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Calexico: Tiny Desert Concert

Calexico  is one of the most notable bands to come from Arizona. For many, its music — which is sometimes called “desert noir” — is synonymous with the Southwest. It blends styles like Americana and folk, with cumbia and mariachi — making it a reflection of the cultural milieu of the borderlands.

In just over two decades, the Tucson-based band has found a unique place as a group that makes music that is simultaneously personal and political. The lyrics on Calexico’s latest album "The Thread That Keeps Us" serve as a post-2016-election reflection explored through individual stories.

Calexico’s frontman Joey Burns, along with bandmate Sergio Mendoza, visited us in Phoenix just ahead of the kickoff of their summer tour. The Show spoke with Burns about the politics of our region, how the desert landscape shapes Calexico's sound and storytelling through music.

Calexico performed for KJZZ in The Reading Room at Valley Bar. They are performing June 1 at The Van Buren in Phoenix.

If you’re in a band or know of one you’d like to hear on air, send us a note at  [email protected].

Hear More Tiny Desert Concerts

Sarah Ventre produces KJZZ’s two-hour daily program, The Show. Prior to working at KJZZ, she was a producer and editor at NPR headquarters in Washington for a number of shows, desks, podcasts and the national newscast. Her reporting ranges from understanding the relationship between faith, culture, and community among those who have left the FLDS church, to political implications of world music showcases at SXSW. Ventre’s work has been featured on Weekend Edition, Weekend All Things Considered, and on member station WAMU. Ventre also freelances for the Phoenix New Times, Bitch magazine, and several other publications. Ventre grew up in the Valley and is a founder of the nonprofit organization Girls Rock! Phoenix, which puts on a rock ’n’ roll camp for girls, trans, and gender nonconforming youths every summer. She also participates in live storytelling events, and occasionally performance art. Ventre holds a degree in anthropology from Arizona State University. She is always up for a good laugh or a great chile relleno, and is happy to have returned to her hometown to tell stories within her community.