Alejandro Escovedo has never been more excited about life, and he's using that energy to create more music. In the years since a 2003 bout with Hepatitis C almost killed him, Alejandro has been on a fast track to make up for lost time. Besides touring behind his last album, 'Street Songs of Love,' he has been instrumental in developing a multi-city musical program -- United Sounds of America -- exploring music that developed in hot spots on and along Route 66.

"It gave me a whole different outlook," Alejandro tells The Boot of his illness and his newfound musical explorations. "I cleared myself of a lot of things that were unnecessary in my life, that weren't moving me forward. It was a very bleak period, and everything finally came into sharp focus. I saw the person I was and saw the person I hoped to be, and I had to work to get that right. I also saw music as something that was even more special than I thought, more precious than I had thought. It changed the relationship I had with the people I played with."

Kick-starting some of that clarity was a benefit project by friends including Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams and Ian Hunter. The artists recorded 'Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo' to raised money for his medical expenses and more.

As the United Sounds of America series -- which featured multimedia shows and performances by Arlo Guthrie, Suzanne Vega, Marshall Crenshaw, Bettye LaVette and Brendan Benson of the Raconteurs-- wound down, Alejandro plotted his next album and projects.

"I love [Alison Krauss], I love [Lucinda Williams], Jerry Rodriguez, Neko Case," says Alejandro. "There is a lot of interest in doing a duets album [with me]. I have thought of it and could get it done if I wanted to."

For now, though, Alejandro is off to the desert of West Texas to write music. He says he's leaning toward music that speaks to the current climate of the U.S. He doesn't see himself writing a political record, but rather music that speaks to the plight of miners and other working-class people.

"As kids, we carried placards and labor has always been important to us," says Alejandro of the passions he shares with Steve Earle and many other performers. "If you look at two people perhaps, one living in Cleveland and one in Detroit, their experiences are very different trying to live in the modern world. There are advances available at the touch of a finger but there is also so much turmoil. I am very connected to that plight."

Alejandro's next scheduled concert is June 11 in Montclair, N.J. For more concert news, check here.

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