Let's get the superlatives out of the way forthwith: Los Lobos is the greatest bar band the world has ever known, able to turn out letter-perfect covers of songs in genres from acid rock to zydeco, able to keep a room swaying from first note to last over sets that run to Phishlike proportions.
"World's greatest bar band" just begins to cover the territory. Over its 30-year career, the L.A. quintet has produced extraordinary original tunes, including the often-covered "Will the Wolf Survive"; helped bring about a revival of Latino rocker Richie Valens' catalog with its soundtrack to the 1987 film La Bamba; made Antonio Banderas believable as a guitar-slinger in Desperado; and, in various combinations, explored the farther fringes of experimental music while keeping the fires of pure rock alike--sounding, as those who attended the group's phenomenal 1998 concert at the Rialto Theatre may recall, more like Traffic than Steve Winwood has in decades, paying sonic homage to John Lee Hooker and Jimi Hendrix, and delighting crowds with its keep-the-faith fervor.
Los Lobos, a frequent presence on Tucson stages, returns on August 26 for a single show at UA Centennial Hall. The concert dovetails with the annual Pio Decimo Norteño Music Festival, which showcases Mexican and Mexican American musical acts, and the group's set is likely to stay close to the folky territory it staked out in its 1988 Latino roots classic La Pistola y el Corazón and its recently reissued Spanish-language debut album, 1977's Los Lobos del Este de Los Angeles. To judge by Los Lobos' past performances here, it promises to be one of the most memorable shows of the year.