Monday, March 10, 2014

Los Lobos in Shirley

Continuing the jaw-dropping list of major acts the Bull Run Restaurant has been able to pull in, was Los Lobos!!  This was another case of getting tickets as soon as they went on sale, and we weren't able to snag the front table but were pretty close.  These guys could sell out and rock a much larger place, but somehow they landed at the Bull Run and we were delighted.  The show sold out quickly and the room was packed; Cesar Rosas kept on saying, "Where are we?" and no one answered him.  It's hard to explain where Shirley is in a short phrase.

Los Lobos has been around since I graduated from high school, which is saying a lot.  To see a band with this pedigree in the Bull Run was thrilling.  Sarah and I met Scott and Michelle at table 93, and made friends with the other denizens of course.  The room filled up quickly and the crowd of happy people taxed the wait-staff.  Los Lobos came on a half hour late but that wasn't bad in this case.

Geez, they're good; they could play the phone book and turn it into a funky rocker.  Hidalgo is a fantastic guitarist, reminding me of Jorma Kaukonen in the way his meaty hands wring sounds out of his instrument, and of a Hendrix or Garcia in his facility and his attack.  Rosas also really impressed me, not so much with his vocals, but with his inventive musicality.  And more times than I can count I thought, "What is that?" and it was Louie Pérez just taking off with the song.  And Enrique Gonzalez played the best cow bell I've ever heard ... no sarcasm intended!

They really divide into two halves in a live performance, which play off each other and are thrilling when they unite.  Conrad Lozano on electric bass, Gonzalez on kit drums, and Rosas on rhythm guitar hold down the funk and the groove, while on the other side of the stage (from our perspective), Pérez on tenor guitar, Hidalgo on ripping lead guitar, and Steve Berlin on keyboards and sax milk the melody for all it's worth and add a healthy heaping of space.  Hidalgo also surprised me with a couple of killer songs on accordion and Berlin played some soulful flute.  They had the crowd from the first note and did a long, long set.

They didn't hit up many of their "hits," which was fine with me.  They did Mas y Mas towards the end, which is possibly my favorite song of theirs, it's got their funk and their brightness.  Not many (any?) covers in the set, but when they came out for an encore they certainly showed their chops.  They did incredible covers of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away, Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing, and then the Grateful Dead's Bertha.  We all had to move, really had to move!!

Phew, what an experience!  Who's next at the Bull Run??

Sarah pictures at


  1. Um, I think Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and Howlin' Wolf's "300 Pounds of Joy" qualify as covers.

  2. Forgot about Mr. Fantasy, didn't realize that was a Howlin' Wolf song, thanks!