Tight Texicans 

No brotherly drama for Los Lonely Boys

Why can't rock and roll siblings seem to get along? The Everly Brothers blew apart in 1973 when Phil smashed his guitar during a performance and stormed offstage. They didn't speak for 10 years. Ray and Dave Davies of the Kinks fought their entire livesDave has compared their relationship to that of Cain and Abel. Robin Gibb split from his three brothers in the BeeGees for a more successful solo career because Barry hogged the lead vocals. Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis routinely squabble, occasionally getting into fistfights during interviews. The Kings of Leon's Followill brothers get in frequent drunken brawls. Jack White and his sister Meg wound up getting divorced. Okay, turns out they weren't actually siblings, but rock and roll is chock full of family acts that explode into emotional meltdowns just like, well, families do.

Somehow the three Garza brothers of Los Lonely Boys seem to have tapped into the secret of fraternal harmony, literally and figuratively. Their blood connection binds them to their music rather than creating the head-butting and finger-pointing that can tear a band apart. The power trio from San Angelo, Texas, have been performing together since a young age, backing up their father, Ringo, when he went solo from his own band of brothers, the Falcones, in the 1980s.

Playing together on the road, the trio forged a sound. Henry's fiery guitar licks weld hunks of Hendrix, Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughan into a distinctive style that mixes blues-rock with Tex-Mex and conjunto. The band calls it "Texican rock 'n' roll." The family moved to Nashville and when the old man retired from music, Henry, bassist JoJo and drummer Ringo Garza Jr. started writing their own material. After returning to their home state of Texas, Los Lonely Boys released their debut in 2003, which included "Heaven," a No. 1 hit. The song was awarded a Grammy in 2005 and the band was off and running.

click to enlarge Unlike other bands where sibling meltdowns have marred their careers, Los Lonely Boys have stayed grounded.
  • Unlike other bands where sibling meltdowns have marred their careers, Los Lonely Boys have stayed grounded.

From their base in West Texas, the Garza brothers continued to record and perform, becoming more active in social justice causes. Through the years they've toured with the Stones, recorded with Willie Nelson and Carlos Santana, even sang the national anthem at a World Series game. So what did they do to celebrate their success? They opened a chop shop in their hometown, specializing in custom lowriders. These boys are Chicano to the bone.

But it hasn't all been as smooth as horchata for the band that Ringo Sr. lovingly calls "the Mexican Beatles." They've seen their share of adversity. JoJo sustained a vocal cord injury in 2010 that made his voice raspy, which got worse the more he used it. It was serious enough that doctors told him he might never speak again, let alone sing. With the support of his hermanos, he was able to overcome it and sing on the band's 2011 album, Rockpango.

Calamity struck the band again two years ago when Henry fell from a stage during a show in Los Angeles, causing serious injury to his spine. Subsequent dates were canceled while he underwent a long, difficult recovery. His brothers were right there by his side.

With five albums now under their belt, Los Lonely Boys don't show any signs of slowing down. They've avoided the rock star pitfalls of runaway egos and self-destructive behavior and continue to write and perform from the heart. The ties that bind seem to give them strength rather than lead to the kind of enmity that drives a wedge into other sibling bands. Like when Tom Fogerty quit Creedence Clearwater Revival at the height of their success because his brother, John, was such an asshole.

Los Lonely Boys play the Top Hat Fri., June 3, at 10 PM, along with Ayron Jones and the Way. $30/$25 advance.

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