At one time, Randy's Ballroom would be packed wall-to-wall with Raza on a Saturday night, yet for last Saturday's visit from Los Chicos del Barrio the venue was, surprisingly, sparse. Still, the dance floor filled with gente once the 10 members of the group (visa complications held back three more) took the stage and launched into their hit "Mucha lucha."
Los Chicos really hit their stride in their second set, where they broke out of the radio-friendly, three-minute-song format and launched into a series of extended jams which included a cover of Ramon Ayala's "Tragos Armargos" and a sonidero-popuri, where they mixed in favorites from Celso Piña and Aniceto Molina. Long after the lights came on and security shuffled everyone out, the guys from Torreón, Coahuila kept on playing, joined by a handful of musicos from the audience, as they turned what could have been just another gig into a true celebration of cumbiandero community.
Incidentally, for those wanting the real deal in norteño, on Friday, September 3 the legendary Ramón Ayala is scheduled to come to Ritmo Latino (3609 West Avenue).
Labor Day weekend kicks off early with a show by local rock veteran Ty Gavin and his band, My People. The group, which is composed of alumni from the Next, the Hickoids, the Mystery Dates, Bang Gang and the Country Giants, will be at Lucky's (12239 Nacogdoches) on Thursday, September 2. There's no cover charge.
The city's numerous heavy-metal maniacs will get rewarded for their labors with a multi-band free-for-all at Sunken Garden Amphitheatre on Saturday, September 4, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The headliner is Legs Diamond, one of those bands (Moxy, anyone?) whose enduring local popularity separates San Antonio from the rest of hard-rock humanity. But on a bill that also includes the Michael Schenker Group, Montrose, and Starz, the true ringer for me is Uli Jon Roth, original lead guitarist for the Scorpions, whose departure from the Teutonic terrors apparently liberated him to fully vent his more excessive tendencies (because we all know how understated the Scorpions have always been).
Playing a self-created seven-string guitar, working with a self-created musical notation system, running five recording studios in his house, jamming with a Sky Orchestra featured on self-created video projections, he is a frightening example of what too much musical knowledge can do to the brain.