Los Lobos Wake Up 'Aztlan'

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

Few people would expect an act that has been together for almost 30 years, sold millions of albums, and won three Grammy Awards to doubt itself. But when the members of Los Lobos -- hardly just another band from East Los Angeles -- gathered to record their first album since 1999's "This Time," multi-instrumentalist Louie Perez admits: "It was almost as though [we had to ask ourselves], 'Do we still know how to do this? Can we still do this?'"

The answer is a resounding yes, as evidenced by "Good Morning Aztlan," released June 4 via Mammoth/Hollywood.

The quintet's initial hesitance as recording began last summer at the house of guitarist Cesar Rosas is understandable. The tragic murder of Rosas' wife, though not mentioned, is certainly there when Perez says, "A lot of stuff has gone on since the last studio record. After all of that, it was a little peculiar going back to this work."

Recording at Rosas' studio -- not the one in Hollywood that they had used for more than a decade -- was one of several decisions geared to "reassemble all of this. It's good for all of us," Perez says. It was also mutually agreed not to work with longtime collaborators Tchad Blake and Mitchell Froom. When recording resumed last September, legendary British producer John Leckie came aboard.

"We moved all the furniture around," Perez continues, "but it's the same house. We realized that if anything's going to change, it's got to come from us." Relating the vibe to that surrounding 1992's acclaimed "Kiko," Perez notes, "We were definitely going into another chapter, and when you move into the next chapter, you almost have to forget what happened in the last episode."

"Good Morning Aztlan" stands with the best titles in Los Lobos' catalog, eclectic and graced with a lot of soul. From the driving, resolute title track to the more traditional "Malaque," the uplifting shuffle of "What in the World" to the poignant, folk-tinged "Tony and Maria" to the socially conscious resonance of "The Word," "Good Morning Aztlan" is compelling and heartfelt.

Los Lobos is out on a U.S. summer tour that visits Somerset, Wis., tomorrow (July 11), and will keep the band on the road through the end of September as they visit a mix of festivals, clubs, and amphitheaters.

Here are Los Lobos' upcoming tour dates:

July 11: Somerset, Wis. (River's Edge)
July 12: Denver (AT&T LoDo Music Festival)
July 19: Chicago (World's Largest Block Party)
July 20: Detroit (St. Andrews Hall)
July 23: New York (Irving Plaza)
July 24: Boston (Paradise Rock Club)
July 26: Baltimore (Artscape)
July 27: Washington, D.C. (9:30 Club)
July 30: Raleigh, N.C. (Museum Of Art)
July 31: Atlanta (Coca Cola Roxy Theatre)
Aug. 1: New Orleans (House Of Blues)
Aug. 3: Selma, Texas (Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre)
Aug. 4: The Woodlands, Texas (C.W. Mitchell Pavilion)
Aug. 10: Edmonton (Edmonton Folk Festival)
Aug. 14: Nashville (Uptown Mix)
Aug. 29: Sacramento, Calif. (California State Fair)
Sept. 1: Sparks, Nev. (John Ascuaga's Nugget)
Sept. 6: Fontana, Calif. (California Speedway)
Sept. 13: Telluride, Col. (Blues & Brews Festival)
Sept. 27: Sunland Park, N.M. (Sunland Park Racetrack)
Sept. 30: Bakersfield, Calif. (Kern County Fair)

Excerpted from the July 13, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.

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