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Friday, September 2, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Ace Of Clubs

Willie & Lobo: When They're Not Surfing, They're Rocking

In the liner notes of flamenco/reggae/Cajun/gypsy duo Willie & Lobo's new release, "Fandango Nights," there is a criminally simple explanation for the tune "Rockin Gypsies." It reads: "This is what we are." It couldn't be more succinct.

Willie Royal, violin, and Wolfgang "Lobo" Fink, guitar, met in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, but actually came together in 1991 at Mama Mia's, a club in Puerto Vallarta. The club owner threw them together without rehearsal, and they've been together ever since. The duo has three common-held pursuits: Mexico, music and surfing. These guys get up in the morning, surf, grab lunch and a brew, nap and then play music with abandon into the night. When they have a new album to promote, they travel. Otherwise, it's an idyllic life for these self-described "rocking gypsy surfer dudes."

Last year the two released "Gypsy Boogaloo," which spent 10 weeks in the No. 2 position of Billboard's World Music chart. The new release is doing even better. Willie & Lobo's new tour has taken them to the famous Bottom Line in New York, Bumbershoot this weekend, and next Tuesday a club date at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. Europe and Japan are also on the itinerary.

"This tour has been going pretty well," said Willie by phone from Sarasota, Fla. The violinist was spending time with his son, Pablo, celebrating the youngster's sixth birthday. "I'm really jealous though," he said, "because I know Lobo is surfing and I want to be surfing! It isn't fair!"

The two write separately and together, drawing on their worldwide influences. Lobo is from Germany - Bavaria to be exact - and followed the gypsies of Spain. Willie was born in Texas, moved to Turkey and settled in Florida before making his way to Mexico.

Their music is fiery and frantic. Although the basis is flamenco, it can go in a half-dozen directions at any time. Mostly it's about strong, involving instrumental melodies and having fun.

"We're doing a lot of shows in a lot of places, so when it's over, I'm heading back to Mexico to surf, surf, surf," said Willie. "It's the best thing in the world to do. It's also the only thing Lobo and I ever got into a fight over. When I taught him how to surf, he liked it so much he wouldn't give me my board back."

Willie & Lobo will be in Bumbershoot's Caffe Starbucks at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. They play the Tractor Tavern Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

-- ELSEWHERE: The Backstage has Trance Mission - strangeness from San Francisco - tonight. Tomorrow it's talented singer/ songwriter Jules Shear.

-- Moe's has a couple of California super chefs from L.A.'s Border Grill restaurant giving demonstrations and cooking up bunches of Mexican treats tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. There's tequila, too. It's a $50 tab to benefit Janice Niemi for state Supreme Court. Supersuckers is tonight's musical Moe headliners. The Presidents of the United States plays tomorrow.

-- Lazy Susan plays acoustic tonight at the Croc with Kitchen Radio. Moris Tepper, ex-Capt. Beefheart, plays tomorrow with Those Darned Accordians.

-- And Jan Barrett is at the Eastside Comedy Club - the Kirkland Roaster House - tonight and tomorrow.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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