I admit, even though I love Los Lobos now, it took me some time to get into them. When I wrote a blog about their album Los Angelenos - The Eastside Renaissance, I admitted that as a 15 year old, their music “was the kind of music that could be easily digested by the readers of Rolling Stone as being adventurous.” There was no way I could understand Los Lobos as a kid. They were adults. They were men who were married and had children. They had been part of the East Los music community for years by the time their records on Slash were released. Los Lobos isn’t one of those bands you grow up with. It’s a band you appreciate when you are older.
Sure enough, as I got older, I not only began to appreciate them, but I feel that now I fully understand them. Their lyrics had the same artistry as other Chicano visionaries such as writer Rudolfo Anaya or painter Patssi Valdez, coupled with their ability to make art that was both personal and universal. Hearing the song “La Pistola Y El Corazon” is like having a shot of tequila when heartbroken. "One Time One Night" makes me think of all the people I have lost. I saw my childhood in “Kiko And The Lavender Moon.” I saw my own past fly before my eyes in “Oh Yeah.”
This past week's event was Los Lobos’ third in-store appearance in nine years at Amoeba Hollywood. They started with “Burn It Down,” a song from their excellent new album, Tin Can Trust. The song has lots of Alt-Country flavoring with a blistering David Hidalgo guitar solo that was part Richard Thompson, part Thurston Moore. They followed it up with “Don’t Worry Baby” from Will The Wolf Survive? That song is an instant jump-up number that can get any crowd going. But it was the new songs, such as the title track, "Tin Can Trust," and the standout “Jupiter And The Moon,” a song with shades of Traffic’s “Low Spark of the High-Heeled Boys” that shined the most. Those two songs easily fit with the other Lobos classics they played that night, such as “Will The Wolf Survive” and “Shakin' Shakin' Shakes.” They played two of Cesar Rosas' signature Cumbias, “Yo Canto” from the new album and “Cumbia De La Raza” from the album This Time. Both had many people dancing in the aisles to their East L.A. Cumbia rhythm.
David Hidalgo dedicated their cover of The Grateful Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway” to the 15th year anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death. Los Lobos toured with The Grateful Dead in the mid-eighties, a daunting task for any band due to the dedication Deadheads had for their beloved band. In a lot of ways, Los Lobos are more like the Grateful Dead than many of their knock-offs. For instance, the writing team of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter serves the same role as the Hidalgo/Perez team, and likewise with songwriters Cesar Rosas and Bob Weir. Rosas and Weir’s songs are the ones that everyone gets up to dance to. The Garcia/Hunter and Hidalgo/Perez team wrote all the songs that everyone quotes. Both bands have strong ties in roots music, The Dead with Bluegrass and Los Lobos with Traditional Mexican music. On top of that, each band has great musicianship, including two distinctive lead guitar players. The comparisons are so deep that even Robert Hunter has started collaborating with the Los Lobos of late.
Lastly, one of the best things said about The Grateful Dead was that they weren’t the best at what they did -- they were the only ones who did it. The same could be said about Los Lobos. Their blend of bilingual Classic Rock, Blues, Tex-Mex, Son Jarocho, Cumbia and East Los Soul rivals the eclecticism that The Dead brought into the world five decades earlier. Sure, there are many groups that may have one or two flavors of each band’s sound, but never the whole dish.
To see all the pictures from the Los Lobos instore, click here!