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Los Lobos, John Mellencamp hit the road

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It already was shaping up to be a typically busy fall for Los Lobos.

Then John Mellencamp reached out to the band with an offer to open for him across America.

“We really had to think about it,” says Los Lobos saxophonist Steve Berlin.

That’s because the opportunity would have clashed with the band’s regular San Francisco and southern California shows around this time of year.

“And these things were all booked and advertised,” he adds.

The opportunity to play in front of a different audience, and in places where the band had never been, prompted Los Lobos to accept Mellencamp’s offer, according to Berlin. The Mellencamp/Los Lobos tour kicked off Oct. 26 in Terre Haute, Ind.

“We’re opening for him, so we get 45 minutes,” Berlin explains. “It’s his show. This is very clearly John’s tour, John’s show, and he was gracious enough to invite us along.”

As the tour progresses, look for the possibility of onstage collaboration.

“It’s been discussed,” says Berlin. “I think he’s ready to go, and we’re a little behind. I think the infrastructure question was one that was not really thought out before the offer was made — in other words, how exactly do two bands play together, when we’re standing in front of their gear? Once all of those details are figured out, then we’ll just rock on.”

— By Chris M. Junior

John Mellencamp and Los Lobos on tour (schedule subject to change):

* Nov. 1: Memorial Coliseum — Fort Wayne, Ind.
* Nov. 2: Seagate Convention Centre — Toledo, Ohio
* Nov. 3: Conseco Field House — Indianapolis
* Nov. 6: Alliant Energy Center — Madison, Wis.
* Nov. 7: Alltel Center — Mankato, Minn.
* Nov. 9: Wells Fargo Arena — Des Moines, Iowa
* Nov. 10: Tyson Events Center — Sioux City, Iowa
* Nov. 11: Qwest Center — Omaha, Neb.
* Nov. 14: Metrocentre — Rockford, Ill.
* Nov. 15: Scottrade Center — St. Louis
* Nov. 29: Louis J. Tullio Arena — Erie, Pa.
* Nov. 30: Bryce Jordan Center — State College, Pa.
* Dec. 1: Wachovia Center — Wilkes Barre, Pa.
* Dec. 4: Blue Cross Arena — Rochester, N.Y.
* Dec. 6: Verizon Wireless Arena — Manchester, N.H.
* Dec. 7: Mohegan Sun Arena — Uncasville, Conn.
* Dec. 8: Times Union Center — Albany, N.Y.
* Dec. 11: Cumberland County Civic Center — Portland, Maine
* Dec. 13: Dunkin Donuts Arena — Providence, R.I.
* Dec. 14, 15: Borgata Events Center — Atlantic City, N.J.