The Collar City native returned home in May, touring alongside E Street Band member, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Gary Tallent. Since then, he and his Los Straitjackets have been busy touring with Marshall Crenshaw, played a Lincoln Center gig with Nick Lowe in New York City, and board the bus again to tour with Crenshaw in support of the band’s latest album, “What’s So Funny About Peace Love And Los Straitjackets.”
That tour brings him back to Troy for a show at The Hangar on the Hudson, Tuesday, Aug. 22, at 8 p.m.
What is funny about Los Straitjackets is the band’s most notable characteristic. Each member wears on stage a Lucha Libre mask, the kind you find professional wrestlers in Mexico wear when they wish to conceal their identity. As calculated as Angel appears to be with his time, those masks were not planned.
“I have to give credit to Danny Amis,” said Angel, for the idea of wearing the masks. “He loved Mexican culture. He was going to Mexico City all the time.
And, he had a big box of these wrestling masks once. When we were starting the band and rehearsing, [they] were on the couch. We all thought that they looked cool, and that was the only reason we wore them. Nothing more else about it.”
Except, that idea has stuck ever since.
The Grammy nominated band out of Nashville has its name on twenty albums over the past two decades. The band caught the attention of the Recording Academy in 2004 after a collaborative album with Chicago blues man Eddy Clearwater. “Which was pretty funny,” said Angel. Outside of its work with Clearwater, blues is one genre you wouldn’t mistake Los Straitjackets to be in.
Think of the movie soundtrack for the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film “Pulp Fiction,” that brought the ’60s surf rock sound back en vogue. By divine intervention, the Los Straightjacket sound is quite similar — just not surf-oriented. Nevertheless, when the band dropped its first album in 1995, it caught that wave.
That wave has thrust Los Straitjackets into the mainstream. If you’ve
“It was just dumb luck,” said Angel, who said he initially thought Los Straitjackets was just going to be a fun hobby, never thinking it would catch on like it did. “We didn’t have any real great plan. [The masks] looked cool, then one thing led to next. We started wearing matching outfits, matching guitars, and speaking in Spanish accents. It all just happened, little by little. There was no great, genius strategy.”
Once the tour with Crenshaw ends in September, the band picks up and starts touring with Lowe in October. The latest album’s name pays homage to the noted English power pop songwriter and producer’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding,” covered by Elvis Costello. The album was released in May to favorable reviews. Allmusic.com stated, “If you’ve ever dug the cool but fiery retro sound of Los Straitjackets, What’s So Funny… will once again remind you of their brilliant chops and sense of fun, while Nick Lowe fans will definitely want to give a listen to this homage to one of rock’s best living songwriters.”
For Angel, he said he doesn’t plan to rest this year. The touring schedule he said, is “pretty fun.”
“We just keep chugging along. We’re promoting a new record. It’s us doing Nick Lowe, and iterations of Nick Lowe songs. We’ve been working a bunch with Nick. … It’s been pretty fun, pretty busy.”
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