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Los Lobos from groups like Los Lonely Boys and Santana. The band’s at-times overly exuberant lead guitarist, Steve Alvarez from Odessa, dominated the set, generally to good effect. Before going on, Los Lobos posed for photos with the sponsors. I asked band member Louie Perez to what did he attribute the group’s longevity. “Our creditors wouldn’t have it any other way,” he quipped. Turning serious, he noted that they had grown up together. “We were all friends from the same neighborhood,” he said. “We didn’t get our bass player out of the phonebook.” They started out playing old-timey Mexican music and then gravitated to rock and roll. The band is known for sterling musicianship, mastery of multiple instruments, and eclectic tastes. A Los Lobos set is as likely to include an Allman Brothers cover as Guantanamera, and the band can nail both with equal skill and bravado. Through the years, critics and fellow musicians have acclaimed the wolves, but popular support has lagged. Their biggest hit was La Bamba, which they covered for the soundtrack of a biopic about Latin rock pioneer and martyr-to-the-cause Ricardo Steven Valenzuela, better known as Ritchie Valens. Characteristically for Los Lobos, they then refused to sell out. Their next album was an exquisitely crafted collection of acoustic folk songs from various regions of Mexico called La pistola y el corazon. Perez noted that Los Lobos’ fan base is 90 percent Anglo and that the band has had difficulty crossing over. Yet at concerts the audiences are starting to reflect the demographic change occurring in America. Where it is most in evidence is in Anglo-dominated areas like Vermont or Virginia. In the past where there might have been one Hispanic at a show, he’s now seeing five or 10. Maybe there will be an uptick, Perez muses, once they “put down the drawbridge and call off the crocodiles.” The band opened the show by inviting a young woman from the audience up to the stage. “Viva la Independencia,” she shouted. “iViva Mexico!” Cesar Rosas, in a black silk shirt with black jeans and his trademark sunglasses, chimed in, “iY que viva la raza! “This is the first time we’ve ever been in West Texas,” he said. “Que viva West Texas! It took a few songs to warm up. They introduced the third tune as coming from “El Fernando Valle” and then launched into the Valens’ hit “Come on, Let’s Go.” David Hidalgo tore it up on guitar while bassist Conrad Lozano beamed with pleasure. Then Steve Berlin, wearing shades and a porkpie hat, let loose with a fiery saxophone solo. Berlin is an accomplished music producer as well as the honorary Chicano of the band, having joined Los Lobos in the mid-80s. Suddenly the music had a smoky, roadhouse feel, and Los Lobos sounded like one of the better bar bands on the planet. The band delved into a deep exploration of Latin rhythms with a song called “Chuco’s Cumbia.” Rosas then slowed the tempo down to croon “Sabor a Mi.” The song by Alvaro Carrillo is a great example of the wonderfully exaggerated lyrical landscape of much of Los Lobos’ music from Mexico. “Yo no soy nada. sang soulfully, vamping a bit. “Yo no tengo vandidad. The band played on rented instru OCTOBER 5, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27