Los Lobos survives

...with a Mexican-American take on jazzy-bluesy-funky rock-and-roll

Grammy winners Los Lobos will do the honors at Belly Up's New Year's Eve bash.
  • Grammy winners Los Lobos will do the honors at Belly Up's New Year's Eve bash.

Alas, once again Los Lobos got snubbed by the nominating committee that oversees who does and who does not enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fans have expressed indignation via social media, but I wonder if, after 40 years, the members of Los Lobos even care? After all, can anybody else do what they do, meaning seamlessly blend acoustic norteño and cumbia, the kinds of traditional music the founding band members’ grandparents grew up on, with distinctly original jazzy-bluesy-funky rock-and-roll music? That was a rhetorical question. The answer is no. There really isn’t anybody like Los Lobos at all.

"Mas y Mas"

Los Lobos performing on <em>Austin City Limits</em>

Los Lobos performing on Austin City Limits

There’s a connection between the band and San Diego, that being Steve Berlin, Los Lobos’ sax player. Berlin produced the Beat Farmers’ first album for Rhino Records. Remember Tales of the New West? I’ve spoken with Berlin over the years and found him to be a somewhat crusty and guarded person. Then again, Tales has “Happy Boy” on it, a song that features the late Country Dick Montana singing about fictional dog guts and such, so there has to be a sense of humor somewhere under Berlin’s layers.

Past Event

Los Lobos

  • Thursday, December 31, 2015, 8 p.m.
  • Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
  • 21+

I asked Berlin if he thought Los Lobos would survive, if started in the present-day music climate. He said no. He talked about the eclectic times from which the band emerged — on any given night during the middle 1980s in Los Angeles, you might have X, the Blasters, the Circle Jerks, and hillbilly country boy Dwight Yoakam sharing the same stage with Los Lobos. And their thing — the alternating of traditional Mexican acoustic style and accordion with bari sax and amplified guitars — actually worked. What Los Lobos did was offer us, their gringo audience, some real-life Mexican-American culture in a kind of music we’d never heard before, and they made us dance. Hall of Fame gold or not, there’s something to be said for that.

Hamish Anderson also performs.

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