Home > Uncategorized > Music is best when it’s shared…

Music is best when it’s shared…

Music is best when it’s shared. Last night I took my daughter and my niece, both 16, to see Los Lobos at a local casino.

photoThe girls are the best kind of music lovers. They have open ears. If it’s good, they’ll come along for the ride.

They liked what they heard. “One Night in America”. “Kiko and the Lavender Moon”. “I Got Loaded”. “We like old dudes who rock” they said. Plus my daughter thought guitarist Cesar Rosas was cute in a cuddly uncle sort of way. Despite being, by far, the youngest ones in the crowd, they fit in. They belonged.

Los Lobos has always been one of my favorite acts. A criminally underrated band of brothers from East LA who can seemingly play anything, and frequently do. Rock, blues, blasts of punk and soul and Tex-Mex….and some gorgeous spanish language laments all tossed into a giant salad bowl and played at a blistering volume. If Robbie Robertson was from Mexico instead of Canada, this is what the Band would have sounded like.

IMG_0654Back in the mid 1980s my older brother gave me LPs of “How Will the Wolf Survive” and “By the Light of the Moon”. I’ve been hooked ever since. And while the band is revered by both their peers and serious music critics….aside from a fluke cover of a Ritchie Valens song…..they’ve never had much mainstream success. The leading “rock” station in our area never mentioned the show at all (although they were incessantly running ads for a AC/DC tribute band playing down the road)….and there were reams of empty chairs all around us as we settled in. From what I could see, the place looked about 70% full. And this despite a “buy one get one free” blitz by the venue in the days leading in.

I first saw the band live in the early 90s….on a double bill with NRBQ in Virginia. The drum riser looked like it would collapse with the weight of the Budweiser cans….and the band came out, turned up to 11, and sounded glorious. I can remember Al Anderson, the corpulent NRBQ guitarist, watching their set from the side of the stage while gorging himself on a plate of baked beans. The bands joined forced for a delirious “Shake Rattle and Role” during the encores and when the show finished the crowd staggered to their cars with goofy grins and ringing ears.

Last night was a bit of a mixed bag. A decent portion of the crowd were obviously casino guests with comped tickets….and they wandered in (some with walkers and electric wheel-chairs) more out of curiosity than anything else. I couldn’t imagine most of them sticking around when things got heavy and indeed, early on when the band sludged through the Cream song “Politician” as a tribute to the recently departed Jack Bruce, I saw some of them exiting the hall looking very worried indeed. But the stalwarts remained…..and we all did our best to dance while seated….as the crowd was amazingly sedentary. Luckily the chairs had a lot of give in them, and the three of us rocked back and forth like the car scene from Wayne’s World, especially during “Chuco’s Cumbia”, when my niece did a kick ass sedentary salsa.

When the band tore into “Don’t Worry Baby” I sensed a momentum shift. In ones and twos and threes people were standing up and dancing along the walls (an extremely polite crowd….nobody wanted to obstruct anybody’s view)….but that was that. The set was over. But we still had the encores. I was grinning to myself….and I asked the girls to stand with me over on the side. I had a feeling. There were too many obvious Dead Heads in the crowd to not throw them a jam bone.

And so when the band came back out and tore into a medley of Dead staples “Not Fade Away” and “Bertha”….decorum, thankfully, broke down. Well, sort of . This was, after all, a crowd of very sober baby boomers, many of whom were armed with free tickets. At first security folks in the hall seemed baffled….and when a girl who looked like Joni Mitchell circa 1968 jumped onstage, their first instinct was to gently escort her off. But bassist Conrad Lozano, grinning madly, waved them off and the lady continued her wild patchouli dance….and thus kickstarted the mild chaos. When the familiar chords of “Bertha” rang out….the damn broke. My girls just said “let’s go” and were off……dead center in front of guitarist David Hidalgo, shaking their 16 year old tail feathers. I could not have been more proud. I swear I saw Cesar Rosas notice them and break into a huge grin.

photobombEventually I too made my way up…..and was promptly photo-bombed by Hidalgo. Well, not really but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I can’t remember having this much fun at a rock and roll show. The band was into the finale of “Good Lovin'” and “La Bamba” now. I turned around to see who’s view I was obliterating. A guy was sitting in the front row, maybe 80 years old. Smile as wide as a Bob Marley joint. He gave me a thumbs up and mouthed the unmistakable words “keep dancing”….so I did.

The band smiled and waved and thanked us all. And it was over.

The girls had as much fun as I did. My niece was a little disappointed that she didn’t get to hear “I Got Loaded” (I was desperately hoping for “Peace”….didn’t get it) so when we got to the car that’s the first song I put on. There is nothing better than that post-concert glow. The ride home is never too long.

When I got home I noticed 2 things. On the mirror in my daughter’s room was a picture of me and her…maybe 12 years ago. Her on my lap looking adorable. My hair not grey. She had dug it out and placed it in a position of honor.

And her facebook page. Her main photo had been updated. It was now one of me and her….taken a few weeks back. The caption said “the only man I’ll ever need”.

And if that wasn’t the perfect ending to a great night….

In a bit..


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