Los Lobos' first Cinco de Mayo Festival coming to Greek Theatre
Los Lobos’ performances over the years at the Greek Theatre have always generated a familial sense of community, so the announcement this week of the inaugural Los Lobos Cinco de Mayo Festival at the amphitheater seems only to formalize a recurring gig.
Or maybe not.
“I would definitely put ‘formal’ in quotation marks,” Louie Perez, founding guitarist, percussionist and one of the band’s songwriters, told Pop & Hiss with a laugh. “Nothing is very formal when it comes to us.”
The festival, which actually will take place May 5, will find the venerable East L.A. band joined by X, Mariachi El Bronx, Neko Case, Alejandro Escovedo and likely more names for the afternoon and evening affair. Performances are expected to branch out from the Greek’s main stage to a smaller second stage at a location on the grounds that Perez said is still being worked out.
“We’ve been talking about doing something like this for a long time,” Perez said. “But being a working band whose individual members are always doing stuff … there’s very little time to sit down and do it ourselves. We got real close to putting something together for last fall, but like everything else, stuff started falling through the cracks and that didn’t happen.
“So this time, our manager and booking agent and the Nederlanders,” he said, referring to Nederlander Concerts, which manages and books the Greek, “they worked out a lot of the logistics, with our blessing, of course, and we finally said, ‘Great, we can do whatever we can to help from Poughkeepsie or wherever we happen to be.’ ”
In addition to the music, which will be heavily Southern California-centric, Perez said the band’s goal in creating an annual festival is to strongly involve the community, perhaps through the inclusion of local food vendors, trucks and booths for charitable organizations.
“The music will just happen,” Perez said, “but we want to make sure we have a community presence too -- a very family sort of L.A. vibe. We wanted to expand it into being a little more than a concert.”
The loosey-goosey attitude toward the music, he said, is just the way Los Lobos has always worked.
“Things just happen,” Perez said, “and it drives people insane a lot of times. There are a lot of people who like to see things written out on dry erase boards and pieces of paper that they can move around desks and at meetings. But man, this band has been together close to 40 years now, and a lot of things happen just by intuition. But I just have to trust in that process, because it’s always worked out well for us.”
The festival may include some previews of the long-gestating musical “Evangeline, the Queen of Make-Believe,” a young Chicana’s coming-of-age story set in East L.A. in the '60s and '70s. The play is due to have a full-fledged production opening in May at the Bootleg Theater about a week after the Cinco de Mayo Festival.
“I’d like to get them onstage and do a couple of songs and make the pitch for the show,” he said.
-- Randy Lewis
Photo of Los Lobos, from left: Louie Perez, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas and Steve Berlin. Not pictured: Conrad Lozano. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times.
For the record: The photo caption with an earlier version of this post misidentified Los Lobos member Conrad Lozano as Carlos Lozano.