What: 17th annual Southern Brewers Festival.
When: 2 p.m.-midnight Saturday.
Where: Chattanooga Green; enter at corner of Chestnut and Second streets (at Hennen's and Courtyard Marriott).
Admission: $20 (includes one beer token, $3 for additional tokens, must bring ID to drink); free to children under 12.
Phone: 424-2000 (CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries office).
2:30 p.m. The New Familiars
4:15 p.m. Anders Osborne
6:15 p.m. George Porter Jr. and Runnin' Pardners
8:15 p.m. Railroad Earth
10:30 p.m. Los Lobos
By the time they've been together a decade, many bands have experienced at least some changes to their lineup due to arguments or members splitting off to pursue other projects. As they close in on almost 40 years together, however, the lineup of three-time Grammy Award-winning Latin rock band Los Lobos has remained almost unaltered.
With 27 years under his belt, keyboardist and saxophonist Steve Berlin is the group's most junior member. He left another group, The Blasters, to join Los Lobos about a decade after its 1973 formation in East Los Angeles.
Berlin said the trick to achieving such even-keeled longevity is as much in the band's philosophy of allowing its members to pursue side projects as in individual members' personalities and performing chemistry.
"I think a lot of it actually is the nature of who we are," Berlin said. "Everyone is still married to their first wives. We're not the sort of people who are constantly sampling and thinking there's something else better out there if we just keep looking.
"The five of us really are 'made for life' kind of guys. That's in our nature."
Although Los Lobos' lineup is unchanging, the band's approach to music is incredibly wide-ranging. Over the course of 17 albums, its members have produced songs that fall neatly into some categories, such as rock, country, R&B and traditional Mexican music, as well as pieces that straddle the boundaries between genres.
Berlin said a willingness to experiment has been hard-coded into the band's DNA since he joined.
"I was just kind of one more tool in the toolbox, one more sound to throw in the mix," he said. "Even then, we had this notion of, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we threw these sounds together and mixed and matched stuff?' That has always been the way we approached this stuff."
Saturday, Los Lobos' eclecticism will be on display when the band closes out the stage at the 17th annual Southern Brewers Festival on the riverfront. Last year, the festival attracted a crowd that swelled to more than 11,000 people and raised $150,000 for Chattanooga Kids on the Block, an advocacy agency that uses puppets to teach life lessons to children.
As with all their shows, Los Lobos is at its best and happiest when the view from the stage encompasses an audience moving to the beat, Berlin said.
And with so many records under its belt, Los Lobos has plenty of choices to reach that goal, including a hit 1987 cover of legendary Chicano guitarist Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba" that Berlin said they play at almost every show.
"The most rewarding thing is to look out and see the whole audience grooving and moving to the music," Berlin said. "That's when the connection is well set."