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The Pride of the Northside: La Mafia Celebrates Amor y Sexo

The Pride of the Northside: La Mafia Celebrates Amor y SexoEXPAND
Photos by Marco Torres

"Their music takes me back to The Unicorn Ballroom, dancing and drinking all night, really feeling the honesty of their sound" recalled my amigo Reverend Butter as we caught up over a few cervezas in the parking lot of The Gatsby (formerly the Drake) last night. "They are the band that made me fall in love with musica en Español!"

Every lover of Tejano music has a story about La Mafia. My own includes making mixtapes on cassettes in the pre-MP3 days, as well as dancing to their songs at the countless quinceañeras I stood in as a teenager in North Houston. From cumbias to corridos, huapangos, and their own special blend of keyboard-heavy modern norteño, La Mafia provided the soundtrack to backyard barbecues, long drives to visit family in the Rio Grande Valley, and the slow and low cruises down Irvington and Airline Drives on Sunday nights.

With new album Amor y Sexo due to be released next Tuesday, the Tejano legends will provide yet another reminder that they will forever be the Pride of the Northside. We spoke briefly with lead singer Oscar De La Rosa and bandleader Mando Lichtenberger Jr. during Thursday night's release party.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia (center, in uniform) with La Mafia.EXPAND
Sheriff Adrian Garcia (center, in uniform) with La Mafia.

Rocks Off: Congratulations on all of your success, guys. Its so wonderful to know that you are creating new La Mafia music for us fans. We have tons of respect for everything that you are doing. La Mafia: Thank you, man.

Amor y Sexo [Love and Sex] is the title of the new album. Apart from the obvious, what else can we expect from this new recording? Oscar De La Rosa: There's a lot of great stuff on this album. We took our time doing it, actually. We started six years ago on this album, and then we stopped. We didn't feel like it was working out, and the inspiration wasn't there at all.

Why? What happened? De La Rosa: I don't really know. We lost momentum. And then music as a whole was changing so much, we were stuck asking ourselves, "What do people want to hear?" So then two years after we started, we went back to the studio, recorded two more songs, and then stopped again.

And then finally, last year, we got back to recording, and everything suddenly clicked.

Mando Lichtenberger Jr.:: And to add to what Oscar just said, the songs that we recorded first, those were the complement tracks to the album, moreso than the meat of the album. It took some time to create the real substantial tracks that we needed to complete this project, and in the end, Amor y Sexo is better because of the delays.

Story continues on the next page.

 

Given that we no longer hear Tejano on the airwaves in Houston, and the fans are receiving less and less new content from Tejano artists, and a true Tejano artist has not performed at Go Tejano Day at RodeoHouston since the late 2000s...is it possible to say that Tejano is dead in Houston? De La Rosa: As long as I'm concerned and as long as I'm alive, our music is alive! We will continue to record and get on the road and...

Lichtenberger: You know, we got criticized a lot back the '90s when our sound became more international. We were accused of abandoning our roots. But we are known all over, from Argentina, Mexico, and all Central and South America, as a Tejano band. And we proudly wave that flag!

Tejano definitely needs new blood and new artists, and an overall makeover. And we are doing our part. We got so creative on this album, and if that serves as inspiration to other Tejano artists, then I think we have accomplished something special.

(L-R) Fox26 Morning News Anchor Rita Garcia and Houston Chronicle Entertainment Columnist Joey Guerra.EXPAND
(L-R) Fox26 Morning News Anchor Rita Garcia and Houston Chronicle Entertainment Columnist Joey Guerra.

What is your relationship with Houston and the Northside? De La Rosa: We are still there! We grew up in the Northside and our studio is there. We love it, always will.

Lichtenberger: We are proud of our neighborhood. Maybe someday soon we will do a street party as an appreciation to our fans and our neighborhood.

Rocks Off: Well, if and when that happens, we will be there for sure. Thank you, sirs.

The night continued with the band taking center stage in front of a packed room full of friends, family and fans. They began with a trip down memory lane, performing a set of their early and most memorable hits such as "Nunca," "Estas Tocando Fuego," "Vida" and "Me Estoy Enamorando."

It's very easy to get swept up with emotion when listening to La Mafia. A combination of nostalgia and pride is what we felt as we listened to the attendees sing each song word for word in unison with the band, as if it hadn't been five, ten, fifteen years since hearing these tunes.

Oscar himself held back tears as he recalled his personal inspiration for the song and album "Un Million De Rosas." He told the story of taking the last name of De La Rosa as a tribute to his mother.

They ended the night by playing two tracks from the new album. The first was "Provocación", a rock ballad with a strong guitar and bass line. The track begins with the following lyrics:

No me mires mas de esa manera si no te vas a entregar como me entrego yo. ("Don't look at me that way if you do not intend to deliver yourself as I do.")

The last song was the title track of Amor y Sexo, also a ballad but with a sweeter, more seductive tinge.

Love, sex, Hennessy, and La Mafia. An absolutely perfect combination to celebrate good music and good company, un million de rosas at a time.

More photos on the next page.

 

The Pride of the Northside: La Mafia Celebrates Amor y Sexo
The Pride of the Northside: La Mafia Celebrates Amor y Sexo
The Amor y Sexo Album Release Party was sponsored by Hennessy Latino.EXPAND
The Amor y Sexo Album Release Party was sponsored by Hennessy Latino.
The Pride of the Northside: La Mafia Celebrates Amor y Sexo

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