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Not just another band

Kimberly Nicoletti

BRECKENRIDGE – Los Lobos titled their debut album “Just Another Band from East L.A.,” but they were hardly an average band.

The album hit the charts. Then, in 1983, the single “Anselma” on their “… And a Time to Dance” album earned Los Lobos the first of many Grammy Awards and sold 50,000 copies – profiting enough money to buy a used van for touring.

The blend of traditional Mexican music, rock and blues on their next album “How Will the Wolf Survive?” caught Paul Simon’s attention, and he invited the musicians to sing on his “Graceland” record. Elvis Costello followed suit for his album “King of America.”

Los Lobos became a household name with its version of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” in 1987. The soundtrack from the movie of the same name sold 2 million copies. Los Lobos’ version of the title track hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart, and the band toured nationally and abroad.

Four high school students formed Los Lobos, or “The Wolves,” when they met at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles in the early 1970s. The pack – David Hidalgo, Conrad Lozano, Louie Perez and Cesar Rosas – mixed rock ‘n’ roll with the traditional Mexican music they grew up with, creating their own Tex-Mex style.

“It became a mission, almost a crusade … bringing music together to bring people together,” said drummer Perez in a Gale Group biography.

The musicians set out to be a garage band, but they’ve ended up sticking together for almost 30 years now.

“We were friends before we were ever a band,” Perez said in a press release. “I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve been around as long as we have.”

The band is still going strong and maintaining its loyalty to its Hispanic roots with the latest release, “Good Morning Aztlan.”

“This record covers everything we’re about,” Perez said in a press release for the album.

By everything, he means the sounds of traditional Mexican music, such commercial hits as “La Bamba” and rootsy songs with form and narrative.

But it wasn’t easy integrating nearly 30 years of sounds.

“I was nervous for the first time in a while,” Perez said about going into the studio. “We don’t plan a lot. The saying is that the Los Lobos clock has no hands. It drives everyone else crazy.”

At the last minute, the band recorded a new song, which became the title track.

“We were in the last phase of mixing the record when David came in with a cassette tape of a new idea,” Perez said. “After playing it, we looked around at each other and said, “Oh boy, here we go.'”

They cut the song within two days of the album’s deadline.

The inspiration resulted in a soulful collection of rhythm-and-blues, dreamy tunes, lyrical narratives and rockin’ grooves.

“What really amazes me (is) after this long, we’ve not only become stronger as a band, but we’ve been able to maintain a sense of enthusiasm and discovery about ourselves and our music,” Perez said.

Los Lobos plays at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. Tickets are $35 in advance and $38 the day of the show and may be purchased at the Riverwalk Center box office or by calling (970) 547-3100.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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