Los Lobos has experienced many different situations during its 37-year career. The adventurous roots-rock band from East Los Angeles has dealt with a number of trying circumstances during its acclaimed run but it’s never had to perform for an extended period without one of its key members.
Vocalist-guitarist Cesar Rosas left the band two weeks ago due to a family emergency but Los Lobos, which will appear Saturday at the Keswick Theater, has played on.
“It’s something very different for us,” saxophonist Steve Berlin said during a telephone interview from Roanoke, VA. “We’re doing a tightly controlled set. We just can’t play anything and we’re doing a lot more jams. (Vocalist-guitarist) David (Hidalgo), (vocalist-guitarist) Louis (Perez) and I are doing more solos. It’s interesting for the fans since we’re doing something that they’ve never experienced before with us. It’s fun for us because we’ve been exploring uncharted territory but it’s all due to unfortunate circumstance. Cesar is such a huge part of this band.”
Berlin isn’t sure when Rosas will be back. “We tour until Easter,” Berlin said. “It’s uncertain when we’ll see him again. We’re just out there doing our best.”
The group is playing a handful of tracks from its latest album, ‘Los Lobos Does Disney,’ which dropped in October.
The band would be doing more songs from the disc if Rosas were around. “But that’s the way it is,” Berlin said. “We’re doing what we can.”
The three-time Grammy winners, which records for Hollywood Records, a Disney subsidiary, crafted its third children’s album to fulfill a contractual agreement.
“But we had a lot of fun with this project,” Berlin said. “There are so many great Disney songs. But we could only do so many. We might have looked idiotic doing some of the Disney songs since they fit someone, who is a stage actor. But fortunately there are so many Disney songs to choose from that we found some that will work for us.”
Los Lobos, which also includes bassist Conrad Lozano, cut “Heigh Ho’ in Spanish and ‘The Bare Necessities’ gets the Cajun treatment.
“We didn’t know how this project would go but it was a great deal of fun,” Berlin said.
Guitar virtuoso Leo Kottke will open for Los Lobos. However, don’t count on Kottke joining the under-manned Los Lobos. “That sounds good in theory but in reality Leo is a singular guy,” Berlin said. “He will perform for an hour and then we’’ll do our dog and pony show for 90 minutes. Don’t’ worry about us. We have plenty to play without Cesar. It’s a Los Lobos show but it’s just something a little different than you’re used to seeing.”