Los Angeles roots-rockers Los Lobos have many projects in the works — not all of them as a band. Co-guitarists Louie Perez and David Hidalgo are composing the score for a production called “Evangeline, the Queen of Make Believe.” Keyboardist/horn player Steve Berlin is producing and overseeing projects from young outfits such as Baltimore’s Bridge and Tapwater from his new home in Portland, Ore. Berlin, in a recent interview, mentioned that group has a 6-month-old album, “Tin Can Trust,” selling well, and an upcoming tour with Eric Clapton. They have donated their time to this weekend’s annual “Bill’s Birthday Bash” at The Fillmore, benefiting the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation.
You already have a “Live at the Fillmore” DVD. So Los Lobos have a pretty strong connection to that venue, right? Yeah. It’s one of our favorite places on Earth to play. It’s like a church, like going to Mecca if you’re a Muslim. You’ve got to be obeisant and observant and pay your respects, and try to honor the ghosts that are wandering around in that place. It’s just a really special place, so The Fillmore is a big one for us. It’s never taken lightly — let’s put it that way.
Have you sensed the presence of spirits there? Oh, god yeah! Definitely. You just know you’re in their presence. You know when you walk in there that you’re in the presence of something greater than yourself. And if you honor it, and do it right, they reward you. And if you screw up, as we have in the past, then you get punished. For the DVD, we did two nights there, and the first night was really about the worst show we’ve ever played. We didn’t honor the spirit. I don’t know what it was — maybe we came in with an attitude — but we sure didn’t do it right. We were smacked down, we learned our lesson, and then the next night was one of the best shows we ever played. So thank God the camera was rolling on two nights and not just one.
Did you ever meet the late Bill Graham? Yes. A couple of times. And he actually wanted to manage us back in the day, and I’m not sure why we didn’t do that at the time. Probably because he scared the hell out of us!
You were actually in a band that was signed to Casablanca, right? They were called the Beckmeier Brothers, in 1976. The band itself was good, but the producer surgically removed any funk, soul and groove until our album was terrible. But that set me on my producing career, because I figured there was no way I could screw up any record as badly as that producer did ours. But that album still follows me around — people find it and bring it to shows for me to sign!
IF YOU GO
Bill Graham’s Birthday Bash, with Los Lobos
Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd. San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.livenation.com