NEW DATE: Steve Earle & Los Lobos at Innsbrook After Hours in Glen Allen
Innsbrook After Hours
4901 Lake Brook Dr
PLEASE NOTE: Steve Earle and Los Lobos show at Innsbrook After Hours has been postponed to August 27, 2021. All tickets will be honored for the new date. Visit innsbrookafterhours.com for more information.Visit IndianRanch.com for more information. Steve Earle, a man who doesn’t mind telling a story, was talking about the first thing Guy Clark ever said to him. “It was 1974, I was 19 and I had just hitch-hiked from San Antonio to Nashville,” Earle said in mid-Texas-cum-Greenwich Village drawl. “Back then if you wanted to be where the best songwriters were, you had to go to Nashville. There were a couple of places where you could get on stage, play your songs. They let you have two drafts, or pass the hat, but you couldn’t do both. “If you were from Texas, and serious, Guy Clark was a king. Everyone knew his songs, ‘Desperados Waiting For A Train,’ ‘LA Freeway,’ he’d been singing them before they came out on Old No. 1 in 1975.” “So I was pretty excited when I went into the club and the bartender, a friend of mine says, ‘Guy’s here.’ I wanted him to hear me play. I was doing some of my earliest songs, ‘Ben McCullough’ and ‘The Mercenary Song.’ But he was in the pool room and when I go in there the first thing he says to me is `I like your hat.’” While it was a pretty cool hat, Earle remembers, “worn in just right with some beads I fixed up around it,” Clark did eventually hear his songs. A few months later he was playing bass in Guy’s band. “Now, I am a terrible bass player…but I was the kid, and that was what the kid did. I took over for Rodney Crowell. At that time Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ was a top ten hit, which was amazing, a six and half minute story song on the radio. So Guy said, ‘we’re story song writers, why not us?’ So we went out to cash in on the big wave.” The success of ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ was not replicated, but Earle reports that being the 19-year-old bass player in Guy Clark’s band was “a gas.” At least until Earle went into a bar and left the bass in the back seat of his VW bug, from which it was promptly stolen. “It was a nice Fender Precision bass that belonged to Guy, the kind of thing that would be worth ten grand now. He wasn’t so happy about that.” More than forty years later, Steve Earle, just turned 64, no longer wears a cowboy hat. “It was more than all the hat acts,” Steve contended. “My grandmother told me it was impolite to wear a hat indoors.” As for Guy Clark, he’s dead, passed away in 2016 after a decade long stare-down with lymphoma. But Earle wasn’t ready to stop thinking about his friend and mentor. “No way I could get out of doing this record,” Steve said when we talked over the phone from Charlotte, North Carolina, that night’s stop on Earle’s ever peripatetic road dog itinerary. “When I get to the other side, I didn’t want to run into Guy having made the TOWNES record and not one about him.” Townes van Zandt (subject of Earle’s 2009 Townes) and Guy Clark were “like Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg to me,” Steve said. The mercurial Van Zandt (1944-1997) who once ordered his teenage disciple to chain him to a tree in hopes that it would keep him from drinking, was the On The Road quicksilver of youth. Clark, 33 at the time Earle met him, was a longer lasting, more mellow burn. “When it comes to mentors, I’m glad I had both,” Earle said. “If you asked Townes what’s it all about, he’d hand you a copy of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. If you asked Guy the same question, he’d take out a piece of paper and teach you how to diagram a song, what goes where. Townes was one of the all-time great writers, but he only finished three songs during the last fifteen years of his life. Guy had cancer and wrote songs until the day he died…He painted, he built instruments, he owned a guitar shop in the Bay Area where the young Bobby Weir hung out. He was older and wiser. You hung around with him and knew why they call what artists do disciplines. Because he was disciplined.” “GUY wasn’t really a hard record to make,” Earle said. “We did it fast, five or six days with almost no overdubbing. I wanted it to sound live…When you’ve got a catalog like Guy’s and you’re only doing sixteen tracks, you know each one is going to be strong.” When he was making TOWNES, Earle recorded “Pancho and Lefty” first; it was a big record, covered over by no less than Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Bob Dylan. “You had to go into the bar and right away knock out the biggest guy in the room,” Earle recalled. With GUY it was a different process. Clark didn’t have that one career-defining hit, but he wasn’t exactly unknown. “Desperados,” “LA Freeway” were pre-“Americana” style hits. “New Cut Road” charted for Bobby Bare and was recorded by Johnny Cash. “Heartbroke” was a # 1 country record for Ricky Skaggs in 1982. But when you added it up, Clark’s songs wove together into variegated life tapestry, far more than the sum of the parts. Los Lobos is unlike any other band, so it’s not surprising that the group’s first-ever Christmas album – Llegó Navidad – would break the holiday-album mold too. Instead of relying on over-played seasonal standards for its latest album, the band, along with some friends, started out by researching and collecting nearly 150 different traditional (and not-so-traditional) Christmas songs from North, Central and South America. After narrowing down the list to 11 songs – and then adding their own original to the mix – David Hidalgo, Louie Perez, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano and Steve Berlin recorded them on their home turf in East Los Angeles. The band set out to sing new life into these old songs and make the kind of fresh and vital holiday album that only Los Lobos could make. You’ve probably never heard 10 of the songs (“Arbolito de Navidad” and “Regalo de Reyes”); one you’ve absolutely heard (“Feliz Navidad”); and one you’ve definitely never heard (“Christmas And You”) – which was written especially for the album. Llegó Navidad opens with Rosas singing “La Rama” (the branch), a lively song played in the regional folk style known as son jarocho, which is popular in the Veracruz region of Mexico. La Rama is also the name of the traditional Mexican holiday custom where the community adorns branches from a tree and displays them in a nightly procession through the neighborhood. Hidalgo sings lead on “Christmas Time In Texas,” a track made popular by Tex-Mex legend Freddy Fender. Lozano’s distorted upright bass keeps time with his son Jason Lozano on drums, who makes special guest appearance on the song. “Dónde Está Santa Claus” fires on all cylinders like a lowered Chevy Impala cruising Whittier Boulevard on the weekend. Berlin’s warm Vox Continental organ and Perez’s potent drumming create a head-nodding groove that’s miles away from the 1958 original, which was a novelty hit for 12-year-old singer Augie Rios. His version featured a full orchestra and poppy background vocals. One of the interesting things about Llegó Navidad is that the rancheras, salsas and son jarochos on the album would sound right at home on the group’s 1978 debut, Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles. It’s a rare full-circle moment for the Grammy®-winning band, which has prided itself on never covering the same ground twice while making music for nearly 50 years. Their journey began in 1973, when Hidalgo (vocals, guitar, and pretty much anything with strings), Perez (drums, vocals, guitar), Rosas (vocals, guitar), and Lozano (bass, vocals, guitarrón) earned their stripes playing revved-up versions of Mexican folk music in restaurants and at parties. The band evolved in the 1980s as it tapped into L.A.’s burgeoning punk and college rock scenes. They were soon sharing bills with bands like the Circle Jerks, Public Image Ltd. and the Blasters, whose saxophonist, Steve Berlin, would eventually leave the group to join Los Lobos in 1984. Early on, Los Lobos enjoyed critical success, winning the Grammy® for Best Mexican-American Performance for “Anselma” from its 1983 EP …And a Time to Dance. A year later, the group released its full-length, major-label debut, How Will the Wolf Survive? Co-produced by Berlin and T Bone Burnett, the album was a college rock sensation that helped Los Lobos tie with Bruce Springsteen as Rolling Stone’s Artist of the Year.