Music News & Reviews

Los Lonely Boys will play in SLO this week

From left, Ringo Jr., Jojo and Henry Garza are Los Lonely Boys.
From left, Ringo Jr., Jojo and Henry Garza are Los Lonely Boys. COURTESY LOS LONELY BOYS

In the case of Los Lonely Boys, brotherly love runs deep.

“Dad raised us to know that nobody’s got your back but your brother,” band member Henry Garza explained. “We’re blessed to be brothers to begin with. It’s hard to take credit for something that beautiful and magic. It’s a God-given gift to share.”

The Garza brothers—Henry, JoJo and Ringo Jr.—have been making music together since they were children in San Angelo, Texas.

The Grammy Award-winning band brings its signature brand of “Texican rock ’n’ roll” to San Luis Obispo on Sunday, and will return this summer to perform at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles.

“We’re blessed to be heard by a big audience,” Henry Garza said. “That’s something we don’t take lightly.”

Fatherly inspiration

The Garza brothers sought early inspiration from their father, Ringo Garza Sr., who played conjunto music with his own band of brothers, The Falcones, in southern Texas during the 1970s and 1980s.

“We always got to give credit to our dad,” Henry Garza said. “He showed us everything from The Beatles to Ronnie Milsap to Willie Nelson to Ritchie Valens. We thought he wrote them all.”

According to Garza, joining the music industry wasn’t a conscious choice, but a calling.

“For us, it was a way of survival. It was how we paid the light how we put food on the table, how we put shoes on our feet,” he explained. “We were not really looking at the bigger picture of trying to be famous.”

Los Lonely Boys first emerged on the Nashville scene while the Garzas were in their teens. However, the band didn’t achieve national attention until the release of its self-titled debut album on Epic Records in 2004. Its No. 1 hit “Heaven” won a Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

“To win (the Grammy) was such a great honor,” Garza recalled. “That’s a big step in anyone’s career, when everyone takes notice and raises their ear to your music.”

For instance, Los Lonely Boys got the chance to meet and perform with many of their idols, including Carlos Santana and Los Lobos.

“All of this happened so fast,” Garza said. “You wake up in the middle of the night and go, ‘Did that happen? Did that really happen? How come I didn’t take a picture?’ ”

Los Lonely Boys released three more studio albums with Epic — 2006’s “Sacred” and 2008’s “Forgiven” and “Christmas Spirit”— before moving to the independent Austin label Playing in Traffic Records for the 2009 album “1969.”

According to Garza, Los Lonely Boys relish the chance to record on their own imprint, Lonely Tone Records.

“With your own label, you have the freedom of being you,” he said. “We like being able to (control) our own production Nobody knows our music better than we do.”

Added Garza, “You have to treat (music) like it’s a wild spirit. Sometimes you can’t tame it.”

Back on the road

Los Lonely Boys’ 2011 album, “Rockpango,” embraces that sense of freedom — taking its title from a freshly coined Spanish slang term meaning “rock party.”

“It’s new music for a new time, new growth for us,” he said.

The band had a scare while recording “Rockpango” when Jojo Garza sustained a vocal cord injury. After undergoing surgery on his voice box, he’s made a full recovery.

“We thought we were never going to sing (together) again,” Henry Garza said, describing the experience as “scary.” “He pulled through with God’s grace.”

Now the Garza brothers are back on the road, touring with The Dunwells, a melodic folk-rock group from Leeds, England. Sunday’s Los Lonely Boys concert will feature stripped-down acoustic versions of many of their favorite songs.

“The acoustic thing is such an intimate way to get across to your audience,” Garza said. “It’s like we’re sitting around in your living room.

“We love to see what happens next. You never know.”

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