When the members of Los Lonely Boys, a trio of brothers from West Texas, began writing songs, they didn’t stray far from their roots. It would be fair to assume that when they became a band in 1996 they already had a collective head full of material from their association with their father, a conjunto and country-western entertainer. Enrique Garza Sr. was a member of the Falcones; when he made the decision to go solo, he enlisted his young sons as backup musicians. It was, by their account, a hard life. They told a reporter that they lived for a while in a tent outside of Escondido. In Nashville, the father-son act eventually found modest success playing in bars, even though the boys were under age.
Los Lonely Boys are Henry, Jo Jo, and Ringo Garza. Ringo is the band’s drummer (he told Rolling Stone that Ringo is his given name). Fronted by Henry, the band lays heavy claim to R&B and Tex-Mex as influences in a solid, gritty, horn-punctuated, guitar-and-bass-driven sound. Less mexicano than Los Lobos and on a par with Santana’s pop, Los Lonely Boys found early favor with Willie Nelson, and for a while it was fashionable to have them as show openers. The Garza brothers toured their rootsy act behind Nelson, the Stones, Dave Matthews, Neil Young, and others of similar stature.
The band found traction on their own with a hit song titled “Heaven,” written during a period of bleak poverty while still in Nashville. “’Cause I know there’s a better place/ Than this place I’m livin’/ How far is heaven?/ So I just got to show some faith/ And just keep on giving.” “Heaven” earned Los Lonely Boys a Grammy in 2005.
The brothers won’t talk much about why they split with their father, but they did once say in an interview that “lonely boys” was from a lullaby that he once sang them.
Los Lobos also perform.
LOS LONELY BOYS, Viejas Concerts in the Park, Saturday, July 26, 8 p.m. 619-445-5400. $55.