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Fun, fundraising for Cinco de Mayo at Last Name Brewing

Los FabuLocos brings its “Cali-Mex” sound to next weekend’s Dos Cincos Festival at Last Name Brewing, playing from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 5. 

The festival kicks off Saturday, May 4 with the Happy Neighbor Club from 1 to 3 p.m., Ryan Budds from 3 to 6, and Blue Hwy from 6 to 9 p.m. Last Name is at 2120 Porterfield Way, Upland.

A portion of sales from Saturday’s event goes to Claremont Little League, with money raised Sunday going to Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry.

Los FabuLocos is fronted by vocalist/accordionist Jesus Cuevas, and also includes Ray Aguilar on bass, Ruben Guaderrama on guitar, bajo quinto and Cuban tres, and Mike Molina on drums.

The band was founded in 2003 by Mr. Cuevas and Mr. Molina, who were previously in The Blazers, as was Mr. Guaderrama. “You can’t mention Los FabuLocos without mentioning The Blazers,” Mr. Molina said. The Blazers toured relentlessly from 1997 to 2002, both in the US and Europe.

But like many working musicians of a certain vintage, Los FabuLocos Mr. Molina, 57, had a choice to make after years of being away from home.

His three kids are grown now, and he’s heavily involved in the lives of his (gulp) seven grandsons.

“They have their sports and functions, and I really want to see those guys as much as I can,” Mr. Molina said. “When I was touring, I didn’t have a lot of time around my kids. Now I’m able to be around my kids and the grandkids and help them out. Really, we’ve all come full circle. My daughter’s appreciative, my sons are appreciative. They don’t agree, but I say ‘I wasn’t that good of a father, but I’m trying to be a better grandfather.’”

The joy of performing, practically a constant at the turn of the last century, is now heightened. The band plays only about twice a month, and usually close to home.

“Without a doubt,” Mr. Molina said, “I think we’re enjoying it more. It takes us more of an effort to do it, but we enjoy it. We’ve gone through a lot with each other, and have been there for each other’s families.”

It was a welcome change. Now a more than a decade into the new normal, the FabuLocos are now enjoying day-to-day of family life. “We still do Blazers songs,” Mr. Molina said. “But we’re off the road now. We don’t drive as much. We still go out to festivals, mostly around the San Antonia area of Texas, but they fly us out if we go out.”

The members vary in age from their late-40s to mid-60s. As one might expect, their priorities have shifted. They were asked to play a festival in Chicago in May, but had to turn it down because it happened to coincide with Mr. Cuevas’s son’s birthday.

“We respect that,” Mr. Molina said. “We’ve done enough. We don’t have to prove it. And the promoter that wanted us there said, ‘Maybe next year, Mike. We’d love to have you.’”

Mr. Molina was a relatively late bloomer in music terms. He started playing music in his 30s. “I was fortunate to start with a band [The Blazers] that was already signed to a record label and that was touring,” he said. “I was fortunate and unfortunate enough to do that. It was a lot of great experiences. Life is a journey, and sometimes I just say, ‘Wow, how did that happen?’ Here I am playing in Europe for Cinco de Mayo. Hey, the beer’s the same, man!”

Los FabuLocos is often described as a “Tex-Mex” band, “and those are good references,” Mr. Molina said. “But we have a new genre around here, we call it ‘Cali-Mex.’ It’s the West Coast cousin of Tex-Mex. Tex-Mex has more of a country feel to it. We have more or a rhythm and blues feel. And we throw in a lot of oldies but goodies as well.”

Los FabuLocos released its eponymous debut in 2008, and followed it up with “Dos,” in 2010. The band’s material is a 70/30 mix of covers and originals. And though they work the genre of Cali-Mex, its undeniable the band has a strong vein of Texas music in its repertoire.

“Jessie [aka Jesus Cuevas], he was the one that brought that in,” Mr. Molina said. “He was influenced by Flaco Jimenez, Zydeco accordionist Clifton Chenier, [legendary Texas organist] Augie Meyers, roots rock ‘n’ roll, but also Doug Sahm, from the Texas Tornados. We fell in love with a lot of this Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Johnny Cash stuff. Roots rock, man. We’ll also play some old traditional conjunto music, San Antonio style.”

The band’s set at Last Name Brewing is designed to get folks moving their feet.

“You’re gonna hear some roots rock, you’re gonna hear some oldies, and of course you’re going to hear some cumbias and rancheras, and some polka music,” Mr. Molina said. “These are all user-friendly rhythms.

“We invite everyone to kick up some dust, work up a thirst, and make some great memories, man. We’re in the good memory making business. Doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, let’s get together and let the good times roll.”

More info in Last Name Brewing’s Dos Cinco Festival is at lastnamebrewing.com/events.

—Mick Rhodes

mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

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