For the fact that Los Lonely Boys are around to headline this year's River Roots Live festival, some people might thank God - and the trio of brothers Garza certainly does that. But bassist/singer JoJo also thanked his brother Henry's pliability.
"I think it would've killed anybody else," JoJo said of Henry's horrific fall from a stage in February 2013. "I would have been dead. ... From the moment he fell in the hole, I thought it was completely over. ...
"We give a lot of thanks for Henry's natural ability to be very flexible as part of the reason why he didn't just crunch in half there."
But Henry's recovery has been slow. "Quite honestly," JoJo said in a phone interview last week, "he's not 100 percent still, and a lot of people don't know that. ...
"There really wasn't a time frame until the end of the year when there was a lot more rest going on," he added. "We tried to play a couple gigs here and there, and every time ... he'd swell back up and he'd be down for another three days."
Even singing was a problem: "The vibrations of his own voice are not very comforting."
The injury, JoJo said, put Los Lonely Boys on hold for much of the year, and delayed completion of the new album Revelation, which was released in January. He noted that while many fans talked about getting the guitarist/singer back on stage, it was more important to simply get him healthy: "A lot of things are really minuscule compared to the life. ... We were concerned more for him than the music."
The album was roughly half-finished at the time of the accident, and there's a line on "Give a Little More" that directly references the incident: "If your brother falls down ... ."
But more importantly, JoJo said, the experience provided an urgency to finish the album and realign the band's outlook: "You've got a lot more drive. ... There's a lot more appreciation for what we have, who we are - not just as bandmates but family members. ...
"As people, we tend to start in a sense to go on autopilot - walking around every day doing the same thing, going to work, getting up, paying the man, paying bills, eating, over and over, repeat. There's a diminishing of appreciation and really knowing what you have and believing that it's really special."
And that renewal is evident on the album, which has everything from pure pop to funky blues rock to roots music owing a debt to Los Lobos. AllMusic.com said the record finds Los Lonely Boys "revitalized. The Texan trio has never been constrained by genre, but here they let their imagination [run] wild, dabbling in every sound or style that's ever tickled their fancy, easing into proceedings with a teasing bit of traditional Tex-Mex ... before diving into every roots or rock style they've ever hinted at in the past."
Revelation marks the first time the band has employed outsider writers - which is surprising given that for nearly two decades Henry, JoJo, and drummer Ringo Jr. have written all the songs themselves, including their double-platinum self-titled album from 2004 and its hit single "Heaven."
"Where we come from, it's all in-house, it's all about the family, you don't bring in a lot of outsiders ... ," JoJo said. But "we feel like we proved ourselves to the point that we felt comfortable enough in our own skin to say, 'Hey, we've done enough on our own. Let's see what we can do with other people.'"
And while JoJo said it's gratifying that people still want to hear songs from the trio's breakthrough album, it can also be frustrating.
"Music is about being able to capture growth and maturation ... ," he said. "The music is about creating. It's not about staying solidified in one place in one time. Show me a tree that does that, and I'll act like that tree."
Los Lonely Boys will perform at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 16, at River Roots Live in Davenport's LeClaire Park. Admission is free before 5 p.m. and $10 after. For more information on the two-day music and rib festival, visit RiverRootsLive.com.
For more information on Los Lonely Boys, visit LosLonelyBoys.com.
The River Cities' Reader has previously interviewed other performers at this year's River Roots Live: Robert Randolph (RCReader.com/y/robertrandolph), Cracker's David Lowery (RCReader.com/y/lowery), and North Mississippi AllStars' Luther Dickinson (RCReader.com/y/allstars).