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A musician with equal affection for string sections and the Stooges, Alejandro Escovedo is the songwriter No Depression magazine would’ve had to invent if he didn’t already exist. Escovedo has his punk-rock bona fides—his first band, the Nuns, opened the Sex Pistols’ final show—and throughout his career he’s found a way to lash that emotional energy even to his acoustic songs, which tend to deal in hard living and bad love. (It’s not to dismiss his own songwriting to say that his leering, loping cover of the Gun Club’s “Sex Beat” is among his finest moments.) Since surviving a near-fatal bout with hepatitis C earlier this decade, his music’s been less moody and more reflective—his lyrics on the new Real Animal revisit his days with the Nuns and Rank & File, and if anybody has the right to play a blues song called “People (We’re Only Gonna Live So Long),” it’s him. Escovedo performs with Vandaveer at 7 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $20. (202) 265-0930.