Los Lobos | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Los Lobos 

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More than 20 years into their career Los Lobos radically revamped their approach to roots rock, twisting it inside out and becoming America's best rock band. This year's brilliant Colossal Head (Warner Brothers) got a creative jolt from the Latin Playboys side project, and now it seems the east LA quintet can do no wrong, even when performing on a package tour headlined by a bunch of post-Grateful Dead projects, the Furthur Festival. Certainly the band's Latin grooves and the post-Carlos Santana guitar slinging (which helps lift the rhythmic mother lode that is "Mas y Mas") will fit in with the myopic panculturalism espoused by Jerry's kids (case in point: former Dead drummer Mickey Hart's Mystery Box delivers seamless world-beat pop that smothers ethnicity with studio gloss). But the many styles and influences that matter-of-factly fill Los Lobos's vibrant tunes are only matched in scope by the band's drive to progress. Sure, the music makes you feel good, but with the production team of Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake Los Lobos have toyed with weird stylistic fusions to make a thrilling, innovative-sounding record that still lets the tunes resonate. There's David Hidalgo's soulful, easy croon on the insinuating "Little Japan"; there's the swaying conjunto of "Maricela"; and there's the acceptance-as-salvation celebration of "Life Is Good." Remarkable musicians all, the members of Los Lobos seem to have no limitations. They'll even share a bill with Bruce Hornsby. Saturday, 4 PM, Alpine Valley Music Theatre, Highway D and Highway 120, East Troy, Wisconsin; 559-1212. Sunday, 4 PM, New World Music Theatre, I-80 and Harlem, Tinley Park; 559-1212 or 708-614-1616.

PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Robert Sebree.

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