Related article from The Cincinnati Post, 08-Dec-84:
Los Lobos offer spicy musical stew
By Larry Nager
Post Staff Reporter
Los Lobos is America's best unknown rock 'n' roll band. In the 1984 Grammy Awards, Los Lobos took home one of the few awards Michael Jackson didn't. The Mexican-American quintet won for best Mexican-American song with "Anselma," from its debut EP, "...And a Time to Dance." But, since that category wasn't televised, practically no one heard about it. It wasn't the first time Los Lobos ("The Wolves," for those of you who flunked freshman Spanish) hasn't gotten its due. When the producers of the low-budget 1981 film "Chan is Missing" used Los Lobos' songs on the soundtrack, they neglected to inform - or pay - the group. The producers of 1982's black comedy "Eating Raoul" did mention Los Lobos' musical contribution in the film's credits. Again, however, practically no one noticed. That soon may change. Los Lobos' first LP, "How Will the Wolf Survive," has just been released. One of 1984's best releases, the album is irresistible Pan-American dance music - a potent blend of New Orleans R&B, rockabilly and authentic Norteno (northern Mexican-style) music, complete with accordion and bajo sexto, a kind of 12-string guitar.
Cincinnatians will be able to sample this spicy mixture when Los Lobos appears tonight at Metro, 616 Ruth Lyons Lane. Speaking from a recent tour stop, Cesar Rosas, the group's guitarist and bajo sexto player, explained Los Lobos' unique musical fusion. "We formed this band in 1973 to play Mexican folk music. We were rock 'n' roll musicians before that, but we got tired of all the stuff on the radio - all those fabricated rock 'n' roll bands - so we would sit around and play this folk music." That was about the time Ry Cooder was mixing Tex-Mex, blues and R&B in his Chicken Skin Revue, a band that included legendary Norteno accordionist Flaco Jimenez. Los Lobos took a more traditional approach, playing what Rosas calls "folk music of the hills, Indian music." However, "after playing that stuff for seven years, we got a little bit tired of it," Rosas said. "After we'd do tours, we'd go and play in restaurants as just listening music for people who were dining.
"All of a sudden we found ourselves pigeonholed as a background band. But, in these Mexican restaurants, people at the bar would get drunk and say 'Hey, don't you guys know any rock 'n' roll music?' "So one Friday night I brought my electric guitar to the gig and we started playing some Beatles songs and stuff. "Then we brought in the bajo sexto and incorporated it with a snare drum. It was sort of like the Stray Cats, but we were playing Norteno music." Having found the sound they were looking for, said Rosas, "we got fired for playing too loud."
But by then - 1980 - a back-to-the-roots movement was taking place in the Los Angeles rock 'n' roll scene. Groups such as the Blasters and Rank 'n' File were blending country music, blues and rockabilly, and the members of Los Lobos saw a place for their new, unique sound. "We figured that our music is just as American as anyone else's," said Rosas.
Los Lobos will perform Monday night at Metro, 616 Ruth Lyons Lane, downtown, 421-3760. Tickets are $5 at the door; showtime is 10 p.m.