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Los Lobos at City Winery Review – Waxing Psychedelic on its 41st Year

By Amy Munice

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From what felt like improvised seats in the very back of Chicago City Winery’s performance space, it was easy to get impressed by the diversity of the overflow crowd on the first of three sold-out performances by Los Lobos



We were a group that spanned punksters to Mayan mamas, with a fair share of seemingly well-heeled that seem to go to City Winery often to others whom one could imagine were making this outing THE outing of their year or at least the holiday season. 



Yes, there were more Hispanics in the crowd, as you’d expect with a Los Lobos performance.  Age-wise we seemed to hit every demographic of legal drinking age.  (Note:  Actually everyone is welcome at City Winery, non-drinking minors as well.)



In conversations before the concert everyone whom we spoke with noted that even though they were ardent Los Lobos fans, it was difficult to know exactly what to expect.  After all, over the 41 years that the group has been officially playing, their style has ranged from Mexican cancións, to blues, to rockabilly, back to cumbia, and hard, hard rock among other genres.



Rudy (aged 47) and Sylvia (aged 40) Ramirez came in from Berwyn for the concert.  Rudy explained, “I first heard Los Lobos about 25 years ago, following them when they were into Mexican music.  Sylvia knows them most through “La Bamba”.  I listen to them a lot on my Ipod and I’m trying to teach my kids about their music.  Their music goes from one extreme to another—first classic Mexican and then changing to Indy Rock.  I don’t know what to expect.  The last time we saw them was at Ravinia 12 years ago.  I had also seen them 13 years ago playing near LA, and that was more Mexican music.  My favorite Los Lobos songs are ‘Tears of God’ and ‘Saint Behind the Glass’.   I’m a construction manager so I have my Ipod with me all the time.”  Los Lobos figures large in his playset.



At another table were a father/son pair—Bob and Bobby from Chicago—enjoying a birthday gift of the concert to father Bob from his wife.  Bob too listens to Los Lobos often, going back to “La Bamba” days and listing his favorites as “Will the Wolf Survive” and also “Tears of God”.



But the fans in our midst who most got their wish for the evening were friends from the finance industry, Hank (originally from Memphis) and Christian (originally from Connecticut). 



Hank explained that they are both longtime fans and that they spend a lot of time sharing music, including a shared Grateful Dead tour about 30 years ago.  Hank said, “I want those giant psychedelic blues, when the big man gets into a bender, that’s what I want.”



By “big man” Hank was referring to David Hidalgo, who sings, plays guitar and accordion, although it was only during the encore when he brought out the accordion to play, among others, “La Bamba” while the crowd went wild.  Besides Hidalgo, Los Lobos band members include:  

Louie Perez- Drums, Guitars, Percussion, Vocals

Steve Berlin- Saxophone, Percussion, Flute, Midsax, Harmonica, Melodica

Cesar Rosas- Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin

Conrad Lozano- Bass, Guitarron, Vocals

Enrique "Bugs" Gonzalez - Drums/Percussion



Yes there were Spanish cumbia songs that brought couples out to dance in the hall edges.    There was also “Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes”, “Dream in Blue”, “Tears of God”, “Papa was a Rolling Stone”, “Burn it Down” and all together a dozen songs before the multi-song encore. 



Hidalgo’s bluesy electric guitar going on a riff in between refrains of “..just a  man of blood and bone..” reminded of Neil Young and Crazy Horse on a musical bender.



Did we hear right?  From the way back of the concert hall it sounded like Hidalgo made an offhand comment to someone up front that this was his last concert.  It was loud in the crowd and his words were difficult to make out. That end day will come but for the hundreds of enthusiastic Los Lobos fans in City Winery’s halls it will hopefully not be too soon.


City Winery in Chicago has concerts almost every night.  For a complete schedule visit the City Winery Chicago website.


City Winery

1200 West Randolph, Chicago

312- 733 - WINE



Photos:  Peter Kachergis unless otherwise indicated





Published on Dec 21, 2014

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