Cowboys in the City — A Night with Mapache

Last weekend, San Luis Obispo was visited by two cowboys — Sam Blasucci and Clay Finch. The western duo called themselves “Mapache”; to the delight of the townspeople, the outsiders came with one purpose: to play their music and dance all night. News of their arrival spread about the town with gusto — it was the end-of-the-summer jamboree that couldn’t be missed.    
Crooning guitar and a sea of good-spirited people made for a jubilation; the people of SLO forgot their worries for a night and indulged in the cowboys’ tunes with the joyful company they’d stirred up. That night was truly a celebration of the little things in life — enchanting music, beautiful people, and a full dance floor.

Everything about the handsome strangers would make the likes of Willie Nelson or Neil Young proud — it’s amazing what some people can do with an acoustic guitar and a lot of weed. Their folk-ish sound effortlessly filled SLO Brew Rock with a sonic warmth that felt tangible in the air.

Mapache at SLO Brew Rock. Photo by Cole Murphy.

Who would’ve thought — the cowboys love Spanish! Though a majority of their songs were of the English tongue, many were sung in Spanish, too; covers of classic songs from Los Panchos like “Aquellos Ojos Verdes” and “Me Voy Pa’l Pueblo” tell the stories of green-eyed lovers and strolls through town at night. Mapache sang the crowd’s favorites like “In the Morning Light” and “Mountain Song”. Some danced with friends, others embraced the music with closed eyes — but nobody danced alone that night.

The cowboys were nice enough to talk with me before the show, too. Here’s how it went.

Robbie: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.

Sam & Clay: Absolutely!

R: How are you enjoying SLO? What are your thoughts on the town?

Sam: We love it. I think Clay has spent more time here than me, though.

Clay: It’s always a treat to be here. We pretty much just came straight here for the show. We’re gonna play tonight and stick around tomorrow to hang out for a bit.

R: Very nice. What’s it like being cowboys in the city?

S: Well, it’s hard to say. We don’t really live in the city anymore, actually. But, it’s pretty impractical. You don’t really know where to park your horse — all the problems you might expect a cowboy to have.

R: It’s pretty rare that an artist has a large portion of their discography in another language. I was checking out the music and I noticed how much Spanish there was. How does Spanish contribute to the sound and songwriting of your music?

C: I think we wanted to make music that reflected where we came from — Southern California. Spanish plays a large part in the culture of the area where we came from. Our stuff sorta sounds California-ish.

R: It’s funny you say that, I sent my Dad some of your songs and he said that the music, “sounds like the coast of California”. How does that make you feel?

S: That’s a good feeling. It makes sense, too.

R: I say favorite song of all time — what’s the first thing that pops into your head? Even if it isn’t your favorite necessarily, what was the first thought you had?

C: Ripple by Grateful Dead.

S: Anything off of What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye.

Mapache at SLO Brew Rock. Photo by Kelli Johnson.

R: What do you think is next for Mapache? Do you see yourselves messing around with different instruments?

S: We’re always looking to try new stuff. It’s a little intensive to learn new instruments now, as our brain capacities have certainly gone down since our formative years. We’ll probably ask our friends to come play with us — they all play different instruments. We love to have our friends play with us.

We’re just psyched to play with a full band tonight. We don’t get to do that too often.

Clay Finch

R: Well, we’re all looking forward to the show tonight. Thank you for talking with me and best of luck tonight.

S & C: Thank you!

Then they left as swiftly as they’d arrived, blessing San Luis with few but fanciful memories and a charm in its ear. 

As they set out on their horses, guitars neatly hung over their shoulders, they promised to return sometime; we await patiently to sink back into that night of serenity once more, whenever the pair might find themselves here again. 

Robbie Baker is .WAV’s Content Director. He wrote the article. Cole Murphy and Kelli Johnson are photographers for .WAV. They took the photos.