Los Lonely Boys end summer season in style
The final Crystal Bay Road Show of 2007 features three brothers from West Texas who have set the country on fire. Whether they are headlining a show at the Fillmore or opening for The Rolling Stones, this trio delivers the goods like no other. Opening for Los Lonely Boys is the sensational Ryan Shaw. Having spent the summer opening for Joss Stone, Ryan Shaw is set to break through as one of the hottest young R&B vocalists on the scene today.
Los Lonely Boys
In the three years since Or Music introduced Los Lonely Boys to fans around the world, everything has changed for the unique and gutsy musical hermanos from West Texas. And yet, nothing has.
“Sacred,” Los Lonely Boys’ eagerly awaited second album, both continues and expands upon the trio’s self-titled debut, with its deeply personal and stunning fusion of electric blues and Texas roots, of soulful grooves and good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, of searing six-string licks and Latin beats.
“New times, new songs, new rhythms,” frontman Henry Garza said. “But it’s still basically, Los Lonely Boys.”
Working once again with producer John Porter (Keb’ Mo, Ryan Adams, B.B. King) at good friend Willie Nelson, the band recorded “Sacred” with the euphoria of their debut’s success – over 2 million copies sold, a Grammy for the monster single “Heaven” – still fresh. But if the brothers’ heads were sometimes spinning, their feet stayed on the ground. From the plainspoken humility and achey-sweet guitar of album-opener “Diamonds” to the funky, chunky “Oye Mamacita” to the cinematic credo “Outlaws,” Los Lonely Boys have delivered not just 13 extraordinary songs, but 13 affirmations of what they feel is truly sacred: being yourself, being true to God and family, and being true to music, “Texican” style.
“Texican rock ‘n’ roll man, that’s just three brothers making up a name,” Henry said.
At 28, the singer and guitarist is the oldest Lonely Boy; middle child Jo Jo, 26, plays bass, while 24 year-old Ringo is the man behind the drums.
“It’s just a mixture of everything we’ve learned: conjunto music from our father, Richie Valens, Stevie Ray, Willie. All the music that we’ve gathered… Domino, Santana, Skynyrd.”
This is a variation on what Henry likes to call “the musical burrito theory,” and while his brothers wish he would retire the analogy because of overuse, it’s a metaphor with broad descriptive power. The U.S. in 2006 is more of a stuffed-together and deliciously diverse burrito than an assimilated melting pot or well-ordered gorgeous mosaic, and Los Lonely Boys are not just a Texican rock ‘n’ roll band, but a great American rock ‘n’ roll band.
Of course, the reason that Los Lonely Boys sound like a band that’s been together all their lives is because they have. Growing up in San Angelo, a Texas town of cowpokes, cotton and an Air Force base, Henry wrote his first song at the age of 4, and all three brothers learned their chops from father Enrique, a longtime conjunto and country musician who played with his own brothers – all seven of them – back in the day. Henry, Jo Jo and Ringo began backing their father officially in 1991, touring all over the roadhouses and cantinas of the Lone Star State. They also spent time with their father in Nashville, where Enrique hoped to catch that one big break.
But as all children inevitably do, the boys came into their own, both as songwriters and with their own musical style. It was not an easy thing back then, but naturally Enrique’s pride at what his children have been able to accomplish outweighs the loss of his old backing band.
“It’s a blessing that we’ve been given, making music to make a living,” Henry said. “For generations music has been something that our family’s been doing, and every generation it seems like we progress a little more. Daddy taught his sons, and now the sky’s the limit.”
Los Lonely Boys’ beginnings, from an early gig at Austin’s Saxon Pub to the first time they heard themselves on the car radio, can now be seen firsthand in “Cottonfields and Crossroads,” veteran PBS filmmaker Hector Galan’s intimate documentary about the band, which premiered at the 2006 SXSW Film Festival and is now playing around Texas. The movie, which culminates with all the band’s post-“Heaven” success, is just one of a zillion things Los Lonely Boys have added to the resume the past few years. They won five Austin Music Awards in 2004, and followed that with a prime slot at the Austin City Limits festival.
They released a live CD, “Live at the Fillmore,” and DVD, “Texican Style: Live in Austin.”
Henry cemented his reputation as the latest greatest Texas blues guitarist when Guitar World named him 2005’s Breakthrough Artist. They’ve shared a stage with Tim McGraw, the Rolling Stones and Dylan. At one of Neil Young’s Bridge School benefits Henry even got to strum the Beatles-inspired “My Loneliness” to Paul McCartney himself. They also opened for Carlos Santana and cut their song “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love” for his album “All That I Am.” And as headliners themselves they took out kindred spirit like Los Amigos Invisible and deSol.
Then of course, there were the 2005 Grammys, where the band opened the show, won for best Pop Vocal Duo/Group and were also nominated for Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Best Rock Instrumental. Henry says they actually felt a little out of place amidst the hipsters and American Idol types, “but we loved that we were acknowledged. There are a lot of people that don’t really get chances in this world. We really felt that all of them won that Grammy. To see brothers like us, from where we come from, and even our race, do what we do and cross boundaries like we did … I think it’s really cool for people to see a Mexican-American… an American dream come true. Anybody that knows us knows how hard we worked to get where we are today. You don’t get success or get good at something without trying your best and giving it all you’ve got and believing in yourself.”
Los Lonely Boys faced all the usual challenges a second record can present, especially since they still can’t help but feeling they’re a live band first.
“I don’t like to chisel too hard on lady music, you know what I mean?” Henry said. “I like for her to sing free, live free, do what she feels. In a studio you’re trying to capture a moment in time — it’s pretty rare that you can get the feeling that happens ‘one night at the Fillmore.'” They also had to re-arrange songs, “My Loneliness” among them, that they’d written at home on piano for their usual guitar/bass/drums alignment, though as with the first record keyboard/organ ace Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, several hundred other country, blues and roots-rock credits) was also on board. “Sacred” also features a horn section on TK tracks, while “Texican Style” showcases accordionist TK, a member of from their Uncle TK’s band, Los Tex Maniacs.
They also did a lot of writing in the studio — in two cases, with co-writers. Pat Simmons from the Doobie Brothers helped out on the hooky, bound-to-be-a-single “Roses,” while Nashville veteran Gary Nicholson co-wrote “Outlaws.”
“They’re just cool cats,” Henry said. “They wrote a bunch of songs that we’re very familiar with, and influenced us growing up.” “
Los Lonely Boys now own a rebuilt/custom car business in San Angelo called the Texican Chop Shop with a childhood buddy, and it’s not hard to imagine them hanging out there in the garage someday playing their guitars surrounded by grandkids.
“Family and music is our life, a way of life, and that’s very sacred to us,” Henry said. “You come into this world singing a song and you leave it singing a song. Music is that serious man.”
Ryan Shaw is a man with a mission.
The 26-year-old singer/songwriter from Decatur, Ga. is out to revive the passion and soul of the Golden Age of Rhythm & Blues (1960-1972) for a new generation. His One Haven/Columbia debut album, “This Is Ryan Shaw,” combines a powerfully expressive voice with a clutch of great songs both classic and new – and a state-of-the-art, in-your-face – sound that makes it impossible to sit still.
Working with player/producers Jimmy Bralower and Johnny Gale, Ryan dug deep into the “soul mine” for overlooked gems by obscure artists like the Combo Kings and the Sharpees along with more familiar songs made famous by Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, and Bobby Womack. Ryan’s original tunes – “Nobody” (the first single), “We Got Love,” and “Over and Done” – are of the moment but built on the old-school values of strong melodies and meaningful lyrics.
Ryan delivers every song with the kind of emotional commitment and vocal panache that have nearly vanished from the mainstream musical landscape. Compositional craft and studio technology blend in an album of irresistible appeal from the opening dance blast of “Do the 45” to the heart-wrenching ballad “I Am Your Man” and “Over and Done,” the upbeat Ryan Shaw original that closes the set on a joyful, triumphant note.
On stage, Ryan brings it all together with a combination of Southern warmth and New York vitality. Using just a small rhythm section and two male backing vocalists, he’s able to effectively reproduce the sound of his album while stretching some tunes into full-on vocal rave-ups. Ryan’s thrilling voice and charismatic presence are all that he needs to get over with an audience. There’s no posturing or mindless booty-shaking, no need for contrived antics: Ryan Shaw is the real deal.