Los Lobos comes full circle in California rock

“La Bamba” band brings its American Chicano rock to the Visalia Fox Theatre on Oct. 10


VISALIA – More than three decades have passed since Los Lobos released their debut album, “Just Another Band from East L.A.” Since then they’ve repeatedly disproven that title, as Los Lobos isn’t “just another” anything, but rather a band that has consistently evolved artistically while never losing sight of their humble roots.

Best known for the smash Spanish hit “La Bamba” from the soundtrack of the 1987 film, Los Lobos were already East L.A. neighborhood legends, Sunset Strip regulars and a Grammy Award winning band (Best Mexican-American/Tejano Music Performance) by the time they recorded their major label debut How Will The Wolf Survive? in 1984. Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, Los Lobos will perform live at the Visalia Fox Theater on Thursday, Oct. 10.

Although the album’s name and title song were inspired by a National Geographic article about real life wolves in the wild, the band—David Hidalgo, Louie Perez, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano and Steve Berlin—saw parallels with their struggle to gain mainstream rock success while maintaining their Mexican roots. Perez, the band’s drummer, once called their powerhouse mix of rock, Tex-Mex, country, folk, R&B, blues and traditional Spanish and Mexican music “the soundtrack of the barrio.”

The group came together when Hidalgo, the band’s lead vocalist/guitarist (whose arsenal includes accordion, percussion, bass, keyboards, melodic, drums, violin and banjo) met Perez at Garfield High in East LA and started a garage band. Rosas, who plays guitar and mandolin, had his own group, and Lozano launched a power trio.

They made a tape and gave it to the guys in The Blasters, a more mainstream rock band that invited Los Lobos to open for them. The concert was at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, marking the first time Los Lobos performed on the west side of the Los Angeles River, the dividing line between LA and East LA. The band was so impressive that Steve Berlin, who was with The Blasters at the time, decided to become the saxophonist, flutist and harmonica player for Los Lobos. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, the band opened for acts such as Bob Dylan, U2 and Grateful Dead. In 2015, the band was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In December 2012, the band met at The City Winery in New York and recorded an engaging 12-song set over two nights to celebrate the band’s legacy of freewheeling and unpredictable live shows. The recordings, called “Disconnected in New York City” features fresh interpretations of songs from throughout their three decade recording career, including their first ever live recording of “La Bamba,” their worldwide pop crossover hit from the 1987 film which reached #1 on the U.S. and UK singles chart and whose video won a 1988 MTV Music Video Award.

Looking back at the historical and cultural sweep of the band, Lozano sees the release of Disconnected In New York City as Los Lobos coming full circle to its acoustic and Mexican folk roots.

Perico Productions and the Visalia Fox Theater will present Los Lobos on Oct. 10. Doors open at 7 p.m. with show time at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $35 to $45 and are available on eventbrite.com. For more information, visit www.foxvisalia.org.

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