Los Lobos is returning to Lincoln this summer for the first time in nearly a decade. That alone would be big news.
But it's even more noteworthy because America’s greatest band will be headlining Zoofest -- by far the biggest act to play the annual July street festival celebrating the anniversary of the Zoo Bar.
“This is something I’ve been talking about for years,” said Zoo Bar owner Pete Watters. “I was talking to their agent and decided (Zoofest) is established enough, I can do it. Los Lobos is a band I’ve been trying to get for years. They’re truly one of the best things I’ve ever seen.”
They’re one of the best things I’ve ever seen as well -- and I’ve caught “Just Another Band from East L.A” more than a dozen times since listening to their 1983 EP “... And a Time to Dance.”
The Zoofest appearance, set for July 6, will be the third Los Lobos show in Lincoln -- at least by my recollection. The band, which made multiple Omaha stops in the '80s, played the Pershing Center in November 1996. The next time was in 2009 when it delivered a stellar show at the Lied Center for Performing Arts with sets that included Mexican folk songs, cumbias, covers, including “La Bamba,” and originals such as early rockers like “One Time One Night” and the more experimental “Kiko and the Light of the Moon.”
Los Lobos was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, but, in a typical rock hall travesty, didn’t get enough votes. But that snub does nothing to diminish the versatile, long-running band that has been making its Latin-rooted American music for more than 40 years.
Booking Los Lobos was the next step forward for the festival that has been held on 14th Street outside the Zoo Bar nearly every year for two decades.
“I think we’ve been going that way with Delbert McClinton and Irma Thomas,” Watters said of two recent Zoofest headliners. “I think we are getting pretty established. The agents know who we are and where we are. I think with those kind of headliners there will be people who come to Zoofest who have never been there before.”
Nikki Hill, the Southern fireball who scorched the festival two years ago with her high-octane rock ‘n’ roll, will headline Zoofest on July 7. Preceding her will be Dale Watson, the Ameripolitan music master who has become a Lincoln favorite, and blues guitarist Tommy Castro and his band the Painkillers.
The full Zoofest schedule:
5 p.m. -- Evan Bartels & The Stoney Lonesomes
7 p.m. -- Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials
9 p.m. -- Los Lobos
11 p.m. -- Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal
1 p.m. -- Blues Education Program
3 p.m. -- Hector Anchondo
5 p.m. -- Red Elvises
7 p.m. -- Dale Watson
9 p.m. -- Tommy Castro & The Painkillers
11 p.m. -- Nikki Hill
Bringing in Los Lobos will necessitate an increase in Zoofest ticket prices. Tickets will be $30 ($35 day of show) for July 6 and $25 ($30 day of show) for July 7. A two-day pass will be available for $50. Tickets go on sale on March 1 at zoobar.com.