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Friday, August 3, 2012 - Page updated at 10:30 a.m.
Los Lobos tips hat to Jerry Garcia at stellar Zoo concert
By Charles R. Cross
Special to The Seattle Times
Concert Review |
It was about halfway through its Woodland Park Zoo show when Los Lobos's set took a surprising geographic turn. Up until that point, the band, which once released an album titled "Just Another Band From East L.A.," had played mostly acoustic Spanish songs. Tunes like "Yo Canto" were well received by the sold-out crowd, but not many in the Zoo field were dancing.
Then singer David Hidalgo reminded everyone of the significance of the date.
"Today would have been Jerry's seventieth birthday," Hidalgo said, meaning "Jerry Garcia," as if that weren't understood by most.
With that, the East L.A. band launched into a searing version of the Grateful Dead's "West L.A. Fadeaway" that shifted the tone of the night.
Hidalgo told the crowd Garcia had given his band much support over the years.
"Jerry was a fan of Los Lobos," the singer said.
You can see why. Like the Dead, Los Lobos plays free-form sets and crosses genres from song to song. Only stellar musicians can accomplish such quick turns, and Hidalgo and fellow vocalist Cesar Rosas are pros, as are the rest of the band members. And on songs like "Kiko and the Lavender Moon," they were pros at the top of their game.
By the time they ended their set with "Don't Worry Baby," the entire audience was dancing. The first encore of "La Bamba" was the most predictable moment of the show, but still fun.
Opener Steve Earle also played a solid set that straddled genres. Earle long ago left the Nashville machine, but he still played country hits like "Guitar Town," with stripped-down arrangements. His current band includes crack drummer Will Rigby (formerly of the dBs), and they were able to transform "Copperhead Road" into an Irish jig.
Earle's shows are often filled with political commentary, but other than one stab at George W. Bush, he made his point with music this night.
Earle came back and joined Los Lobos at the end of the night for "She's About a Mover." It's a swamp rock classic, originally done by the Sir Douglas Quintet, but on a clear night at the zoo it was the perfect lullaby.
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