Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys at Humphreys – Concert Review

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Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys Sunday, July 31 at Humphrey’s by the Bay

I was out at KPRi’s live broadcast at Penny Lane in San Marcos supporting the release of 102.1′s new CD Find Your Voice Volume 1. When they said they were going to raffle off tickets to the Los Lobos/Los Lonely Boys concert, I had to throw my name in the hat. Los Lobos has been a favorite of mine since virtually “growing up” with them in Los Angeles some 20 years ago. Well, it looks like I still have some of that East LA mojo, because mine was the lucky name drawn!

As rock bands go, Los Lobos, the East LA outfit that has been together almost 40 years, displays the smallest ego but some of the deepest soul. Sunday night’s concert at Humphrey’s by the Bay was another example of how effortlessly this band can deliver multiple genres of music without the slightest hint of pretentiousness.

Opening with a high energy blues rocker, “Shakin’, Shakin’, Shakes,” Los Lobos had no trouble smoothly drifting into an audience-supported sing-along of “The Neighborhood.” And then, just like that, they had the Humphrey’s audience on its feet with a deep-grooving cumbia only a few songs later.

Lobos live is like attending a large family reunion. Songs are periodically dedicated to friends and family members in the crowd, and even the grand kids running around toward the back of the stage get a shout out from a grateful lead singer/guitarist David Hidalgo. Los Lobos infuses depth, spontaneity, and an overall sense of togetherness that only a band who has all original members still together after 30 plus years can produce. Throughout the show the band would routinely ease back into a groove and turn a 3 minute radio hit into a 10 minute jam. “Don’t Worry Baby” and “Tin Can Trust” gave the whole band a chance to stretch things out. Both songs featured Steve Berlin taking a few good turns on the sax and some nice interplay between guitarist Cesar Rosas and Hildago.

The show hit its peak when the band launched into a couple of traditional Mexican numbers. The ever-popular Lobos show stopper “Volver, Volver” had the aisles crowded with dance partners squaring off. The momentum only continued when opening act Los Lonely Boys joined the band for “Hey Joe,” a blazing guitar-heavy homage to Jimi Hendrix. Lonely Boys guitarist Henry Garza stood in strong with his mentors, dropping a few dazzling solos here and there throughout the song, creating the same guitar pyrotechnics that he did during his band’s opening set. It was a joyful party atmosphere of blues rock from the Chicano trio from Texas.

Los Lonely Boys’ opening set started the “we are family” vibe when they invited 3 members of Los Lobos out to help finish off their set. They turned in a rousing “16 Monkeys” where guitarists Rosas, Hidalgo, and Garza flipped solos back and forth to each other like they were jamming in their garage, which was pretty much the feel throughout both bands’ sets. Though I’ve seen Los Lobos easily over 20 times, they once again proved that they know how to host a loose, good-time, summer night jam.

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