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Los Lobos - The City Winery - Atlanta 3/30/17

by Pat and George Betzhold on 04/26/17

Los Lobos "Stand and Deliver" in Atlanta

It was 1973, Garfield High School, East Los Angeles (the Jaime Escalante “Stand and Deliver”school,) when David Hidalgo met Louis Perez.  The two bonded after discovering they both had a fondness for relatively obscure music – that of Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, and Fairport Convention (Richard Thompson.) The pair spent a year playing guitars and writing songs. They corralled singer-guitarist Cesar Rosas, bassist Conrad Lozano to form Los Lobos del Este (de Los Angeles.) Like most garage bands that played high school gyms and weddings, they were forced by popular demand to play mostly covers. Finding that to be creatively frustrating, they began to experiment with incorporating traditional acoustic Mexican music into their sets. It proved to be hugely popular as they played hundreds of parties and weddings right up to 1980. That’s when they moved to their current rock based music and, after opening for “Public Image” at the Olympic Auditorium, began their rise to fame and fortune.

They began this show at The City Winery in Atlanta with the title song off their 2010 “Tin Can Trust” album. Slowly building up for the rest of the show, they moved effortlessly to the rocker “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes” that highlights their garage band roots. A slightly up tempo version of “Short Side of Nothing” followed to keep the blood up.

Josh Baca, son of Tex-Mex virtuoso Max Baca, then joined show.  He used his amazing accordion playing abilities to really set the mood for the rest of the show. The band then gave us a taste of their East Los roots by launching into “Yo Canto.” They kept the audience on its toes when they changed up again, playing the very bluesy title cut of their latest album “Gates of Gold” and rockers "Set Me Free (Rosa Lee.)" and “Georgia Slop” to end the set.

The band took a short intermission. It gave us time to reflect upon the road los Lobos took to their success, contributing to movie sound tracks such as “Colors” and the wildly popular “La Bamba.”

They returned to open with an extended version of “All Night Long.” The musical journey then went to Texas, beginning with the accordion heavy “Yo Si Quisiero.”  “Evangeline” got wedged in before “Kiko and the Lavender Moon.”

The party really started when “Cumbia Raza,” and its infectious beat that filled the aisles with dancers. They couldn’t sit down when the band channeled The Grateful Dead with a well worn but never the less outstanding cover of the “Not Fade Away/Bertha” jam. Slowing down the tempo, they fooled those in the audience unfamiliar with the way The Dead would lull you into thinking it was over and then building to a new crescendo. You had to be “Dead” not to be on your feet.

The encore paid homage to their garage band roots by playing covers of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl,” The Rascals “Good Lovin’,” ending with the almost obligatory “La Bamba.”

Personally, I was disappointed that some more of their original music – “Will the Wolf Survive?” and “One Time, One Night” in particular, had not been included. But it was fitting that the band that began with covers would end with covers.  It was a great night.

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