Los Lobos: Brand New Song and Dance

by Rebecca LaPole

Steve Berlin, saxophonist and keyboardist for Los Lobos, took time out from working with a couple Colorado bands; Leftover Salmon, and Greensky Bluegrass to talk with Scene about Fiesta Mexico Americana, a multi-media production of film, song and dance coming to the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins for a one-night only presentation on Wednesday, January 27 at 7:30pm.

He has been part of the Los Lobos family for over four decades, almost since the day they began in an L.A. garage in 1973. “It’s hard to do anything for as long as we’ve done it without forming some sort of familial bonds,” Berlin said. “As intensely as we [perform], we keep it that way by not seeing much of each other when we’re not on the road. Keeps it healthy and fresh.”

Los Lobos won three Grammys and is internationally known thanks to the worldwide smash single and title track from the movie, “La Bamba.” The band still has all their original members: David Hidalgo, Louie Perez, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano and Berlin who said, “Grammys are very nice and pleasant, but it really hasn’t changed our lives too much. No one had heard of us before La Bamba, but once that bubble burst, we were back playing the same places. It was like a two and half year dream, with the lasting result that everyone has heard of us and the movie.”

Fiesta Mexico Americana also features the sensational dancers of Ballet Folklorico Mexicano (BFM), a family run dance company that includes founder, Carlos Moreno Samaniego, his wife, Angelina Garcia and their son, Carlos Garcia Moreno.

Berlin said, “This is a brand new thing for all of us, proposed to us by them, and is really one of the few things we haven’t done yet. The tour starts in about a month, in Davis, California, and as far as I know, we’re going to play a little bit, they will dance, we’ll do some together, then finish off the show with us playing.” At press time, rehearsals hadn’t actually started yet, but Berlin is sure by the time they are in Fort Collins, the show will be polished.

BFM’s mission since 1967 has been “to empower our community and to educate the general public by providing a greater understanding and appreciation for Mexican culture and folklore through music, dance and traditional art forms.” Los Lobos continues to empower the community with their music as well and it has not gone unnoticed. They have been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Although they were not accepted this year, the honor still stands. Berlin said, “When you’ve been doing this for so long and at a high enough level that people want to reward you with stuff, it’s very exciting. Speaking for myself, it’s hard to imagine being on that list with people that I’m a huge fan of. It’s hard to describe that us and Cheap Trick and Janet Jackson are in the same breath. I hope it doesn’t sink in, it’s too much to comprehend.”

For more info: loslobos.org, balletfolkloricomexicano.org, lctix.com.