More than four decades since forming in East L.A., Los Lobos continues its road warrior tradition armed with a Tex-Mex blend that leans just as liberally on rock, country, folk, R&B and blues as traditional Spanish and Mexican music. The group recently released the double live disc “Disconnected In New York City” (429 Records) to commemorate its 40th anniversary, toured the world with Neil Young and Crazy Horse, regularly appear at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival and are gearing up for this summer’s massive “Dear Jerry: Celebrating The Music Of Jerry Garcia” (with members of The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Cliff, Bruce Hornsby, Widespread Panic and mounds more).
What the show lacked in a script it more than made up for with joyful jamming, most notably throughout the rockabilly romp “Don’t Worry Baby” and a monstrous mash-up of the chart-topping “La Bamba” with The Rascals’ “Good Lovin.”
In between it all, the multiple Grammy Award winners pack in plenty of headlining dates, including a near capacity performance at the Raue Center For The Arts (the crown jewel of Crystal Lake) sandwiched between two sell outs at Berwyn’s equally venerable FitzGerald’s. Rather than having an opening act, Los Lobos simply started the night by warming up for themselves, which was so engaging and unpredictable it seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.
After teasing their talents with first half highlights “The Neighborhood” and “Set Me Free (Rosa Lee),” co-founders David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano and Louie Perez, along with relative newcomer Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez, rolled up their sleeves even further to show off their world class musicianship. Veteran member Steve Berlin may have been missed in his temporary absence, but the group did offer a surprise after intermission when 16-year-old violin prodigy Isabella Spinelli (Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra) added gorgeous accompaniment to “Giving Tree” and “Emily.”
From there, the guys continued tearing up everything they touched, including an electrifying interpretation of “Crossroads,” roots rockin’ renditions of “Rebel Kind” and “Burn It Down,” plus a slew of on the spot shout-outs. But what the show lacked in a script it more than made up for with joyful jamming, most notably throughout the rockabilly romp “Don’t Worry Baby” and a monstrous mash-up of the chart-topping “La Bamba” with The Rascals’ “Good Lovin.”
During the latter, dozens of fans in the front rows leapt on stage uninvited, though the players didn’t bat an eye and simply cranked up the party another notch to accommodate the extra activity. And even after the show came to a climatic conclusion, the fellas snapped some quick pictures with those lively dancers, suggesting they’re just as friendly off stage as they are on fire when performing with each mile traveled adding additional spice to an already sumptuous sonic spread.
Upcoming performance highlights at the Raue Center For The Arts include Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” (opening April 24 through May 10) and Leon Hushes’ Coasters (from The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s 1987 class) on May 16. For additional details and a complete schedule, visit www.rauecenter.org.