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Los Lobos Sends A Love Letter To Los Angeles

Los Lobos in Los Angeles. (Photo by Piero F. Giunti)
Los Lobos in Los Angeles. (Photo by Piero F. Giunti)

American rock band Los Lobos has released “Native Sons,” a new album that pays tribute to the music of their city — Los Angeles.

David Hidalgo, a founding member of Los Lobos, says that after 48 years playing together, the group wanted to create a record of songs from bands that formed their taste in music growing up.

“Most of the songs that we’ve done on the album are heroes growing up or mentors,” Hidalgo says. “Throughout the years, we’ve been able to meet these people along the lines and become friends.”

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“Native Sons” kicks off with one of their favorites — Thee Midniters — with the group’s song “Love Special Delivery.”

“Thee Midnighters were the most successful band to come out of East LA” Hidalgo says. “And when we were kids, they were hometown heroes.”

The album also features The Beach Boys. Hidalgo says The Beach Boys songs pose a challenge because of the band’s powerful vocalist Brian Wilson.

They decided to do The Beach Boys song “Sail On, Sailor,” Hidalgo says. A few years ago, Los Lobos were playing up in The Fillmore in San Francisco and had the opportunity to play the song with Blondie Chaplin — the lead vocalist on the track.

“We learned the song to back him up,” Hidalgo says. “We always loved the song to begin with but that gave it more of a personal connection.”

Hidalgo says when he was growing up it was a really good time for music and for radio. He says the style of radio he listened to has slowly disappeared.

“Radio was great back then — KRLA, KGFJ was the R&B soul station — so you could scroll up and down the dial you could find anything,” Hidalgo says.

On one station, people could listen to The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and many other talented American musicians. Now, Hidalgo says it’s a different world and the attention span of people has grown short.

Walking through the neighborhoods growing up, Hidalgo says there were bands practicing songs on almost every block — from soul to rock to cumbia — so people would listen to all kinds of music. The band grew up in the same neighborhood and met during highschool.

That’s what has kept them together for all these years: becoming friends in those neighborhoods, he says. The band grew up together and so did their kids, Hidalgo says.

“We became friends first and as time went on, ” Hidalgo says, “we became family.”

Alex Ashlock produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Tinku RayCamila Beiner adapted this interview for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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