Los Lonely Boys

The press is getting it all wrong. Comparing Los Lonely Boys to Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble is like comparing apples to sunglasses. Santana? That’s a lot closer.

But Los Lonely Boys is most like Los Lobos, on rocket fuel. Their lyrics are sometimes English, sometimes Spanish; their songs are blues and rock and conjunto. And singer/guitarist Henry Garza sounds a hell of a lot like David Hidalgo.

The difference between these two bands is that these guys, these three brothers, throw down. Henry will probably soon be known as one of the top guitarists in America. JoJo is an award-winning bassist who tends to join in on guitar

Henry’s guitar, while Henry is playing. And Ringo plays the drums. Go figure.

Carlos Santana fell in love with LLB at a recent gig at San Francisco’s Fillmore. He watched the brothers at soundcheck, then jammed with them.

“Oh, dude! We played with him, dude!” Henry gushed to Pollstar. “We jammed in San Francisco and I heard now we’re supposed to go into the studio and do something soon. I don’t know when, I heard that somewhere.”

Pollstar mentioned that not only are they recording with Santana, but rumor had it that Carlos is using one of the band’s songs.

“Man, that’s awesome, dude! I didn’t know anything about that!”

Glad we could pass it along.

Willie Nelson is another notable who is associated with the Boys. Not only has Willie christened LLB his favorite band, he arranged for the band to be recorded at his Austin, Texas, studio.

Along with playing at last year’s Farm Aid, LLB turned Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic into a giant backyard Quinceanera party. They opened South By Southwest in front of 23,000 people, and cleaned house at the Austin Music Awards. And their late-night talk show performances have received a lot of ooh’s and ah’s from Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel.

The brothers have been playing music since they were kids in San Angelo, Texas. Their father, Henry Sr., played in a band called The Falcones that featured nine brothers itself.

In the early ’90s, Henry went solo and hired his own kids as his backup band. When he wanted to become a country singer, he took the brothers to Nashville.

Once, back in San Angelo, the three brothers played an open mic night at the Steel Penny Pub. A partner at the venue, Russ Steele, saw the future and is now LLB’s tour manager.

Los Lonely Boys

Henry Sr., unfortunately, never got his record deal.

Los Lonely Boys signed with Monterey Peninsula Artists in February, with Ron Kaplan and Ryan Owens handling their account.

“The first run that we booked on the West Coast, everything sold out,” Kaplan told Pollstar. “We were very conservative, from 500 to 1,000 seats, but everything just went clean. … I think they’re going to have a wide audience

from the Latin audience to pop audience to roots audience.”

By the way, Kaplan describes their sound as “Santana meets Buddy Holly and Richie Valens”

also accurate. The agent said 2004 will be about putting Los Lonely Boys in front of a variety of audiences. Along with headlining gigs, the band will be playing with Keb’ Mo’, George Thorogood, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, and the Allman Brothers Band. They’re also set up for Bonnaroo and another swing through the Picnic.

“We’re definitely passing on a lot of opportunities,” Kaplan said. “We were offered a few different tours that we couldn’t do, inquiries like (John) Fogerty and a couple dates with Counting Crows, shows we couldn’t do but hope to be able to do in the future.”

Although the bros are set for this summer and fall, both Kaplan and Henry Garza said there’s a higher priority.

“We’re fathers first before we are musicians, you know what I’m saying?” the guitarist said. “That’s the big part of it. Mainly, where our music comes from, is living life. You’ve gotta go through those things and especially, being daddies and doing stuff with our kids; we’ve gotta take care of them.”

The Garza brothers are known for just wanting to work and play their music. Stardom is not one of their goals, although it’s still likely.

“It’s just been such a boost with a lot of these things happening,” Henry said. “We’re young guys but we’ve been doing it for such a long time. It’s really been a long time coming. We’ve worked really hard at a very young age because that’s what we did when we were kids, that’s how we got shoes, that’s how we ate, by doing music, man, and that’s really what we’re doing it for.

“We’ve gotta take care of the families, but we know there’s a business side of it, too, and that’s why Ron and those cats do all of their things.”