San Antonio-tied Last Bandoleros changes lineup ahead of March 2 show at Aztec Theatre

click to enlarge Now a three-piece, the Last Bandoleros will release a new song later this month. - Courtesy Photo / Last Bandoleros
Courtesy Photo / Last Bandoleros
Now a three-piece, the Last Bandoleros will release a new song later this month.
The Last Bandoleros has parted ways with guitarist Derek James, but members of the San Antonio-rooted band say they’re excited about their new configuration, set to debut next month.

The revamped Last Bandoleros will play its first live show as a three-piece Wednesday, March 2 at San Antonio’s Aztec Theatre when the band opens for ’90s pop sensations the Gin Blossoms.

Last Bandoleros drummer Emilio Navaira IV — the son of the late Tejano legend who shares his name — talked to the Current from his home in San Antonio, where he’s gearing up for a move to Nashville to join his bandmates. Formed in the Alamo City during the 2010s, the group has built a steady buzz with a forward-thinking mix of styles, including power pop and Tejano, which the band christened “Tex-flex.”

The split with James, who shared vocal duties with the Last Bandoleros’ other members, was amicable and had been pending for a while, according to Navaira.

“He’s been on a different path, and he wants to pursue other things in life,” the drummer said. “It wasn’t a shock. We wish him nothing but the best.”

Navaira is a rock history enthusiast, so the discussion turned to another famous band who famously slimmed down from a quartet to a trio: Genesis. The British prog outfit even released an album called …And Then There Were Three….

Any chance Navaira will pull a Phil Collins and jump up front? After all, Navaira, like Collins, sings in addition to handling sticks for the group.

“I’m really happy playing drums in this band. Later on? You never know,” he said. “We might do a crazy mariachi record with all of us playing guitar and guitarrón.”

In the near term, though, the Last Bandoleros will release its first single as a trio, “California Moon,” at the end of the month.

“It’s lean and mean. We’re streamlining!” Navaira said, adding that the group will adjust vocal harmonies and arrangements live to reflect its new approach.

If anything, James’s departure may help the rest of the Last Bandoleros — guitarist and vocalist Jerry Fuentes and Emilio’s brother, bassist and vocalist Diego Navaira — rediscover their roots. The three grew up together in San Antonio, meeting James later in their journey.

“I’ve been playing with Jerry, Diego and my brother for 12 years. There’s something about the Texas thing,” Navaira said. “We grew up in the same time, in the same place. We know all the same stuff.”

The new lineup’s support of the Gin Blossoms comes as that band performs its New Miserable Experience LP in its entirety as part of a 30th-anniversary celebration.

$25-$50, Wednesday, March 2, 8 p.m., Aztec Theater, 104 N. St. Mary’s St., theaztectheatre.com.

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