Music & Clubs

The E Family

BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LETTER E: The E Familyperforms Saturday at Montalvo.

PETE ESCOVEDO knows he's lucky to have such a talented musical family. He really does. But that doesn't mean he can keep them all straight. The sheer size of his clan gives the South Bay's favorite bandleader plenty of trouble at family gatherings. "I'm always surprised, like 'There's another one! There's another relative, I don't remember that one,'" he says. "There's too many Escovedos."

Then again, who wouldn't want to be one? The legendary Latin percussionist was the son of a big band vocalist, and got his start with his brothers Phil and Coke in the 1960s, until Santana hired Pete and Coke to play in his band. Another brother is Alejandro Escovedo, one of Texas' most acclaimed singer/songwriters. Pete's son Peter Michael has made his mark as a percussionist on television (and is the biological father of Nicole Richie); his other son Juan and daughter Zina got their start playing in his Latin jazz band. So did his other daughter Sheila, better known as Sheila E.

It gets even more complicated than that, but suffice it to say that after years of playing on each other's CDs, an official E Family album, Now & Forever, has finally been cut, featuring a core of Pete, Sheila, Juan and Peter Michael, and appearances from such non-family stars as Gloria Estefan, Joss Stone and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Making that happen was quite a challenge, considering the schedules that had to be coordinated, and the different styles, as well. "We've always wanted to do something like this," says Pete. "I've had the kids on my CDs, and some of us have been on Sheila's CDs. It was great fun, but it was not easy. Here we are, we all have our individual projects, we all have our individual tastes in music—how we record, the way it's done, everything. And who we were going to use as far as personnel was concerned. We had our disagreements, like any other family."

Rather than playing the "because I'm your father, that's why" card, Pete took great pains to make sure everyone had equal say in how the record was done. "It was great, because we got the chance to vote on things, majority wins," he says.

This Montalvo show is a second chance for the South Bay to see the E Family, after they were supposed to open Prince's HP shows. Sheila, once again a member of Prince's band as well as getting her own featured spots, was a highlight of Prince's run of shows this year, and the E Family did open one of the shows at the Forum in L.A. They were booked to open the San Jose shows, but at the last minute found out they had been double-booked with Larry Graham, who ended up opening.

"We had to turn around and come home," he says. "We were looking forward to it, because we have a real good fan base in San Jose."

Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga

Saturday, July 9 8pm

$49-$86.


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