A short run of shows brought folk rock band Mapache to the Central Coast in mid-May. The day after the band’s show at SLO Brew Rock and before heading up to Big Sur shortly after for Folkyeah’s Hipnic festival, Sam Blasucci walked into Linnea’s Cafe in downtown San Luis Obispo, carrying some new records he’d just picked up at Boo Boo’s.
Hanging out on the sunny outdoor patio of the coffee shop, I got to talk to Blasucci about his latest artistic endeavors, including his new solo album, “Off My Stars,” which was released on June 2, and his tour that began on July 14.
The tour is with Blasucci’s own band, nicknamed the “Sam Band,” and it started in Morongo Valley. While they’ve played short strings of shows around California, the two-week-long endeavor is the Sam Band’s first tour.
He mentioned how it seems like Mapache plays in San Luis Obispo all the time, although someone reminded him the night before our chat that the band’s last performance at SLO Brew was a year ago.
“We run around so much that it feels like we’re here all the time,” Blasucci said. His last show in SLO was more recent when he visited with the Sam Band.
Before he even thought of putting together this band, or releasing music under his own name, Blasucci had been writing songs for whatever outlet he saw fit.
When it comes to writing songs for Mapache and his solo work, Blasucci noted how “There’s definitely overlap in the writing of it all, a lot of the songs are written at the same time.” Given that each project has its own vibe, he said “It feels kinda natural how they split themselves up between the groups.”
In addition to Mapache, Blasucci has also played in bands such as Grateful Shred, The Liberty Street Singers and George is Lord. As with most artists who write their own music, he had a lot of songs he put away and held off on releasing.
Eventually, Blasucci saw no reason to store his music away, he said. Out of this desire to share his songs, Blasucci’s debut record was born, with a collection of songs written between 2019 and 2021.
“It’s kinda like a few different versions of me, I guess,” he said about the album. “A lot of it feels like a long time ago and some of it feels more recent.”
The lead single off the album, “Turn Yourself Around,” is one of the oldest tracks on it, Blasucci said. It was written in January 2019, over four years before it was released.
Along with the song, Blasucci also released a music video — a joint creation with his girlfriend, Nicole, who directed, and their friend, Roman, who starred in the video. It was also dedicated to Roman’s husband, Alfred.
“That song kind of became their song,” Blasucci said, “They would come out to our shows and that would be the one they’d dance to.”
The original plan was for the couple to star in the video until Alfred suddenly passed away shortly before filming.
They decided to continue with the video while making some changes so that it would be a tribute to Roman’s husband.
“All the things Roman was feeling and that we were all feeling about Alfred were at the surface of whatever we were capturing on camera,” Blasucci said. In the end, Roman was happy with his performance in the video, he said.
Once Blasucci had finished making the record, he put together a band of his friends and started playing his songs, a somewhat unconventional order of events, he said.
“It was odd cause I’d only ever heard them recorded, which is kind of the reverse of how I’ve always done it; usually we play the songs live for a bit and then go in the studio and record them,” Blasucci said.
When the Sam Band played their first show at The Chapel in San Francisco, they hadn’t rehearsed together, and Blasucci had never heard his songs live with a full band. It was a strange experience, Blasucci said, but exciting nonetheless.
“It was a completely different energy to the songs that I’d never heard before,” he said.
Being from northeast Los Angeles, Blasucci found himself surrounded by friends and musicians he’s enjoyed playing with — including bassist Rayla Delanova and guitarist Stewart Forgey who have both been playing in the Sam Band since its start.
Blasucci said he is looking forward to performing his new record this summer.
“Honestly, some sick part of me is excited about Las Vegas … I love Vegas but it’s not the most happening place for a small band to play a show,” Blasucci laughed. “But it always makes for some fucked up experience that ends up being fun, something to look back on.”
He’s also looking forward to the band’s last two shows in their hometown of Los Angeles at Permanent Records Roadhouse. Playing locally, after all, has given Blasucci and his bandmates plenty of opportunities over the years.
More information about the Sam Band’s tour can be found on Blasucci’s website.