Cruz Roja of Chapala raised $320,000 pesos at LCS concert Wednesday
Lupita Jimenez entertains the sold-out crowd.
Patrick O’Heffernan Ajijic (JAL) The sold-out Wednesday afternoon concert starred Lupita Jimenez, Roy Cruz and SAGREY and featured awards, door prizes, opportunities to underwrite a Cruz Roja table at LCS, plus free-flowing alcohol and appetizers. But the real star was Cruz Roja.
Produced by LCS-Board Chair Steve Balfour – who celebrated his birthday at the concert – the event was classily designed with white tablecloth seating, waiters serving delicious appetizers and tequila and a program packed with talent and events. But the focus was on rebuilding Cruz Roja, financially hurt by the Covid crises that prevented its fundraising events, helping it build a badly-needed new facility to treat patients. The LCS concert kicked off a new fundraising campaign for Cruz Roja, netting $320,000 pesos.
Yolanda Martinez address Mexicans and Expats, thanking them for their support
Sponsors included Jose Cuervo, Semanario Laguna, Pancho’s Deli Market, and Ray Domenech of Casa Domenech and Angelica’s restaurant. The audience was both Mexican and Expat and the language from the stage was both English and Spanish so everyone felt at home.
The concert opened with Ajijic’s Mexican folkloric troupe performing traditional dances in colorful costumes as cameras clicked and whirred. Next, local Mexican singer Lupita Jimenez, a long-time friend and supporter of Cruz Roja, was introduced and let loose with classic Mexican songs and a few American Standards, and got the crowd singing with her – Expats and Mexicans together in Spanish.
As the applause died down, Yolanda Martinez, President of Cruz Roja Chapala, mounted the stage, almost dwarfed by the huge red cross podium. She thanked the packed crowd for their generosity and then welcomed the National Cruz Roja Vice President and translated his address. The architects for the new facility then walked the audience through the design process, and urged them to look at the plans for the new Cruz Roja medical facility arrayed around the Lawn on easels.
Roy Cruz brings the Freddie Mercury story to LCS
Freddie Mercury imitator Roy Cruz, put on a preview of his coming July 25 performance at LCS, singing Queen’s classics, moving around the crowd, urging them to join him in song and even welcoming a super Queen fan who had traveled here to see him. The local band SAGUEY, fronted by blues/jazz singer Barbara Saguey, kept the crowd dancing until well past closing time.
The music was broken up, however, with a door prize drawing for prime bottles of tequila, an opportunity for people to get together to pledge $40,000 pesos for a new LCS table for Cruz Roja (they did), and a birthday cake for LCS-Board Chair Steve Balfour.
The concert was a one-time event to launch Cruz Roja’s fundraising season, but the need to support Cruz Roja is ongoing. With a monthly budget of $300,000, Cruz Roja ‘s ambulances and food and health services serve everyone but are a lifeline to the poor in Lakeside because it charges no fees for its services, relying on donations for its operations and to build a fund to construct a new facility.
Donations of any amount can be made by dropping them off at Yoly’s Unisex Styling Salon, next to El Torito market in Ajijic or at the Cruz Roja Chapala headquarters in Chapala next to Christina Park.
One-time only concert at LCS to benefit Cruz Roja next Wednesday
Cruz Roja Chapala.
Big names Roy Cruz, Lupita Jimenez, and SAGREY promise to wow the crowd at a benefit for Cruz Roja next Wednesday June 9, in a special LCS Concert on the Lawn.The concert marks the launch of the 2021 Annual Collection of Cruz Roja, which was cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Interim Municipal President, Isaac Alberto Trejo Gracián, opened the drive by depositing his donation in one of the organization’s collection piggy banks.
Headlining theLCS benefit concert for Cruz Roja are Roy Cruz who packs clubs in Puerto Vallarta with his famous impersonation of Queen frontman Freddy Mercury, and Lupita Jimenez, the official singer at Hacienda Tequilera José Cuervo and at Mansión Tequila Guadalajara. Wrapping up the star-studded concert is Ajijic’s own SAGREY, fronted by Barbara SAGREY, who fills local venues like Casa Domenech and #9 with her bell-clear and softly seductive jazz vocals.
LCS has opened its Lawn to the Chapala-based organization to raise funds lost last year when its annual fundraising events were cancelled. This year, the Cruz Roja Fund Drive will involve multiple events held in open spaces to protect attendees and staff, since the pandemic is not completely over, according to Cruz Roja Board President Yolanda Martínez Llamas.
There will be only one performance of the Benefit concert Wednesday, and LCS recommends getting tickets early and arriving early. Tickets are $500 pesos for seating on the Lawn; the funds go directly to Cruz Roja as a donation. Purchase tickets at LCS office or at the door. Concert begins at 4 pm and will run until 7 pm. Semanario Laguna is a concert sponsor.
The Princess of Soul takes Lakeside by storm
Dona Oxford at Cuatro Sentido.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. JAL. Princess of Soul and Queen of Boogie-Woogie Doña Oxford came to Ajijic for a quiet vacation and a single concert that turned into a moving music fest with two public jam sessions with local musicians.
Oxford is a world-touring Soul and Blues keyboard player and singer/songwriter who has played with Albert Lee, Keith Richards, Van Morrison, Roger Daltrey, Buddy Guy and many more. She has performed in 25 countries and 48 states, released 4 albums of her own, played on numerous Grammy and Handy-winning albums and movie scores, and is about to start production of her own TV variety show. The trip to Ajijic was her first visit to Mexico and the San Antonio Tlayacapan concert her first and only performance in Mexico.
Dona Oxford singing backup with TzinTzui for Grizz Pina at El Barco.
The concert at Cuatro Sentido, sponsored by Laguna and produced by local promoter and musician Christine Philipson,was Oxford’s only scheduled performance in Mexico. She was joined onstage by Klaus Meyer on saxophone, Javier Villaseñor on guitar, Tony Valle on bass, Iván Ramírez González on drums, and backup singers Andrea Pérez Romero and TzinTzuni Varela. It sold out quickly and a long waiting list quickly developed.
Oxford delivered two sets of big volume rock, blues, boogie, and soul that entertained people in the farthest reaches of the restaurant and beyond. Her high energy tunes like “Rock, Rock, Rock” and “Doe’s Boogie” pulled people out of their seats and onto the dance floor. The event went off smoothly despite the waiting list and last minute arrivals. The music flowed joyfully although Oxford had met her Mexican band only one day earlier and had less than 3 hours of rehearsal – a testament to the skill level of local musicians and Philipson as a producer.
The following night Oxford joined friends at Casa Domenech for dinner and to enjoy Bárbara Sagrey and her band. Of course Oxford was invited to jam with the band and she happily obliged, borrowing the keyboard and getting the entire room singing with her on “Tanqueray” and then moving to the microphone for duets with an ecstatic Sagrey to a cheering audience.
The next night she dropped into El Barco to see her concert guitar player Javier Villaseñor and his blues band play. Oxford accepted the invitation to join in, followed by backup singer TzinTzuni and later, Blue Jay Slim, both of whom were in the audience. Oxford borrowed the keyboard from Christian Jimenez for a couple of songs, and then joined him for four-handed numbers. She sang with vocalist Grizz Piña and then harmonized backup for Piña with TzinTzuni . The rest of the band – Klaus Meyer on sax, Chelo Gonzáles on drums, Sergio Casas on bass, jammed along while the audience danced, sang and cheered.
“I had a blast. I love Ajijic and Lakeside – I will be back”, Oxford told the crowd. We sure hope so.
Thank you all for such a wonderful trip to Mexico.
I loved playing with you and hope to see you again soon.
“Real Theater” returns to Lakeside Little Theater with Quarantine for Two, opening March 25
Poster for Quarantine for Two.
Patrick O’Heffernan, English Editor. After being off the stage for an entire season, Lakeside Little Theater will present a fully realized play – actors, costumes, stage, props – all in a socially distanced, Covid-19 safe, specially-built outdoor theater on the Angel Terrace.
Appropriately entitled Quarantine for Two, the play written by Hy Conrad who has generously allowed LLT to produce it, will feature three actors live onstage, six live by Zoom, and three projected onto a screen. The stage will be specially constructed under the awning on the Angel Terrace with the audience seated outside in socially distanced chairs and mandatory masks.
The dark comedy speaks to our times. After months of quarantine, the recently retired Oscar Ebersol and his wife Ruth are driving one another nuts and are ready to kill each other. A chance encounter with a stranger turns their world upside down and someone is likely to end up dead!
On stage will be Peter King as Oscar, Monnie King as Ruth, and Brian Fuqua as Marty the disruptive stranger. On screen will be Johanna Labadie and Gabriel Casillas and the Zoom party will feature Donna Burroughs, Randy Warren, Araceli Kopiloff, Brian Mattes, Carlos Rodriquez, and JeanMarie Harmon.
Quarantine for Two will run from March 25 through April 2, with no show on March 29. All productions will begin at 7:30 pm except for Saturday and Sunday, March 27 and 28, when curtain will be at 4 pm.
LCS Annual General Meeting. “We almost closed, but we are stronger now”
Lake Chapala Society 2020 budget projection showing a project loss of over $221,000 pesos. The actual deficit was over $300,000 pesos.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. “We almost closed,” LCS Board President Stephen Balfour told the LCS Annual General Meeting Tuesday, reporting to the members gathered online that “during June and September we were at a high risk of closing – we were looking at being $1.3 million pesos below budget at the end of the year. We were exploring selling the Wilkes Center, laying off our staff, and even closing and selling the campus – we faced the possibility of closing for good.”
But the members and donors of LCS came through with a jaw dropping $2.3 million pesos in donations– fr more than its projected donations budget – which not only staved off the end of LCS, but to enabled it to emerge stronger and ready to raise funds to move ahead with is new LCS 2.0 growth plan.
“We have emerged from 2020 stronger – we are prepared not only to do things right, but to do the right things,” new Executive Director Luis Pacheco told the Zoom audience of over 150 people.
Tuesday’s Annual General Meeting was Pacheco’s first Annual General Meeting (AGM ) and it was a trial by fire for the new ED, as he took over the reins after the worst year in the organization’s history. In 2020 LCS lost over 1000 members, had to close the campus to meet Covid guidelines, postponed all of its expansion programs, lost its important trip and program revenue, and ended the year with an deficit of over $300,000MX. But LCS survived and Pacheco is determined that it will grow and prosper – with continuing help from members and donors.
“What we can do now is live within our hope,” LCS’s first Mexican ED told the members, as he laid out plans for improving and modernizing LCS, and expanding its engagement and collaboration with the Lakeside Mexican community.
Members received a report from Treasurer Timothy Boardman showing the pace of donations and the deficit from last year, a report from Education Director Alfredo Perez describing new Spanish language classes and Personal Enrichment classes including an upcoming program on how government works in Mexico, LCS’s support for 40 Mexican students, and LCS volunteer work with local schools . Development Director Diana Ayala explained the LCS emails about the pandemic, the upcoming 2021 Directory, and the project to improve the LCS computer system with help from the Instituto Technologico Superior de Chapala.
The staff and board laid out the highlights of LCS 2.0, its 10-yer plan for growth and development, previously approved by the Board but put on hold. LCS 2.0 has 42 goals in 5 categories and is led by the twin drives to improve and grow the organization’s programs and resources for members and dramatically increase engagement and cooperation with the Mexican community of Lakeside. Part of the plan is a capital campaign that seeks donors of any amount, but especially those who can give $40,000 pesos during the campaign, and an effort to rebuild membership, including its nascent Lapsed Member Program that calls former members to encourage them to rejoin even if they are not in Lakeside at present.
The AGM, usually a somewhat routine program that draws mostly highly dedicated members, was stocked with surprises, vital information, and new initiatives. Among the new announcements was the incorporation of Open Circle – formally a separate organization – into LCS with live meetings in July, the announcement of a new Master Marketing Council, the re-election of the Treasurer and five at-large Board members, information about the Concerts in the Park program with a hint of plans for music into September, the establishment of a Mexican Advisory Council, and a small increase in membership fees.
LAKE CHAPALA Concert brings popular Mexican singer to Ajijic: more coming up
Enrique de Allende finishes the Concert in the Park with “You Raise Me Up” while LCS Board President watches from the side.
Patrick O’Heffernan, English Editor. A nearly full house greeted Enrique de Allende and his piano accompanist last Saturday as he strolled onstage, flashed a 1000-watt smile and greeted the audience with a bit of his personal story delivered in the signature smooth golden voice before kicking off over an hour of music.
He gave the audience thirteen songs, mostly golden age covers, but some Spanish songs and Spanish versions of American classics, interspersed with conversations, shout outs to his girlfriend at one of the tables and expressions of gratitude to LCS for allowing him to sing in front of an audience – a treat he has been missing due to Covid.
Beginning with a classical love song in Spanish, his operatic tenor filled the lawn and the gazebo. He wrapped up the concert with the 2001 Secret Garden song “You Raise Me Up” in English and was brought back for an encore, the Spanish “Ver A Mi”. Early in the concert he took off his jacket in a concession to the heat, revealing the muscular body that carried him through an Olympic-level soccer career before he turned to music. The entire performance was livestreamed on the Facebook pages of both Semanario Laguna and Lake Chapala Society.
Enrique de Allende kicks off the Concert in the Park with a Spanish love song
Some audience embers interviewed by Laguna did not know who he was before LCS promoted the performance, but signed up for the concert because they, like Enrique, craved live music and looked forward to a sunny afternoon with friends and drinks and food from Angelica’s. Audience comments to Laguna afterward were along the lines of “a gorgeous voice from a gorgeous man singing songs we know and love – bring him back!”
Next week LCS is bringing back Kim Kuzma and her band, a frequent visitor to Ajijic. Voted Canada’s Best Independent Artist by fans at canadian-music.com and five-time West Coast Music Award nominee, winning ‘ Best Independent Recording’, Kuzma is an international singing sensation whose music and sassy stage conversations with audience members makes her performances at LCS a golden ticket sellout. Tickets will be limited to 100 seats for each performance, advanced purchase only. No tickets sold at the gate. VIP tickets (50 seats, features prime location with table): $500 MXN General Admission tickets (50 seats arranged in rows) are priced at $350 pesos. There will be 2 performances, 2pm and 4:30 pm.
The Concerts in the Park Series is not only a welcome diversion for Ajijic residents but, given the fall off in membership this year at LCS due to the pandemic and many members not being able to come to Ajijic from Canada, the income is important to LCS.
Lake Chapala Society Concert series brings in talent, money
Spencer Day and Effie Passero at LCS Concert in the Park.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. A full house – or lawn – greeted Spencer Day, Effie Passero and Zoe Wood as they made their way to the outdoor stage on the LCS lawn last weekend. They returned the love with favorites like the Beatles “Come Together”, and the Mexican classic “La Llorna” plus a slew of applause-generating originals like “Movie of Your Life” And “My Prometheus”.
The packed chairs’ and tables were in response to the popularity and fame of the leads; Spencer Day is a Billboard #1 modern jazz singer and songwriter best known for his hit jazz single «Till You Come to Me» as well as appearing on the CBS television network show Star Search . Effie Passero was an American Idol star. Originally trained in opera, she is well known in the US and Puerto Vallarta for her powerful vocals and joyful stage presence. Zoe Wood is an in-demand singer/guitarist/composer Puerto Vallarta music scene.
The musicians performed two shows, keeping their energy up at a high level, receiving standing ovations at the end of each set, and staying after each show to chat with LCS members. The concert was held on the grass and in the gazebo with all audience members socially distanced and masked (except when drinking and eating the snacks and dinners provided by Chef Ray Domenech from Angelica’s Café at LCS.
Strolling the grounds during both concerts was Luis Pacheco, new LCS Executive Director, beaming because he not only loved the music, but he loved to see the full VIP tables and gazebo audience.
“Yes, we are making money on the concerts: after expenses and paying the artists we will raise funds for LCS,” he told Laguna. Given the fall off in membership this year at LCS due to the pandemic and many members not being able to come to Ajijic from Canada, the income is highly welcome, as is the music.
The series will continue Saturday March 28 with Kim Kuzman band, a favorite of the Lakeside LCS community. LCS will produce 2 performances, 2pm and 4:30 pm. Tickets will be limited to 100 seats for each performance, advanced purchase only. No tickets sold at the gate. VIP tickets (50 seats, features prime location with table): $500 MXN General Admission tickets (50 seats arranged in rows) are priced at $350 pesos.
Little Lakeside Theater ART production of Moonlight and Magnolias opens at this weekend
Moonlight & Magnolias 2020.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic). – Little Lake Theater’s Ajijic Readers Theater (ART) will open the laugh-out-loud comedy Moonlight and Magnolia this weekend, in matinees Oct. 16, 17, and 18.
Presented by special arrangement with Dramatist Play Services of New York, the play is inspired by actual events surrounding the behind-the-scenes story of Gone with the Wind as seen through the eyes of producer David O. Selznick, director Fleming and writer Ben Hecht.
The play, a live read by LLT actors, opens with the film’s producer five weeks into the shoot of Gone With Wind when he realizes that the script is awful and the director doesn’t have a clue. Over the next five frantic days the script is rewritten by a writer who has not read the book, resulting in some of the most hilarious situations in modern drama.
Tickets are available for all performances at 150 pesos at the box office. Covid protocols including social distancing will be in place.
This weekend is the Studio Annual Art Walk in Ajijic
Redacción. – Each February, the Art Society of Ajijic offers an opportunity for local artists and craftspeople to let the public see and buy their work in a unique two-day event. Over the past eight years this event has grown beyond Ajijic and now includes surrounding towns. This weekend the Ajijic Society of the Arts’ 9th Annual Studio Art Walk will visit over 30 locations throughout Lakeside and art walkers will have the opportunity to meet close to 100 artists in mixed media, oils, acrylics, photography, sculpture, jewelry, handicrafts and more.
Some artists in the Art Walk will be displaying their work in their own studios, while others will be hosted by other artists, art collectors in their homes, or business such as restaurants, with some locations featuring several artists. A full-color. 50-peso catalogue of the artists serves as the ticket to Art Walk. The catalogue also includes a map of the Art Walk locations and photos of art on display. The Art Walk takes place Saturday, Feb. 22 and Sunday Feb 23 and runs from 10 am to 4 pm each day.
Funds raised will go to support the Lake Chapala Society’s (LCS) Children’s Art Program founded in 1954 by Neill James. The Program has helped thousands of Mexican children explore their creative talents and has produced many well-known local artists and has helped position Ajijic as a center for art. The legacy of this program can be seen in the lives and paintings of its many famous graduates whose murals now adorn public buildings and beautify villages in the area.
ASA Art Walk Catalogues are available at the Lake Chapala Society, the Art Connection in Centro Laguna Mall, Superlake Market, Diane Pearl Colecciones, Ken Gosh Galleries and the LCS Café.