An Evening with the Multi Grammy Award Winning Latin music group, Los Lobos
It’s hard to believe that in 2023, Grammy winning music group, Los Lobos celebrates its 50th anniversary! I remember being a teenager when they became mainstream popular with their version of “La Bamba“. They had been performing long before then, already earning a Grammy and gaining commercial success. They just weren’t on my radar at that point. “La Bamba” was the first time I really heard a Latin song played over and over again on mainstream radio, television and in clubs. All of my friends wanted to know what the words meant to this catchy song that was so fun to dance to. Over time, I’ve listened to their music extensively and enjoyed the journey they’ve taken with their music. Much of it speaks to their Mexican roots and some of their struggles to keep their feet in both Mexican and American culture.
This February, I had the pleasure to see their performance at the Paramount Theater in Peekskill, NY as well as meet them backstage.
The venue was packed and theater style seating didn’t stop the audience from getting up out of their seats to mingle in the aisles while singing and dancing to their favorite songs.
In early ’70’s East LA, in their teens and twenties, original members, David Hidalgo, Louie Pérez, Cesar Rosas and Conrad Lozano began their musical journey. They made their start playing plenty of local weddings and dances with more traditional Mexican style music.
In 1984, the group added saxophonist, Steve Berlin. That same year the band released their album, How Will the Wolf Survive which catapulted them into the mainstream.
The next pivotal moment was in 1987 when the movie, “La Bamba“, the story of Ritchie Valens came out on the big screen. Los Lobos covered Valen’s memorable song, La Bamba and it topped the music charts.
In 1988, they released La Pistola y El Corazon, a tribute to Tejano and mariachi music which took home a Grammy for Best Mexican-American Performance.
Since then, the band has produced many more studio albums and contributed to numerous tribute albums and film soundtracks.
They’ve also kept their Grammy winning streak going with the song “Mariachi Suite” from 1995’s film, Desperado earning a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Most recently they won again with their 2021 “Native Sons” album which is a tribute to their home city. It’s an album of cover songs dedicated to the music of Los Angeles. This won them the 2022 Grammy award for Best Americana Album.
With their ability to bridge traditional Mexican folk music and American pop and rock music they’ve become so iconic. Their music is an interesting mix of influences like folk, zydeco, rock & roll, blues, Tex-Mex, and traditional Mexican styles such as cumbias and norteños. Their blend of truly resonates with my own Mexican heritage.
My parents both grew up in southern Texas in the Rio Grand Valley Area and loved their Tejano music. I can remember watching my parents dance effortlessly to this oddly timed music in their younger years. My dad twirling my mom around the dance floor and everyone’s eyes on them. They were literally the Latino Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. My dad shared his love of this music with my siblings and I growing up. I can recall many evenings listening to my dad play the accordian to his Tejano (or Banda) music and also listening along with him to his favorite American rock music of the times like The Animals, The Doors, and Three Dog Night. We would play albums and eight tracks to all of these music styles and somehow it blended and shaped my musical taste. At weddings and quinceaneras we would dance in circle cumbias (this is a a very regional type of dance) to Tejano music as well. There were many late nights listening to family and friends playing instruments and singing with their interjections of emotional and heartfelt gritos.
Attending the show with my husband and local NY friends, was such a treat as it really recalled many of those moments of my childhood and teenage years. After the performance, we met the band backstage bearing gifts. We treated them to a favorite NY sweet treat, a box of black and white cookies (you know if you know what these are). The guys appreciated the sugar fix and talked shop about music and their gear. It was a nice way for them to chill out after an exciting show before they headed out for a late night “dinner”.
The band will be on tour for the rest of 2023 in celebration of their anniversary and I highly recommend you put your dancing shoes on and get ready for a good time.
Check out some highlights from the evening right here.