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Archive for the ‘Los Lobos’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: LOS LOBOS-Tiny Desk Concert #926 (December 18, 2019).

One of my favoirte Christmas songs is “Donde Esta Santa Claus?” so I’m always pleased to hear someone play it (it’s not overplayed yet).  I didn’t realize that this Tiny Desk Concert was a Christmas themed one, so when Los Lobos opened with this song, I knew it had to go on Christmas Day.

The band called up tunes from the Latin holiday song book, straight from their recently released, first-ever Christmas album, Llegó Navidad, a bilingual collection of songs from across Latin America and the U.S.

Imagine my surprise to read this about my favorite Christmas song:

They kicked it off with an obscure novelty hit that was once popular in Latino households in the Southwest, “¿Dónde Está Santa Claus?” It was originally a lushly orchestrated affair that is now a “lowrider oldie.”

The percussion is in full effect on this song with Enrique “Bugs” Gonzalez on drums, Marcos Reyes on congas and Louie Perez on a washboard type scratcher.  The song features a cool baritone sax solo from keyboardist Steve Berlin and a little acoustic guitar solo from singer Cesar Rosas.

David Hidalogo on 12 string electric guitar takes lead vocals on the new album’s title cut, “Llegó Navidad.” The song

is actually a classic from the Fania Records catalog originally performed by the Puerto Rican composer and singer Ismael Rivera. Los Lobos retains its pan-Latin callout to holiday celebrations across Latin America, set to a slow burning montuno groove.

There’s some cool low notes from the baritone sax and Hidalo’s gentle voice over the top.

For the third song, “Christmas and You” Louie Perez plays a jarana and Hidalgo sings lead.  It’s interesting to me that I am more familiar with Rosas as the lead singer.  I wonder how many songs he actually sings.

The band adds a David Hidalgo and Louie Perez original to the Latin holiday songbook with “Christmas and You,” a plaintive ballad about desperate loss that we would easily call a carte vena (vein cutter). The great Mexican essayist Alma Guillermoprieto once wrote that it’s not a real Mexican party “until someone cries,” and this song does the trick.

A brief keyboard/bells solo from Berlin keeps the holiday spirit in the song.

For the final song “It’s Christmas Time In Texas,” Hidalgo picks up the accordion and the bouncy bass from Conrad Lozano makes this a fun polka style holiday song.

The party ends by sending everyone home, dancing with “It’s Christmas Time In Texas,” a song by the great Tex- Mex troubadour, Freddy Fender. It’s a Los Lobos scorcher, complete with accordion and good times that would get even abuelita dancing.

The Tiny Desk holiday shows are always fun, I wish there were more.

[READ: December 25, 2019] “A Hint for Next Christmas”

This year, S. ordered me The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my fourth time reading the Calendar.  I didn’t know about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh), but each year since has been very enjoyable.  Here’s what they say this year

The Short Story Advent Calendar is back! And to celebrate its fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to make the festivities even more festive, with five different coloured editions to help you ring in the holiday season.

No matter which colour you choose, the insides are the same: it’s another collection of expertly curated, individually bound short stories from some of the best writers in North America and beyond.

(This is a collection of literary, non-religious short stories for adults. For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.)

As always, each story is a surprise, so you won’t know what you’re getting until you crack the seal every morning starting December 1. Once you’ve read that day’s story, check back here to read an exclusive interview with the author.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

I’m pairing music this year with some Christmas songs that I have come across this year.

Yes, this is the creator of Winnie the Pooh.  I didn’t know he wrote essays, but I definitely want to read more after this.  This essay appeared in Milne’s 1920 collection If I May and it rings true almost 100 years later in nearly every way. (more…)

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deceSOUNDTRACK: LOS LOBOS-“The Circus Comes To Town” (1992).

indexI have heard Phish play this song many times.  I never would have guessed that it was Los Lobos.

The original is a gentle folk song, with a delightfully strained vocal.

For all of the multicultural musical approaches that Los Lobos takes, this song is really quite straightforward.  It’s simply a well written and beautifully sung song.  This whole album is full of songs just like it.  Highly recommended.

[READ: September 10, 2019] “‘The Book of Directions'”

This is a short Shouts & Murmurs piece which is pretty funny.

It begins by saying that the new publication, “The Book of Directions,” looks at the oral tradition of direction-giving.  Examples include: “Go two block down the street, make a left, turn right at the light, and you’ll see the sign.”

The author of the book is “the French hothead Pierre Trout.”

So really this piece is about making fun of the French for their desire to not be helpful when tourists are lost. Trout finds American direction-giving to be amazing, elegant and, of all things, helpful. (more…)

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indexSOUNDTRACK: LOS LOBOS “Sabor a Mi” (1978)

220px-Los_Lobos_del_Este_de_Los_Angeles_coverThe other song from the Los Lobos debut album that nick Hornby mentioned was ” “Sabor a Mí” a beautiful acoustic bolero.

The rhythm is slow and stately, with nice use of an upright bass.  The guitars sound great–very clean and precise with no fuzz or distortion or loose sloppy playing.  This is respectful playing of a traditional song.

The vocals are by Cesar Rosas and some are wonderfully romantic sounding.  The solos are really great too.

I’m glad that Los Lobos branched out into so much diverse music over their career, but their early traditional songs are lovely.

[READ: September 15, 2019] “The Most Basic Plan”

In this story a man has traveled to Florida to be with his dying mother.

There was no question that she was dying and he had made appointments at local funeral homes.  He was itching to get away–he didn’t want to be late on Friday, as it would need to be rescheduled on Monday.

He fed her ice chips–it was all he could do for her.  He looked through her things–her photos–and remembered the past.  But the present could not be halted.

He asked the young woman on duty to look after his mother.  She was new and was clearly afraid of his dying mother.  She resented him and he assured her that he would be back soon.

He had rented a car at the airport, but once he got out into the warm air, he returned the car and requested a convertible Miata.  It was overpriced and, given the occasion, maybe a little festive, but he appreciated it. (more…)

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april2301SOUNDTRACK: LOS LOBOS-“Guantanamera” (1978).

220px-Los_Lobos_del_Este_de_Los_Angeles_coverI never listened to much Los Lobos, although their recent tiny Desk Concert opened my eyes to the,

This review from Hornby made me want to check out some of their music.  I’m not interested in their rock n’ roll songs, but I am quite interested in their Mexicali and more diverse songs.

Their debut album was mostly traditional songs.  I hadn’t heard their take on “Guantanamera,” a song that is in my consciousness, although I’m not sure from where, exactly.  I know the Pete Seeger version, but that can’t be the one I am most familiar with, right?

The Los Lobos version is, surprisingly, slower and a but less catchy that the version I am familiar with.  Although I imagine their version is more accurate.  Los Lobos has three lead singers.  It’s interesting that the guy with the fewest lead vocal songs, bassist Conrad Lozano is the lead singer here.

[READ: September 10, 2019] “The Entertainers”

This essay is about Los Lobos and the art of box sets.

The turn of the century was a pretty big time for the box set.  I have too many of them myself.

You get home busting with anticipation, and sit down to listen to the first half-dozen songs of a beloved artist’s recording career, and to read the weighty accompanying essay and then, somewhere along the line, a vague disappointment kicks in.  You become irritated that your favorite song is represented only by a demo or a live recording or an alternate mix that omits the horns.  Pretty soon, you find that you’re playing only the last few tracks on the second CD–tracks that you probably already own.  A few weeks later, you realize, guiltily, that the fourth CD has not yet been removed from the box and that it never will be.

This is a bit excessive in my experience, but the general tenor is spot on. (more…)

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skin SOUNDTRACK: LOS LOBOS-Tiny Desk Concert #90 (November 10, 2010).

loslobosI don’t really know all that much about Los Lobos.  I frankly got sick of them because of “La Bamba” (which came out 20 years ago!) and I don’t think I’d ever heard much else by them.  So I wound up enjoying this Tiny Desk much more than I anticipated.

The one big problem with this tiny desk is that the drummer is playing one of those plastic mail bins and it sounds awful.  Especially on the first song.  I think anything would have had a better drum sound than that.

I really enjoyed the first song “Burn It Down.”  It has a propulsive minor key structure and an excellent bass line.  I would never have guessed it was Los Lobos, but that may be because it’s not the singer I most associate with them (he sings on the next two songs).

“Yo Canto” is a cumbia, sung by a different guy (in Spanish) who also plays lead guitar.  The mail bin sounds better on this song because of the placement (and use of) a cowbell.  The singer sounds amazing.  I rather like the riff that underlines the song.

Those two songs are from their then latest album.  And the band sounds really good all these years on.

The final song is “Don’t Worry Baby.”  It has the same singer as the middle song (this time in English) although it is a pretty standard blues song that I found just okay.  It also features a bunch of saxophone.  I didn’t realize that it was from their major label debut in 1984! and is something of a classic.

So three songs, all of them enjoyable, from a band I didn’t really think I’d enjoy.  The funniest part is just before the show stops and someone asks, “Okay, where’s the beer?”

[READ: October 1, 2015] How to Skin a Lion

This book sounded awesome–I love outdated things that we can laugh about now (because I’m a superior git, of course).

But this book proved to be not all that funny.  The outmoded advice wasn’t treated comically exactly (well, some was), rather it was looked at rather seriously–some as good advice that still stands, some as crazy advice that is way outmoded and a few things that are, yes, just comical.

Cock-Starkey (insert joke here) says that this is a collection of materials from the vast archives of the British Library.  It culls from medieval manuscripts, Victorian manuals and self-help guides from the early 20th century.  She explains that the book aims to reveal the secrets of lost arts, remind us of how modern conveniences have changed our lives, recall the complexities of etiquette, highlight changing attitudes and beliefs and furnish us with still useful tips and guidance.

Although she also points out that readers should be advised that some pieces of advice contained herein have stood the test of time better than others. (more…)

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