Thursday, June 12, 2008
If you have been out in public sometime since 2003, then you have heard Los Lonely Boys’ massive hit single “Heaven.” The laid-back pop-rock song, which features the repeated question “How far is heaven?” over some warm guitar riffs, is the sort of crossover hit that could be played on the jukebox of a rowdy country bar or over the loudspeaker at a family-friendly amusement park.
The single, which appeared on the Texas trio’s self-titled debut, climbed to the top of the Adult Contemporary charts and made impressive inroads on the Billboard and Country charts. It also gave Los Lonely Boys their 2005 Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and caused their first album to sell more than 2 million copies.
One might be tempted to dismiss Los Lonely Boys as a one-hit wonder with a fluke hit if one didn’t examine the trio’s background. The musicians started playing music early, with frontman Henry Garza writing his first song when he was just 4. Later, Los Lonely Boys– which also consists of Garza’s brothers, bassist JoJo Garza and drummer Ringo Garza Jr.– started playing together way back in 1991. Then they were backing their father Ringo Garza Sr., who played and country music. When the family moved to Nashville, the sons decided to strike out on their own.
The group received a big boost when one of their demo tapes was heard by Texas music legend Willie Nelson. After seeing Los Lonely Boys live, Nelson invited the trio to record their debut at his Pedernales recording studio. Nelson even joined the trio on guitar for the ballad “La Contestacíon.” The resulting album was eventually picked up and distributed by Epic Records.
Following the overwhelming success of their debut, Los Lonely Boys scored another Grammy nomination with “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love.” The trio recorded the song, one of their older numbers, with music legend Santana for his album .
While Los Lonely Boys’ second album, 2006’s , didn’t become a huge hit like their self-titled debut, it did debut at the number-two position on the Billboard charts. also spawned a minor hit with the single “Diamonds,” which charted on the Adult Contemporary charts.
It will be interesting to see if , their latest CD, will yield a crossover single of some kind. Due out July 1, showcases a tight three piece with a surprisingly full sound. It’s a mix of rock, blues, adult contemporary and south-of-the-border sounds that the trio refers to as “Texican rock and roll.”
begins with “Heart Won’t Tell a Lie,” a Santana-meets-Stevie-Ray-Vaughan-meets-Los-Lobos-styled rocker with biting guitar. Later on, “Loving You Always” is an acoustic love song with flurries of Spanish-sounding acoustic guitar playing, while “You Can’t See the Light” sounds like a blues rock number for the adult contemporary crowd.
One wholly unexpected track is “I’m a Man.” The classic-rock-evoking number starts with Hendrix-like guitar over Santana-ish percussion before Henry Garza lets loose with a few monster guitar solos.
Before Los Lonely Boys’ performance at Monterey’s Golden State Theatre, the trio will open for pop rocker Sheryl Crow at two shows. Following their Monterey gig, the band will unite with Los Lobos for a string of performances being billed as the “Brotherhood Tour.”
These gigs help illustrate that while Los Lonely Boys might never again score a hit as atmospheric as “Heaven,” the group is cementing its staying power with its adept playing, varied material and high-profile industry allies.
LOS LONELY BOYS play 8pm Saturday, June 14, at the Golden State Theatre, 417 Alvarado St., Monterey. $25-$65. 372-3800.