Monday, December 19, 2016

Los Lobos at City Winery

David Hidalgo
Several Mexican American high school students ran parallel courses before banding in 1973 in East Los Angeles, California. Vocalist/guitarist/accordionist David Hidalgo and drummer Louie Pérez formed a garage band, guitarist/mandolin player Cesar Rosas had his own group, and bassist and guitarron player Conrad Lozano played in a power trio. Once united, they called themselves Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles (The Wolves of East Los Angeles) before shortening the name to Los Lobos. The four musicians grew tired of playing American Top 40 songs, however, and began incorporating the traditional Mexican sounds they knew as children. In the early 1980s, Los Lobos added rock to its sound and recruited Steve Berlin of the Blasters on keyboards and woodwinds. Los Lobos were already a Grammy Award winning band by the time the band gained international stardom in 1987 with a cover version of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba." Los Lobos has included drummer Enrique González since 2013. Los Lobos' most recent album is 2015's Gates of Gold.

Once again playing three consecutive nights at City Winery, Los Lobos played solid sets influenced by rock and roll, Tex-Mex, country, zydeco, folk, blues, brown-eyed soul, and traditional music including cumbia, bolero and norteño. Hidalgo and Rosas sang richly, and the marriage of diverse influences filled the room. On the first night, Los Lobos invited on stage vocalist Syd Straw and Dark Star Orchestra guitarist Jeff Mattson. On the second night, School of Rock's 12-year-old guitarist Brandon “Taz” Niederauer jammed with the band. Tonight, the third night, Los Lobos played 15 mostly rocking songs from seven albums before inviting several guests on stage. Guitarist Marc Ribot joined the band for "La venganza de los pelados" and "Georgia Slop." Jackie Greene sang and played sizzling lead guitar on the Allman Brothers Band's "Don't Keep Me Wonderin'" and a medley of the Crickets' "Not Fade Away" and the Grateful Dead's "Bertha." Wilco guitarist Nels Cline came onstage halfway through "Bertha" and stayed for the encore of "La Bamba" and the Leaves' "Hey Joe." The effect was that patrons at the tightly packed venue made space for dancing to the joy-filled rhythms.

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