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Old Home Night With Los Lobos

October 09, 2000|STEVE HOCHMAN

"This goes out to East L.A.," said Los Lobos' David Hidalgo, introducing the Mexican heartbreak standard "Volver Volver" during the band's show at the Greek Theatre on Saturday.

Well, every song the band played was for--and of--the unique cultural stew that is East L.A, from the traditional Veracruz folk song opener to the raucous encore of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl," as well as the rancheras, soul ballads, psychedelic rock and distinctive amalgams that came in between.

The band is a living celebration of these far-reaching but firm roots, but never more so than in the more-or-less annual Greek concerts it's been giving for more than a decade. And this show outdid them all. Marking the reissue of its first album, "Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles (Just Another Band From East L.A.)," a 1977 collection of Mexican and Mexican-American folk tunes, the group started with a 40-minute acoustic set, with founders Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louie Perez and Conrad Lozano joined on some songs by folk-harp player Fermin Herrera and on others by two trumpeters.

As usual at the Greek shows, much of the audience was family and friends who remember the band playing that music at weddings and backyard parties. That neighborhood feeling extended Saturday onto the stage. Little Willie G. of the '60s group Thee Midniters came out to sing two soulful songs. Later, for its own explosive rocker "Mas y Mas," Los Lobos brought out the next generation in members of opening acts Los Otros and Quetzal as well as Ozomatli and Los Villains--the latter including sons of Perez and Hidalgo--for a frenetic jam.

With pop culture still struggling with the fact that "Latin" doesn't mean just one thing, Los Lobos reminds that the L.A. Chicano community alone is a vibrant, ever-evolving culture made up of traditions brought from many locales. And the band didn't even play its signature song, "Will the Wolf Survive?" No matter--that question was answered years ago.

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