By the time David Hidalgo dedicated "La Bamba" to the memory of "Ramon from the Red Iguana," over three hours of fierce guitar-work had already ripped uphill from the amphitheater at Deer Valley.
That the Fourth of July crowd would feel a lot of heat came as no surprise to anyone familiar with the hard-driving sound of the night's three acts Alejandro Escovedo, Los Lonely Boys and Los Lobos who exude a singularly fraternal spirit.
Even so, the loving and inventive pastiche of styles and songs was impressive.
There was Escovedo flanked by his Tommy Lee-doppleganger bassist Bobby Daniel and his able lead guitarist Ricky Ray Jackson dressed in black (except for a splash of color courtesy of a scarf), showing his punk rocker attitude isn't on the wane. At 62, the slender musician who as part of The Nuns once opened for the Sex Pistols was agile and charismatic, culling from a deep repertoire of songs, and letting loose on numbers such as "Tender Heart" and "Arizona." His achingly melodic homage to the experience of being in bands, "Sensitive Boys," stood in fine contrast to the high energy riffing of "Can't Make Me Run" and the set closing "Like a Hurricane."
The short break before Los Lonely Boys turned up the volume did nothing to temper the electricity in the air. By the time the three virtuoso brothers were midway into their second song "Man to Beat" the audience was on its feet, gleefully joining lead singer/guitarist Henry Garza in the James Brownesque chant "get on up." The song exemplified much of what Los Lonely Boys do so well: enhancing original songs with brief excursions down Classic Row, and delighting the fans with a few guitar phrases from, say, "Sunshine of Your Love."
Time and again the Garza brothers showed their taut chemistry, as on an instrumental number, in which Henry and bassist JoJo showcasing some masterfully funky fingerwork performed a series of breathtakingly synchronized stops and starts.
Other high points were the rockabilly foot-stomper "Friday Night" and the boyishly cat-calling "Oye Mamacita."
While these two performances would have already made for quite a satisfying show, the best was yet to come.
As the funicular moved fluidly a stone's throw away from the amphitheater, its effortless motion seemed to parallel the fluidity of the musicians who came and went onstage.
When Los Lobos finally opened their set with "Dream in Blue" Hidalgo, guitarist Louie Perez and, especially, baritone saxophonist Steve Berlin, had already had plenty of opportunity to showcase their talents, having joined Escovedo and Los Lonely Boys on a number of songs.
Moving the audience to dance on numerous occasions, the band gave a nod to hard-driving blues with their "I Walk Alone" and the riveting "I Got Loaded," and reached back to their major label debut with a poignant take on "Will the Wolf Survive."
As the set wore on, the songs began to spill into one another, ending with what seemed like a kaleidoscopic journey through sound that included a good bit of Howlin' Wolf ("Three Hundred Pounds of Joy"), Jimmy Hendrix ("Are You Experienced") and Grateful Dead ("Bertha").
The catchiness of the Richie Valens' classic, with which Los Lobos punctuated the show, is undeniable. No matter how many times one hears it, it's impossible to take it in while sitting still. On Independence Day, with the help of the Garza brothers and a pleasant detour into "Good Lovin'" it drove home a simple message: Let's keep dancing as long as we can.
Review: Los Lobos
Bottom line • On Independence Day, three bands drive home a simple message: Let's keep dancing as long as we can.
With • Alejandro Escovedo and Los Lonely Boys
Where • Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater, 2250 Deer Valley Drive, Park City
When • Thursday, July 4