Mas Y Mas
A stripped-down Los Lobos serenade Napa
By Gabe Meline
No working band in the country today is as capable, during a single performance, of seamlessly stretching itself both as far from its roots and then as deep into its heritage as Los Lobos. Each time I've seen the East L.A. band, they've interrupted a loud, propulsive set of unpredictable rock 'n' roll with an acoustic segment of traditional Latin folksongs, dropping a quick reminder of just how far the band has traveled, creatively, to become the protocultural psychedelic thunderhorse of magisterial rock power that it is today. In addition to adding musical context, these short acoustic excursions are completely rewarding on their own merit, which is why it's so thrilling when Los Lobos play a select few all-acoustic shows. A stop in Napa on Jan. 26 finds them playing traditional folkloric songs from Latin America alongside their own material.In 2005, the band self-released a live acoustic album, Acoustic en Vivo, which gives the best idea of what this weekend's show might contain. Fun-loving versions of Los Alegres De Teran's classic "Los Ojos de Pancha" and the Cuban traditional "Guantanamera" sit fluidly alongside the band's own stellar material, a highlight of which is "Maricela," with Steve Berlin's blistering sax work, from the band's second-greatest album, Colossal Head.
Of course, tunes from Kiko, widely regarded as Los Lobos' pinnacle, show up in the form of "Saint Behind the Glass" and "Two Janes," and approaching them in their new acoustic cloak, played with guitarrones, jaranas and bajo sextos, is like rediscovering one of America's greatest rock bands all over again for the first time.
Los Lobos perform acoustically on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Napa Valley Opera House. 1030 Main St., Napa. 8pm. $55. 707.226.7372.
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