Doug Sahm is probably up in heaven with a bottle of Big Red in his hand and a huge smile on his face and bending God's ear about Tremoloco. Lonesome, On'ry and Mean has received an early warning that Tremoloco is returning to Under the Volcano July 22, after a 13-month absence. Composed of Los Lobos vets Tony Zamora and Cougar Estrada, longtime Dave Alvin sideman Rick Shea, and three - count 'em, three - ace guitaristas in Bob Robles, Mike Tovar and Juan Chacon, this outfit brings it full-force every song. Dance floors fill when the 'locos lay into a driving border polka or a bad-ass blues groove, and when the four guitarists have their say, the intensity is almost not believable.
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Other than just sheer talent and years of experience on the road, the real magic in Tremloco is the band's ability to reach into so many styles and genres without sounding like an overthought hodge-podge. The music effortlessly traverses every Southern musical border, weaving back and forth between conjunto, cumbia, blues, rock and roll, zydeco and Cajun country. And if you don't like crazy, jumping Mexican polka, don't go anywhere near Tremoloco. Lyrically, Zamora and his cohorts have a penchant for the humorous, whether it relates to everyday life as in the hilarious "Mi Novella" to the pitfalls of the night life in "Abuela's Lament," where Zamora implores of an over-served tequila drinker:
"If you must dance the devil's two-step At least stop playing with that gun"
A Tremoloco show is like a night just south of the border in Tijuana, Juarez or Nuevo Laredo. Or maybe Doug Sahm's living room.