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Playing a combination of their own songs and classic covers, Latin rockers Los Lobos had the baby boomers out of their seats and dancing at the Mondavi Center’s gorgeous 1800-seat Jackson Hall in Davis on Wednesday night.
Many genres are used to describe the music of “The Wolves” – roots rock, folk, Norteño, blues – and what Los Lobos does so well is blend the different styles to create a hybrid euphony that has given them a unique identity.
Essentially they started out 30 years ago in East Los Angeles with classic Mexican songs that were deceptively simple, added various styles of music and elevated the sound into music that has garnered the band three Grammy Awards.
The talented group dove into its set with the flamenco-styled guitar picking of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist David Hidalgo on “La Pistola y El Corazón” from the 1988 album of the same name. Each member's instrument was layered successively until the different sounds came together in head-nodding harmony, anchored by the walking bass lines of bassist/vocalist Conrad Lozano. Evident was a cohesiveness and intuitiveness that is only found when the same people in a band have been playing together for many years.
In between songs like “On Main Street,” “Tin Can Trust” and “Cumbia Raza,” the band took the opportunity to hawk its new album and mention that the musicians would be in the lobby after the show to sign it. Not something you see every day from artists or bands of this stature.
After a short intermission, Los Lobos went straight back to work, breaking out their version of Ritchie Valens’ “Come On, Let’s Go.” It was just what the house needed, and the newly engaged crowd started calling out names of songs they wanted to hear with one fan urging the band to "Rock out!"
The energetic second half of the set continued as Hidalgo brought out the accordion during the next song, “Kiko and The Lavender Moon,” and a couple of brave ladies in the audience felt the spirit, stood up and starting dancing. Another followed, then a couple more, and soon a domino effect had the entire house out of their seats and dancing awkwardly in place together.
A medley of The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and Santana’s “Oye Cómo Va” gave songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Louie Pérez a chance to put the guitar down and sit in on drums as the band segued into “Volver, Volver,” first made famous by “El Rey” of ranchera Vicente Fernandez.
The familiar opening guitar riff of “La Bamba” soon filled the air, and when Hidalgo turned the microphone to the audience, the true fans had no problem singing the entire Spanish-language chorus. A twist to the classic was added as The Rascals’ “Good Lovin” was woven in for good measure.
The band ended the lively show by pulling up several women (and a few men) from the audience to dance on stage with the musicians as they played their last song, and with an "Adios Amigo!" from Hidalgo, Los Lobos left the stage.
But as promised, the band soon reappeared in the lobby to pose for photos and sign autographs with the long line of fans who had gathered. When you consider that graciousness with the great music they put out, it’s easy to see why this band has such a strong following after all these years.