Photos by Lou Montesano
Los Lonely Boys are the Garza brothers — Henry, JoJo and Ringo — an Austin-based trio of second-generation Mexican-American musicians who have been making tuneful Texas rock for more than a decade. Their first single, the toe-tapping “Heaven,” became an almost instant radio staple upon release in 2005, showcasing Los Lonely Boys’ tight vocals, funky beats and stinging guitar leads. The boys have toured and recorded almost non-stop ever since, except for a brief hiatus while Henry recovered from a near-fatal fall from the stage three years ago. Their current tour, which played two nights at Manhattan’s City Winery in early July, featured a warm opening by fellow Texan Lisa Morales followed by a generous set of early Los Lonely favorites along with songs from 2014’s Revelation.
In cities like Austin, Nashville and New Orleans, the live music scene is rich with talent, from the concert halls to the local bars, spilling out into the streets. Wander into some seemingly small-time drinking establishment and you just might find yourself listening to a bar band on its way to bigger things. Los Lonely Boys are the consummate bar band. Their love of performing and gift for connecting deeply with audiences go back to their days playing in Austin clubs, all the while sharpening their musicianship, softening their harmonies and developing their songwriting skills. Configured as a power trio, the boys draw on Classic Rock, Power Pop, Texas boogie and Tejano traditions to craft fresh, catchy songs sung in English and Spanish.
The center of the Los Lonely Boys sound comes soaring out of Henry’s virtuosic guitar, delivering a hugely enjoyable tour of classic rock history. No self-respecting guitar hero from Texas could hit the stage without a deep working knowledge of the late king of Austin Strat slingers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, but on any given solo Henry might veer into the wawa of Jimi, the lyric richness of Santana, lightning phrasing of Clapton, tone-bending of Jeff Beck or melodic scales of Duane Allman. And was that Latin-inflected run in the middle of “Crazy Dream” actually a quote of Robbie Krieger’s classic riff on the Doors’ “Break On Through?”
Like all great bar bands, Los Lonely Boys can also tear the roof off a club while ripping up audiences with great songs and dynamic performances. What’s unique about los hermanos Garza is they start by tearing down walls — the walls that can artificially separate musical styles, artistic categories, cultures and people – and end up bringing everyone together in celebration. And they do it, as Henry said at City Winery, “in the name of love.”
SET LIST: Don’t Walk Away; Blame It On Love; Give A Little More; So Sensual; Velvet Sky; Nobody Else; Crazy Dream; Jam; Rockpango; Oye Mamacita; Heaven