can bring joy to people all over the world by sharing their gifts? Juan Escovedo, also known as The J, brings magic to the stage, inviting listeners into the magical sounds he has mastered over the years. Playing such instruments as the bongos, trap drums, or the timbales, Juan Escovedo hits the skins with grace and confidence. While Juan Escovedo fell in love with playing the bass, he grew up playing the trumpet and the piano. Juan Escovedo stated, “I was playing bass every day and just loved it. I remember being told you should learn as many instruments as you can to understand what joy they bring.”
As a young child, Juan Escovedo’s father, legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo, had rehearsals and jam sessions in the front room in Escovedo’s family home.
Everyone from Carlos Santana, Cal Tjader, Neil Schon of Journey, John Santos, Bill Summers and many more, graced the front room regularly. It was all about the love of music. Juan Escovedo stated, “You never knew who was going to make it, and it didn’t matter; it was just a jam session in the front room where we all played instruments. My mother played piano, and my father played percussion. We met so many people, and we always loved music.”
The Escovedo children watched and waited for their turn to play, but Pops Escovedo made it clear to his children not to touch the instruments while he was touring; and what did the children do? They not only embraced the music, they learned and mastered the music and spent every moment they could to hone their skills. Juan stated, “My father was always on tour playing with Santana. Whenever he would leave, he would always tell us not to
touch his instruments. He would lock up his instruments in the closet.” This did not stop Juan and his siblings. “I picked the lock. So, we would take his instruments out and play, and when he would come home from tour, he would say, ‘Somebody has been messing with my stuff,’ and I would say, ‘It wasn’t me.’” Juan went on to state, “My pops asked us if we were playing the instruments, and we let him know that we had formed our band.”
Juan remembers giggling with his siblings, Peter Michael and Sheila, but recalls very vividly falling in love with music.
Juan went all in on honing his skills. “When we started taking it seriously, we were taught the proper way of playing, the tone, the slaps and the rhythms.” Juan shared that he learned to read and play music properly; he also spent a great deal of time absorbing knowledge from the many world-renowned musicians in his front room during the jam sessions.
While the pandemic has impacted the arts professionals, Juan spent that time writing and recording songs. At age 62, Juan is releasing his first solo CD on November 8, 2021, at Yoshi’s in Oakland with performances by his band, Juan Escovedo All-Stars. Juan stated, “I’ve been writing songs for a year, and I have been planning on a cd for the
last seven years with my co-writer Michael Angel Alvarado. We’ve been working on songs, and I’ve been saying it’s going to happen.” Juan went on to state, “Now it’s done. I tried to do it two other times, but it didn’t feel right at first because it was too much funk, then it was too much Latin, and now I’m at a place where I can put it all together. I love the songs, and they came out really good.”
Juan has worked in other professions such as retail sales, landscaping, and working as a bank teller, but he always found his way back to his music. His words of encouragement to other musicians are for them to follow their dreams. Juan stated, “If you are serious about it, you can make it, but you have to put in the time. It’s not just practicing. It is listening, watching, and continuous learning.” Juan spoke highly of his mom and dad for creating a solid family foundation. Juan also stated, “When you put a band together, try to be around the positive musicians because your band is like your family.” Juan is also a father of four.
Juan is supportive of upcoming artists.
His foundation, Elevate Oakland is dedicated to providing students with opportunities to engage in art and music programming and performance alongside professional musicians.
Juan has toured with artists such as Prince, MC Hammer, Lionel Riche, Tito Puente, his sister Sheila E., Gloria Estefan, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Patti LaBelle, Bobby McFerrin, and many more. When asked about the most beautiful location he has toured, Juan stated, “There are so many nice places, you can’t name one. It’s not just the place, it’s who you are with and the people who make it beautiful.”
You can follow Juan Escovedo on Facebook and Instagram
and at http://juanescovedo.com/.
Yoshi’s CD Release event: https://yoshis.com/events/buy-tickets/juan-escovedo-all-stars-1/detail