Steve Berlin, the keyboardist and saxophonist of Los Lobos, credits maturity and a shared love of Chicano rock as the main reasons for the group's longevity.
"We like the noise we make," said Berlin, who joined the group in 1984. "We started when we were kids, but we were all a little bit further along. We were a little bit more grown up than most bands when they start."
The Grammy Award-winning quintet - best known for its 1987 rendition of Ritchie Valens' 1958 smash "La Bamba" - has been together for nearly 40 years, and hasn't had any lineup changes aside from the addition of Berlin 28 years ago.
They are performing Sunday, July 22 (9 p.m. set) at Fusion Festival in Holland Park, taking a detour from dates in the American Midwest. Despite the busy road schedule, Berlin is thankful for the opportunities the band has had over the last four decades.
"I'm getting to do what a lot of people would pay zillions of dollars to do," he said. "It's kind of hard to whine about it."
This isn't the band's first festival in B.C.: they performed an 11-song set at the PNE in 2010 and returned to the province in February 2011, opening for Eric Clapton at Rogers Arena. This Remembrance Day, Los Lobos will return to Vancouver as support for Neil Young & Crazy Horse.
Berlin himself has been here three times since March to produce albums by such bands as The MatinÃ©e. "Honestly, if the border was easier to cross, I'd probably be living there," he said.
When the band returns to close Surrey's Fusion Festival, they will perform such songs as "Whiskey Trail," "The Train Don't Stop Here" and "Angels with Dirty Faces" off its eighth studio album, Kiko, which is receiving a 20th-anniversary reissue next month.
Berlin said he likes Canadian festivals because the crowd is more receptive to different styles of music.
"It seems like Canadians have a more open mind about stuff they like," he said. "It's not unusual to meet someone who's a big fan of, say, blues and electronica or Latin music and Nickelback."
And, of course, the band will perform what has become its signature song, "La Bamba," once parodied by Weird Al Yankovic in an ode to pasta titled "Lasagna."
"To a certain extent, it's an acknowledgement that you've made it when Weird Al takes time out of his day to parody you," said Berlin.
"We have our own parody version that comes out sometimes. We actually do it like the Jimi Hendrix version of 'Like a Rolling Stone.' Maybe we'll bust it out in Surrey."
Surrey's Marlin Ramazzini brings Afro-Cuban Latin sounds to Fusion Festival stage Saturday
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