With a 45-year career under its belt that includes three Grammy awards, Los Lobos has proven it’s not just another band from East L.A.
Los Lobos will perform at 7 p.m. July 26 at RiverEdge Park in Aurora as part of its 45th anniversary tour, followed by The Mavericks at 9 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m.
Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Los Lobos saxophonist Steve Berlin about the upcoming show. The interview has been edited for length and style.
Eric Schelkopf: I know that Los Lobos has played in Aurora several times, usually as part of Blues on the Fox. I think the last time you performed in Aurora was at the 2016 festival. Obviously, you have enjoyed being part of that event.
Steve Berlin: We enjoy Aurora. We have friends in the greater Chicago area, so it’s a bit of a homecoming party scene when we’re there.
Schelkopf: Speaking about one of your friends, you have worked with former St. Charles resident Edward David Anderson. You produced his solo debut CD. Prior to that, you produced Backyard Tire Fire’s CD “Good to Be,” which is a group that he founded. As it so happens, he will perform Aug. 9 at The Venue in Aurora.
He has had some great things to say about you, including that you challenged him as a musician. As far as what you try to do as a producer, what do you try to bring to the table?
Berlin: Ed comes with great songs and great approach and is a great singer, so working with him is pretty easy, I have to say. He does a lot of heavy lifting for me and makes me look like I’m a lot smarter than I actually am.
I just try to maximize, I guess, whatever the artist is bringing and try to come up with something I think would be compelling to an objective listener.
Schelkopf: Of course, this is the band’s 45th anniversary tour. I know you’ve been with Los Lobos since the early ’80s. What made you want to join Los Lobos in the first place?
Berlin: There are two great singers and songwriters in the band. The band that I was in previously was The Blasters, who I loved like brothers. But they fought quite a lot. I was the youngest and newest member, so my opinion wasn’t solicited for anything.
The members of Los Lobos always treated me with respect. In that moment, it just seemed like the right thing to do. And obviously I’m still here, more than 40 years later.
My life certainly would have not have been the way it is if they had not called me one day and asked me if I could come down and play baritone saxophone.
Everything good that has happened in my career has happened because of those guys.
Schelkopf: How do you guys gel together? Is it a good mix of personalities?
Berlin: I don’t think we could have stayed together this long if it wasn’t. Yeah, I think it’s that. Some of it is just the kind of people we are.
I think a lot of what makes dissension in bands is unfulfilled ambitions and people not being heard. None of those things are an issue with us.
Everybody sort of gets their opinion. If someone wants to do something outside of the band, it’s fine, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the band’s agenda. It kind of makes everything pretty easy in that regard.
Schelkopf: Are there any projects that you are most proud of since you’ve been in the band?
Berlin: I’m kind of proud of everything, to be honest with you. I think our track record speaks for itself. We’ve done a lot of really interesting stuff. I think the records hold up well.
Schelkopf: It seems like the band has drawn on its Mexican-American heritage throughout its career.
Berlin: That’s our vocabulary. I would like to think that is what makes us unique, or at least somewhat unique.
Schelkopf: As part of the 45th anniversary tour, I understand Los Lobos will be doing two sets – an acoustic set of Mexican folk songs and an electric set of the band’s music. How has that been working out?
Berlin: It’s been a lot of fun. We get to touch on a lot of the things that we like to do.
There’s not a lot of bands that can really do that. We go from songs that are 200 years old to stuff that’s kind of modern and it’s all, practically speaking, ours. I think it just kind of celebrates our uniqueness, I would like to say.
If you go
WHAT: Los Lobos opening for The Mavericks
WHEN: 7 p.m. July 26
WHERE: RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway St. (Route 25), Aurora
COST: $45 for general admission
INFO: riveredgeaurora.com, 630-896-6666