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Live Review: Long Live Los Lonely Boys

LLBLast night Grammy award-winning Tejano-inspired rock group Los Lonely Boys brought the funk, the blues, and the irresistible Latin rhythms to The ArtsCenter In short, they brought the “Rockpango.” This is the Spanglish word they invented for their 2011 album, which translates to “rock party” and indeed it was.

Watching the three Garza brothers perform at The ArtsCenter was a treat.  This intimate, non-profit venue allowed for a more personal experience and encouraged audience interaction with the artists.  A crowd of mixed ages was dancing in the aisles and singing along throughout the night to the band’s fusion of styles played with skillful depth.

The band kicked off the night with a couple of songs from their 2006 album Sacred. First was the upbeat “Roses,” which melted into the slow and sexy “I Never Met a Woman.”  Picking up the tempo again was the opening track of Rockpango, “American Idle” and a funky medley that incorporated elements of James Brown and Michael Jackson.  The band transitioned to the blues with a crowd-pleasing harmonica solo by guitarist Henry Garza in “I am the Man to Beat.”

Bassist brother Jojo Garza cracked jokes between songs, keeping the mood light before playing the poignant “Road to Nowhere” from their most recent album.  Scratchy guitar rifts and Ringo Garza’s spicy percussion brought the audience back up to speed with the infectious “Oye Mamacita” and kept us going with a rockabilly “Friday Night.”  The soothing reassurance of fidelity in “Nobody Else,” slowed it down one last time before letting the rock and roll dominate in “16 Monkeys” and a cover of the Spencer Davis Group tune “I’m a Man.”  They closed with a fan-favorite, the 2004 hit single “Heaven.”

The trio’s talents in improvisation were obvious at every unexpected turn and their years of playing together and touring have earned them a perfected sound. It may have been chilly outside, but Los Lonely Boys heated things up.  Enthusiastic and gracious performers, they filled every corner of the small, relaxed ArtCenter theater with soulful rock and roll that was meant to be enjoyed live.