I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of talented people on projects big and small. Today, the story of meeting a band I loved in high school and making an unofficial video for one of their songs.
Senior year of high school, the fall of 1984, must be when I first heard Los Lobos. “Will the Wolf Survive? didn’t hit big on radio, but it got constant MTV play. It’s about trying to preserve Mexican culture while living in mainstream America. It’s also a metaphor for musicians who want to be heard. A white high school kid in Iowa can’t relate directly, but I think everybody knows about feeling like an outsider.
Not long later, Los Lobos’ biggest commercial success was their 1987 cover of “La Bamba,” from the Ritchie Valens biopic starring Lou Diamond Phillips.
Over the years, Los Lobos has won three Grammys, been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and performed the theme for “Handy Manny.” My story with Los Lobos starts the fall of 2009. Just in time for Christmas, the band put out “Los Lobos Goes Disney,” an album of cover tunes from “Grim Grinning Ghosts” to “I Will Go Sailing No More.” The band also came to Walt Disney World in Florida for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Bands play three shows a night, around 30-40 minutes each. Here’s some shaky footage of Los Lobos closing a set with “No Way Out,” a blues classic now associated with The Allman Brothers Band.
Bands that come to Epcot Food & Wine are usually pretty busy – playing at night and riding Space Mountain with their families during the day. Los Lobos generously agreed to do a video for the official Disney Parks Blog. Since Epcot’s Germany Pavilion isn’t open to guests until 11am, it’s the perfect place for Los Lobos to meet me and a video crew around 9am and perform along to their track “Heigh-Ho.” The Seven Dwarfs even showed up to help out.
Los Lobos were a dream. They ran through the song twice with a few pick-up shots of guitars and sax – and made sure to get plenty of their own photos with Dopey and the boys. The Dwarfs stuck around after for their solo dances. How does the band sound so good without power cables or mics – and how do bongos sound like a drum kit? Disney magic!
Thanks to Al Durruthy for all his help behind the camera that morning.