- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 6, 2004

The spirit of departed six-string legend Stevie Ray Vaughan is alive and slinging in Henry Garza, axe-man of the Texan brother-trio Los Lonely Boys, who played the 9:30 Club Friday night.

A good portion of the Boys’ quick-and-dirty set was a showcase for Mr. Garza’s Stratocaster heroics, fluid and forceful like the late Stevie Ray’s, equal parts Tex (“Crazy Dream”) and Mex (“Onda”).

The sky was crying, indeed — only Los Lonely Boys called it “Velvet Sky.”

The brothers Garza — clean-cut Jojo plays bass and trades singing duties with Henry, while street-tough Ringo (yup, his real Christian name) plays drums — are bicultural, and so their blues are shaken and stirred Latin-style, with polyrhythmic dashes of the conjunto music they learned at the foot of their musician father.

The Boys are pop and rock classicists, too, as they revealed with a beefy cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and their current radio single “Heaven,” a major-key slice of summer on which Henry apes the style of another brother band, the Allmans.

A capacity, mostly white audience turned out Friday to see a band that’s becoming a gathering sensation. Los Lonely Boys recorded their independent self-titled album at Willie Nelson’s studio in Austin, Texas, last year. It has since been rereleased on a major label, and as Mr. Nelson himself said at a recent concert taped for the USA network, the Boys are “blowing up.”

There have been plenty of Latin crossovers in recent years (Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony), but Los Lonely Boys are the first Hispanic rock band since Los Lobos to break into the mainstream.

LLB is even better live than it is on record, where Jojo and Henry’s harmony vocals are a bit too sweet and cheery, and cliche-ridden songs such as “More Than Love” pile on slow-dance cheesiness.

On stage, Henry is all sunglasses-in-the-dark, guitar-god business, carrying on a grand Texas tradition that began with maximum-white-boy Buddy Holly and, here in the new century, has become more diverse — but still just as potent.

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