Music and Photography

Los Lobos "Gates of Gold" Is Great, Buy It! by Ron Cowie

Los Lobos (Spanish for "The Wolves") is an amazing band. If you don't know about them, fix that. Their most recent album "Gates of Gold" is a great blend of Tejano and Rock and Roll music. So, if you don't want to read anymore, do yourself a kindness and get this album. My job is done and the rest is just pretentious fluff.

How it started for me.

In 1984 I bought "How Will The Wolf Survive?"  I was 14 and used money from my paper route to get the cassette from Boogie Records in Toledo, Ohio. I played it all the time, practiced my drums to it and, tried converting classmates. I loved the energy and the exotic sound (in Toledo, Mexican/Chicano music is exotic). In a nutshell, it a was great and very sophisticated rock album and, I had never heard anything like it. This is still true.

Keith Carter

Then, I bought their greatest hits compilation called "Just Another Band From East LA". This is a big fat album and shows the blend between traditional Mexican folk music and original rock and roll. The bonus was the pamphlet art for the compact disc was done by my friend and colleague  Keith Carter. It was a lot of music and great for listening to in the darkroom. It gives a pretty solid history lesson in roots music so belongs in your collection. 

Latin Playboys

The Latin Playboys which is David Hidalgo and Louie Perez collaborating with Tchad Blake and producer Mitchell Froom. collaborated in the mid-90's It was an art project for them and I loved it. Both albums "Latin Playboys" and "Dose" are worth adding to your collection. They experimented with songwriting, poetry and sound. I like the frontiers they explored and claimed for themselves. Both albums evoke the creative approach of Tom Waits but with a more refined musicality. That is to say, David Hidalgo actually sings. 

Rhythm & Roots 2015

When I saw that Los Lobos was headlining the  Rhythm & Roots Festival over Labor Day Weekend, I volunteered my photographic services so I could see, and perhaps, meet the band that punctuated my life. It was a treat to introduce my stepson to the band and their music. I did get to say "Thank you" and take some great pictures to boot. So, the tradition continues. 

Why Los Lobos Is Important

Los Lobos started out as a wedding and festival band for the Chicano community in Los Angeles. They have played around the world and their path has is made by creating original music, honoring a tradition and, playing it in front of people on a regular basis over decades.

They haven't lost sight of themselves or compromised their integrity at the altar of quick success. I'm sure they would prefer greater financial rewards for their efforts. Who doesn't? They have been consistent in their work, grateful for their audience's support and, continue to create a distinctive sound. They are a band's band.

I'm inspired by their example. They work diligently and treat their audience with respect. They create room to experiment on a regular basis. They are genuinely nice guys. Their success is built on redefining the genre of music of their culture and forging new musical paths from it. There is a lot for me to aim for in my own career. W.W.L.L.D?

So, buy Gates Of Gold, it's good for the soul.