‘Latin Blues’ brothers ring in 2019 with pre-NYE show at Harvelle’s

By Bliss Bowen

Born out of the East LA music scene, the Delgado Brothers bring tight-knit musical synergy to the stage

The Delgado Brothers (aka the ‘Latin Blues’ brothers) are a uniquely LA band. Guitarist Joey Delgado cheerfully shares recollections of hanging around the living room as his older brothers Bob, Danny and Eddie jammed on guitar for an audience of pretty girls, at a time when everyone was inspired by the Beatles and Elvis Presley to learn chords and rock out.

In an active family of six brothers and five sisters, it was only natural that the Delgados would start playing together in various configurations around East LA. In retrospect, it was a fascinating and consequential period in LA music: the older Delgados were going to high school with members of Los Lobos while bands like Cannibal & the Headhunters and Thee Midniters were heating up East LA’s burgeoning rock ‘n’ roll scene, infusing it with R&B. Danny and Eddie Delgado were also playing in East LA bands like Thee Exotics and Thee Ambertones and Joey listened, soaking up sounds as he gradually became a formidable guitarist in his own right.

Fast forward, past the halcyon mid-1960s days of playing three or four school dances a night, to the other side of the Vietnam War, past the disco craze and personal struggles and inevitable industry setbacks. In 1984, Bob tapped Joey and younger drummer brother Steve to join him in a band playing the kind of gritty blues — Howlin’ Wolf, Freddie King — that inspired so many of the British rock bands that had originally inspired them to make music. They infused that with Latin grooves, soul and rock, and word got around about live shows fired up by deep grooves, Joey’s fretwork and Steve’s thoughtful lyrics. The lineup has long since solidified with invaluable Hammond B3 organist David “B” Kelley.

Go to a Delgado Brothers show now, and rocking songs like “Mama Crying” and the joyful “LA Ellie” will motivate your body to move. Their most recent album, “Two Trains,” opens with the similarly uplifting “Live for Today” (“You run around like you need so much/ Forget to feel the human touch/ …Time is a gift don’t throw it away/ I’m telling you now to swallow your pride”). Varying between rockers and earthy ballads, the album continues the Delgado tradition of celebrating spirit, community and above all family with tracks like “The River” (showcasing some beautiful, unexpectedly acoustic guitar passages from Joey), “Circle of Friends” and “Inspiration.” The brotherhood has held true.

The Delgado Brothers return to Harvelle’s (1432 4th St., Santa Monica) for a “pre-New Year’s Eve party” from 9 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Dec. 29. $12. Call (310) 395-1676 or visit santamonica.harvelles.com.

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