Tales from a Street Corner Confessional
'(Shawn Mafia is) almost as good as Bukowski at his best.' ... Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde) 'Shawn Mafia is the most lyrically potent songwriter in the industry today.' ... On The Edge Magazine 'Shawn Mafia, the high desert's PT Barnum of the wrong side of town!' ... Ted Quinn (singer/songwriter/activist) 'How about an album title 'Banned in Joshua Tree- Shawn Mafia.' Jeez, you can burn crosses, sacrifice virgins (if you can find one), eat babies, sell speed on the street, ride your 2 stroke through peoples gardens, build private golf courses on the dry lake! What in the f--k could Mafia have done to get banned in JT? He must be completely berserk! We better get his record!' ... Steve Lester (President of New Moon Records. In response to being pulled form The Wild West Coyote Festival, 2004.) 'With the persona of a carny barker's bastard preacher son out in front of the sideshow tent, Mafia is on a mission to tell stories you might not want to hear, about people you never wanted to meet.' ... Steve Brown (The Desert Post Weekly) 'Certainly Shawn Mafia's musical craftiness, aided by the affordable Ten Cent Thrills, and made comfortable by the added dimensions of the stage, brought forth such delightful music in the song 'Yearbook' that the head Lioness, wearing an 'Alice In Wonderland' Checkerboard hat, suffered a case of musical palsy while heading for the Miller tapper trailer.' ... Mr. Pete (Full Value Entertainment Revue) 'Get yer' arses off my stage! That's it! Your finished!' ... The Owner of Dirty Nelly's Irish Pub, Palm Desert, CA. 'Shawn Mafia may be a little rough around the edges, but he's also one of the most unique singer/songwriters and performers to come out of the desert. Part Bukowski, part circus sideshow, steeped in Steinbeck and Waits, Mafia creates songs of three-time losers and drifters down on their luck, unemployed gravediggers, and dimly lit corner bars with characters elusive as shadows.' . Judy Wishart (The Sunrunner Magazine) 'He sounds like a cross between Elvis and William Burroughs!' ... (Indie Label Rep. at Mystic Avalance A&R Showcase.) 'Who? No, no way ... I don't get it. Not traditional song structures ... nobody will get it!.' ... D. Jones (Capitol Records A&R Rep.) ................. AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT ... A roving vagrant or federal witness protection plan enrollee? A pocket beaten pack of Parliament lights sits on the night stand drawer next to a cracked brandy glass with two inches of cigarette ash and a crumpled dear John letter filling it's lipstick smeared glass belly. The radio alarm clock is unplugged. The torn shade is pulled. Somebody is banging on the wall and the cracks swell and threaten to grow wider, longer, more unpredictable, as the fist sounds closer to coming right on through the crumbling alabaster ... You could always see Shawn Mafia shifty eyed and hangover sharp, leaning against the newspaper racks out in front of the old, dilapidated Palm Springs bus terminal. And if you asked him, he would say he was $35.00 short on a $35.00 ticket. Then he would reach into his crumpled, tarantula black Salvation Army suit coat pocket and pull out an engagement ring still attached to the finger. His stare would solicit yours and he would growl, 'You popped the question to your sweetheart yet? You look like a chump in search of a diamond. This beauty cleans up real nicely. Get yourself a wet rag and the blood wipes right off! She won't notice the difference ...' When Mafia was 12 years old, his probation officer at the time, told him to get a hobby and stay off the streets. It was either joining the local 4-H club or learning to strum the guitar. He opted for the latter. I heard it told that he, at one time, toured with the Dreamland Circus Side Show, worked part time for Wiefel's and Son's Mortuary transporting dead bodies, could pick the winners in the first two races every time the horses ran at Del Mar, once killed a pack of wild coyotes with nothing but a used condom and a roll of duct tape, has seven toes on his left foot, was the Prepaid Legal representative in central Honduras, sold prosthetic limbs for farm animals, and once was the runner up at the Tulare County Fair for his interpretation of Frank Sinatra scuba diving in a martini glass. The last time I saw Mafia, he invited me to go have a few drinks. He knew this rundown roadhouse up in the Mojave High Desert, deep in the palpating heart of Landers, a microscopic town notorious for harboring ex-convicts, bail jumpers, meth labs, and all that nomadic riff raff driving the dirt roads into eternal damnation. 'This place is the goods, baby! Any ginmill that you gotta take two dirt roads to get to is my kinda joint!' Reluctantly I tagged along. As we parked his primer grey, 64' Chrysler, Newport in front and got out, Mafia lit a smoke, starred up at the 110 degree sun, cracked a seasoned smile, spit on the ground, and headed inside. As we made our way to the bar, we encountered a surly group of toothless, sweaty old men with their shirts off. One of them shouted, 'If bullshit was beer ... we'd all be drunk!' Everyone slapped there thighs and broke into dusty hysterics. The slim Indian barmaid with a bad lisp, mumbled something to us in Russian. Mafia lifted his long bony fingers and indicated 'two' and pointed soundly at the Pabst draft tap. He then hunched over the bar and began trying to hustle the guy next to him for the four dollars we owed on the drinks. He looked to be right in his element. ~ EDDIE, the ticket jockey at the Bakersfield Greyhound terminal.