Blues Mafia
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Blues Mafia

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"Blues Mafia Wins 2nd In Int'l Competition"

Blues Mafia from Austin, TX took 2nd place in the Blastbeat World Finals in Dublin, Ireland on Dec 6, 2008. - Blastbeat


"Blues Mafia in San Antonio"

"Music So Good It's Criminal" is their mantra and we couldn't have said it better ourselves. Most of them aren't even of legal age, so I guess it's fitting. Vocalist Sasha Ortiz is a mighty little thing...catch them live and you'll see what I mean. Serving up gritty Blues and deep, low-down Soul, this Austin based group has been busy taking their sound all over the US and Europe. Currently, this is their only San Antonio spot, so catch them while you can. -- Luna Live
- Luna Live


"Blues Mafia, Fredericksburg Standard"

by Phil Houseal
July 22, 2009

The backstory of Blues Mafia may conjure the plot of High School Musical, but these youngsters hold advanced degrees in wailing blues, rock and R&B.

Max, Kai, Chris, Pat and Sasha met at Rock Camps in Austin. (How come there were no Rock Camps when I was a teen? We’d get together and play Herb Alpert tunes.)

That was three years ago, when they were just kids. Now the band members range in age from 17 to 21. Yet they have the seasoned sound and resume of music pros. That’s no surprise to Sasha, singer for the group.

“Most of us have been playing since we were 8, performing live since we were 16, and traveled all over the world, so we have been doing this a long time,” she said. “I wouldn’t say we finished paying our dues, but we’ve played in some pretty crappy places.”

They showed enough talent and cred to win second in Blastbeat World Finals in Dublin last year. Now they have an 8-song original CD out and are packing classier venues, including the Roots Music concert at the Pioneer Museum this weekend.

The band members deny they are musical prodigies. But several have parents who were musicians, so they had early exposure to many genres of music. In fact it was a common love of Led Zeppelin that first drew the core together.

“We kind of had an obsession about them,” Sasha explained. “Of course the blues is something we all had in common. We loved Double Trouble and Stevie Ray Vaughan.”

But in their brief existence the band has brewed up a sound all its own that is drawing attention. “We play blues rock and roots music, with a little bit of soul in there,” Ortiz said. “We really try to stay true to roots rock.”

Sasha explained that they don’t really have a choice of what to play.

“My voice is really loud, so it is going to go in the direction of loud rock or country,” she explained. “I like county music, but that is not what we want to do. We love rock music. I think it’s fun, and there are not many female rock singers out there.”

In “Some Young Ladies,” she belts out her feeling.

Some young ladies like silver
Some young ladies like gold
I don’t care what some young ladies like
This young lady likes rock and roll

Listening to and talking with these kids shows the irrelevancy of age. I asked how they handle skeptics who don’t think teenagers could possibly understand, let alone play, the blues.

She thought for a moment, then skewered the idea.

“Blues is a feeling, it is not something you can put in a category and say only this kind of person can sing it,” she said. “I am singing what I feel and I can’t help what I feel.”

Music figures in the future of these youngsters, even if that means playing it with other groups. All but one are out of high school, and college looms. But Sasha has no doubts about her path.

“I’m making music a career,” she stated, while acknowledging how hard it is to “make it” in music. “What is making it, anyway?” she asked. “We are having a good time, picking up fans along the way, and making a little money. I think we are completely happy.”

Sasha has advice for other kids thinking of pursuing a music career.

“Remember why you appreciate the music,” she advised. “Do you just want to be a rock star, or do you feel if you couldn’t play you couldn’t go on living? If it’s that, go for it. If your parents support you, great. If they don’t, that just helps you write better songs.”

She also has a message for Fredericksburg blues fans.

“Definitely first and foremost we have a love for the Texas blues,” she said. “If you are ready to go see a young, refreshing show, there is no one like us out there, and you are going to see an exciting show. We take our music very seriously, but we still want to have a good time. For those that come out to see us, we hope they have a good time, too.”

from -- http://www.fullhouseproductions.net/ARCHIVE2009/090722Mafia.htm - Fredericksburg Standard


"Up & Coming, M. Moser"

“The oh-so-up-and-coming Blues Mafia is on the edge of saying . . . hello to the major leagues. These Austin School of Music grads boast well-schooled musicians like guitarists Max Frost and Patrick Mertens, bassist Kai Roach, and drummer Chris Copeland, but their calling card is vocalist Sasha Ortiz . . . her voice is commanding, soaring, sultry, and strong beyond her 20 years. Close your eyes and listen: nothing about their rootsy blues-rock sound suggests anything but dedication and professionalism. As easy to watch as she is to hear, Ortiz ought to be snapped up by the Antone’s stable, but she’s doing fine where she is.” - Margaret Moser, Earache Austin Music Blog, Austin Chronicle (Mar 02, 2009) - Austin Chronicle


"Discovery of the Week"

Blues Mafia, from Austin Texas, bring back the cool with their smooth blend of honest-to-goodness blues and sultry soul. The overall sound conjures images of an intimate bar, with a hazy cloud of heat and smoke and a beautiful singer alternately purring and growling into the microphone. It’s refreshingly new, yet has the comfortable feeling you get from music that has sprouted from established roots. . . . it’s only a matter of time before this band become a breakaway smash – chasing out the current penchant for rap, hip-hop and pop-tastic ballads and ushering in a new soul revival. - BalconyTV -- The View


"Blues Mafia at Luna Live"

Music So Good It's Criminal" is their mantra and we couldn't have said it better ourselves. Most of them aren't even of legal age, so I guess it's fitting. Vocalist Sasha Ortiz is a mighty little thing...catch them live and you'll see what I mean. Serving up gritty Blues and deep, low-down Soul, this Austin based group has been busy taking their sound all over the US and Europe. Currently, this is their only San Antonio spot, so catch them while you can.
- Luna Live


"Blues Mafia Comes of Age!"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What a difference a year -- and a whole lotta practice -- can make! Take Blues Mafia, the "teenager" band whose members blew away the competition at the Austin School of Music's Rock Camp USA Austin last summer. Based on their growth both personally and on stage over the past 12 months, it is a very good bet that this time next year they will be THE BUZZ at the 2008 Austin City Limits Music Festival.

It was just a year ago that Blues Mafia emerged from Dave Sebree's Rock Camp USA as the new kid band on the block. Lead singer Sasha Ortiz had just graduated from high school and was on her way to California before reassessing her options and deciding to stick around Austin. Guitarist Max Frost was just 14, and his voice was still changing, while drummer Chris Copeland, bassist Kai Roach, and guitarist Patrick Mertens were all 16 and headed into their junior year of high school.

The kids started out doing short sets for the city's movies in the parks program, the Paramount's Young Director's Cut Awards Show, a benefit concert at the firehouse in Manchaca, and, yes, at City Hall on New Year's Eve. The band really began to take off, though, after agreeing to host a monthly get-together of teenager bands at Jovita's. "Second Saturdays" (which sometimes happens on Sundays! here in Austin) brought out lots of players (including some elder statesmen of Austin rock!) and listeners for what soon became longer sets.

Every month, it seemed, Blues Mafia just got better. Copeland and Roach moved from one side project (Rubber Monster) to another (Joker, also featuring J. W. Wright), Mertens switched from his SG to a Stratocaster, Roach honed up his Clarence Henry voice for the band's version of "Summertime Blues" and he and Mertens upgraded their own harmony and lead vocals -- and Ortiz began singing on weekdays at major blues jams about town. The quintet also worked on their songwriting and performance -- and all but Ortiz spent another two weeks at Rock Camp.

The result has been nothing short of phenomenal. These "kids" are no longer a "teenager band" in Austin but a group of seasoned professionals who are both helping to build the future of Austin music among their peers and wowing audiences with their intricate rhythms, blazing vocals (including harmonies), and synchronized twin leads.

Their 17-song Friday night set at Jovita's opened with two originals, "Freedom Song" and "Alone," that reminded this ancient mariner of his days with Sixties Rock -- and then got everyone all shook up with a rousing rendition of "Jailhouse Rock." Later it was their brand-new "I'm on Fire" (funkier and slower till the jam at the end) followed by Stevie Ray's "Texas Flood." Max took the lead on "Killing Floor" and Patrick on "Outside Woman Blues," then Sasha was back leading the entire house in "(I've Got My) Mojo Working." My personal favorite, "Too Long," features an amazing solo by Patrick at the end, but then again "Waiting on My Love" showcased band member swapping leads one line at a time. "Higher" and "Devil's Jam" can be heard at their myspace page, and the final song of the evening was "The Man," which sounds (musically) like the Quicksilver Messenger Service version of Hamilton Camp's "Pride of Man."
- Flanfire


"Blues Mafia To Compete in Blastbeat World Finals, Dublin, Ireland"

Blues Mafia has won the Blastbeat South USA Region finals, earning them an expense-paid trip to Dublin, Ireland to compete in the World Finals.

www.blastbeat.org - Blastbeat


"R&B indie band combines youth, Motown"

by Chris Brown

Published: Friday, October 9, 2009

Updated: Friday, October 9, 2009
Blues Mafia

Courtesy of Rockslide Photography

Blues Mafia performs in American concert halls and competitions, but aspires to go on tour in Europe and release an album

An Austin band that calls itself Blues Mafia is challenging old misconceptions and clichés.

Blues Mafia’s music sounds like something off of an old Motown vinyl, which is surprising since everyone in the band is younger than 23. The group is so talented that listeners might think them to be a “supergroup,” put together by an R&B legend like Stevie Wonder.

In 2006, the band came together under the name Blues Mafia, and has been impressing people since. The group has a very mature understanding of music and style, which given their musical backgrounds is understandable. Several of their parents toured with musical greats such as Muddy Waters and Don Henley of the Eagles.

Sasha Ortiz, Blues Mafia’s lead vocalist, explained the group’s songwriting process as being very open and considerate of everyone’s ideas and contributions.

Ortiz said the band has difficulties reaching younger audiences, because it isn’t “hip” or “trendy.”

According to Ortiz, if Blues Mafia was a dish, “it would definitely be steak, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese.”

Her response is fitting, because the group is very straightforward; what you see is what you get. What audiences who attend a Blues Mafia concert get are five very mature – albeit young – musicians, who play a very solid and entertaining live show.

The band features solid drumming and bass lines, a singer who could be mistaken for Superwoman because of the power and endurance she displays at the microphone, and guitars that accommodate and work with the band rather than overshadow it.

Blues Mafia hopes to release their new album before going on tour in Europe, and they also want to play in next year’s South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and Festival.

Houstonians will have a chance to hear Blues Mafia live at 3 p.m. Sunday as part of the Houston Blues Society’s International Blues Challenge at the Continental Club. The competition, which runs from 1 to 5 p.m., will showcase some of Houston’s top blues groups, including Blues Mafia.

Tracks from the band can be heard at www.myspace.com/bluesmafiamusic.

from: http://www.thedailycougar.com/r-amp-b-indie-band-combines-youth-motown-1.1947219 - The Daily Cougar, U of Houston Student Newspaper


Discography

Blues Mafia EP / Ltd Edition (2008)
On The Shoulders of Giants (2009)

Radio:
Midnight Special Blues Radio (Dec '08-Mar '09) Selected Mar 11, 2009

Women of Substance Radio Show (Apr-Jul '09) Selected Jul 24, 2009

Jango Radio -- selected Aug 20, 2009

KPFT, Houston, TX, Oct, 2009

KACC, Alvin, TX, Dec, 2009

Photos

Bio

Sasha Ortiz, Chris Copeland, Kai Roach, Max Frost & Pat Mertens -- the members of Blues Mafia -- were first brought together by teachers at their music school as essentially a select team of musicians who were all unusually accomplished for their age. They quickly found that they shared a love for classic rock, old-school blues, funk, jazz and soul, and a desire to evolve that music for their generation.

Their initial gigs were at top Austin venues such as The Paramount, The Glenn at the Backyard, and First night, and they soon found a home base at Jovitas, a venue known as the launching pad for artists like Seth Walker, The Gourds, and Gary Clark, Jr. Over the past 3 years, they have played many of Austins top venues, including Antones, the Saxon Pub, Threadgillïs, Momos, and Tims Porch (formerly The Backyard).

In January 2008, they explored management and recording options in LA and played The Roxy, the AC Supper Club and Molly Malones. A win at the Blastbeat regional finals in May, 2008 got them tickets to Dublin for the World Finals in December, where they placed second and made friends with other young artists from all over the world.

A highlight of spring 2009 was a standing ovation for their performance at the Nina Simone Tribute at Austin's historic Victory Grill, a stop on the Chittlin' Circuit of yesteryear.

In fall 2009, they are concentrating on venues outside of Austin, such as Houston's famed Walter's on Washington, and San Antonio's upscale Luna Live. They were finalists in the 16th Annual Blues Challenge for the Houston Blues Society in October, 2009.

They paid for their first recording in the summer of 2007 through a win in a band competition, working with engineer Chet Himes at ASM studios in a session that resulted in a 3-song EP.

ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS, their debut album released March, 2009, was produced by Dave Sebree, again engineered by Chet Himes. All the songs are original, except for one written for them by Hudson Mueller of the award-winning folk duo, The Hudsons. The album title refers to the many artists the band admires who came before them. Some are known only around Austin, some are world-famous. Like many of them, the members of Blues Mafia fell in love with the blues and started playing professionally early on.