Dream In Blue: Speaking With Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin

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Steve Berlin is one of the most storied musicians of the past 40 years. Between his work with Los Angeles-based the Blasters, his placement in time during the west coast punk rock boom of the ’70s, and his longtime membership with Los Lobos, Berlin has his share of rock ‘n’ roll tales.

Berlin would find himself in Los Angeles at the ripe old age of 19; and in the audience for Public Image Ltd.’s concert at the Olympic Auditorium in 1980. A nearly unknown traditional mariachi and tex-mex outfit called Los Lobos opened up the concert — something that was baffling to Berlin and many of the other punk rockers in attendance.

In time, Berlin was playing with both The Plugs and The Blasters, the latter of which scored a gig at the beloved Whiskey-a-Go-Go. For that show, none other than Los Lobos opened; this time plugged in and more rocked out than they had been only several years earlier at the Olympic.

Blown away by the band’s performance, Berlin went on to form a tight friendship and working relationship with Los Lobos, going on to be in  the studio with T. Bone Burnett to record Los Lobos’ Slash Records debut, And a Time to Dance. Ever since, Berlin has been a part of the group, which is headed to Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville on Sunday, August 20. WOUB’s Emily Votaw spoke with Berlin about what it was like to grow up in the ’50s as a budding musician; Los Lobos’ tradition of quirky, savory sonic experimentation; and what it’s been like to work with everyone from Rickie Lee Jones to John Lee Hooker.

Los Lobos, who are headed to Nelsonville laster this month to perform at Stuart's Opera House. (Submitted)
Los Lobos, who are headed to Nelsonville later this month to perform at Stuart’s Opera House. (Submitted)