Blue Rio
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Blue Rio

Band Latin Cover Band


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"Blue Rio serenades the River Valley"

Blue Rio serenades the River Valley

January 10, 2008 - 9:34PM
By Laura Tillman/The Brownsville Herald

At age 25, Danny Ortiz flew from Brownsville to Los Angeles, walked onto the stage of the Kodak Theater at the Latin Grammy’s, and gave an acceptance speech. He had been the lead vocalist on “Si Me Faltas Tu” for the Tejano music institution, Jimmy Gonzalez y El Grupo Mazz.
Though the Grammy’s are the pinnacle of most musicians’ careers, for Danny the experience was just an especially lucky streak in a longstanding family tradition.

In the Ortiz family, the musical gene has been passed from the vocal harmony and harmonica playing of Estella Ortiz Gonzalez, the paternal grandmother of the five children, to their father Eusebio who directs the choir of St. Mary’s Spanish Mass and has lead the Eusebio Ortiz Orchestra for many years.

All of the family members have an uncanny ear for harmony. As much as they are family to one another, they are also musical partners and friends.

With their clear chemistry, it’s no wonder that it took nearly a year after the siblings decided to form the group for them to finalize the other three carefully chosen members of what is now Blue Rio.

“We went through four drummers, at least, before we decided,” said Danny. Derek Jason Rivera, who they eventually selected, was in his own family’s band, Soul Addiction, before joining Blue Rio.

Lead guitarist Alex Mejia’s father was a pianist in several Mexico City bands in his own youth. Luis Caballero, the bass guitarist, is a department manager at Guitar Center, and says other Valley artists surround him every day.

The scrutiny involved in selecting the non-Ortiz members has clearly paid off. Claudia’s voice cascades with the quaking passion of an R&B singer on tunes like “Front Row” by Toby Lightman. Mejia accompanies her like they’ve been playing together for years.

“I think people are most impressed by how professional we are,” said Danny.

“And our presentation,” added Mejia, who, at 18 is the youngest member of the band. So far the group has played a number of private parties. They’ve decided to take their act to a public audience at Cobbleheads Bar and Grill in the upcoming weeks, with gigs planned for January and February.

“We do a variety of covers,” said Danny. “We try to do it all so that we can please everyone.”

But for Blue Rio, doing it all doesn’t mean the watered-down generic songs that many cover bands play. After they rip through an authentic rendition of “El Rey Tiburon” by Maña, the perfect doo-wop harmony of “My Girl” by the Temptations couldn’t be more shocking, or more impressive.

Danny says he’s not concerned about getting back to the Grammy’s.

“It’s like any band’s dream,” said Mejia. “But now we’re just trying to have fun and put out a good product.”

“Just to have a band and keep it together,” said Danny, “that’s hard!”

- The Brownsville Herald


1. Gypsy Kings Medley - Gypsy Kings;2. El Rey Tiburon - Mana; 3. Bendita La Luz - Mana;4. con Los Anos Que Me Quedan - Gloria Estefan;5. Neon Moon - Brooks & Dunn;6. Could Not Ask For More - Sara Evans;7. Sergio El Bailador - Bronco;8. Mazz Cumbia Medlay - Jimmy Gonzalez & El Grupo Mazz;9. Peaceful Easy Feeling - Eagles;10. Real Emotions - Los Lonely Boys.



Long-time musician and performer Danny Ortiz first imagined this project in 2006.  Shortly after, he luckily happened to meet guitar phenomenon Alex Mejia.  The two began to collaborate, and soon invited Danny's sisters, Claudia Palmenez and Sandy Ortiz, and brother, Rene Ortiz, to join the creative force they had begun.  Music has been a longstanding family tradition in the Ortiz family, and it wasn't suprising that the group had an immediate chemistry.  After some scrutiny involving choosing the other two members, the group finally found their missing links in Luis Caballero on Bass, and Rudy Salana on Drums/Percussion.  Now, Blue Rio has developed into an uncanny force in the music scene of South Texas, hoping to take their sound into other areas of the state and country.  Currently, they are working on an original compilation of songs that should be available in 2009.