Los Lobos at MacArthur Park, Los Angeles

Free is one of my favorite words, and Los Lobos are one of my favorite bands. Combine these two elements, and I made sure I was in the front row for the quasi-homecoming show by East L.A.’s greatest musical export at the Levitt Pavilion in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park on September 19.

(l-r) Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, drummer Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez, Louie Pérez
(l-r) Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, drummer Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez, Louie Pérez

My wife and I had a great spot between singer/guitarists Cesar Rosas and Louie Pérez, with bassist Conrad Lozano—grinning ear-to-ear, and dressed like a UPS driver—in front of us. Perfection.

Yes, of course Los Lobos played “La Bamba”—it was a lengthy encore, a mash-up with the Young Rascals’ “Good Lovin'”—and they also did Ritchie Valens’ other rocker, “Come On, Let’s Go.” But Los Lobos also dusted off tunes from every part of their long and varied career, including “Kiko and the Lavender Moon,” “La Pistola y el Corazon,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Volver, Volver,” and “Will the Wolf Survive?”

There were no ballads. I would have loved to hear “Saint behind the Glass,” which they did when I saw them in downtown L.A. a few months ago, but I got a mind-blowing consolation, a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Bertha.” It’s actually the only song I know by that awful band, and I have never heard their version. In that vein, if I had one criticism of Los Lobos’ show, it’s that they jammed quite a bit on many of the songs. If they could tighten things up a little, add some numbers to the set list, that would be appreciated. Still, we had a wonderful time overall, and if there’s any other band I would love to follow from gig to gig it would have to be these guys.

Singer David Hidalgo, not the most talkative chap, tossed in a plug for their new album by introducing the title track, Gates Of Gold. And he also referenced a new book about the band, Los Lobos: Dream in Blue, written by my former colleague Chris Morris. I look forward to reading it when I get $35 worth of goods in my Amazon shopping cart.

For more pictures, go to my Tumblr page at www.deangoodman.tumblr.com.


NOTE: Completely unrelated to the above item, my gossipy rock bio Strange Days: The Adventures of a Grumpy Rock ‘n’ Roll Journalist in Los Angeles is available here. For more info, go to strangedaysbook.com

Copyright © 2015 by Dean Goodman. PLEASE DO NOT CUT AND PASTE THE WHOLE THING

Dean Goodman