Former film and TV star and Playboy Club singer to be featured in Lakeside Little Theater Legacy video series.
PEGGY CHILTON ALBUM COVER.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. Lakeside resident and former film and television and singing celebrity Peggy Lord Chilton will be the star of the Lakeside Little Theater’s Legacy video series this month. Chilton has a long career including acting in 17 films – several shot in Mexico, numerous television shows, a popular folk singer opening for Peter Paul and Mary and the Kingston Trio, and a tour of Playboy Clubs across the nation as a singing comedian. She moved to Lakeside in 2009 and has directed or appeared in numerous LLT productions, including Pajama Game and Nunsense, and plans to stay involved as a director or actress.
In a pre-interview conversation, Chilton – once known as “the Lusty, Trusty, Buster” – described parties at the Playboy Mansion, meeting Phyllis Diller for gossip in an alley between nightclubs, how her pet ocelot protected her, and being told early in her career by one club owner he hoped she was better that the previous singer, someone named Barbara Streisand.
Produced by JeanMarie Harmon, and filmed and edited by Jim Jack, the Lakeside Little Theater Legacy Project is a YouTube video series featuring some of the legacy talent in Lakeside to give a quick peek at their lives before and during their time at LLT. Currently, the series is featuring Broadway dancer, actress and choreographer Barbara Clippinger at www.lakesidelittletheatre.com/
Lakeside music and the “Red Button”
Dharma’s on the Ajijic Malecon will have to discontinue its popular Sunday afternoon concerts, like this one last week with Lete Gibney.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. Governor Alfaro of Jalisco pushed the red button Wednesday with an announcement on the state’s website https://botondeemergencia.jalisco.gob.mx/. The restrictions will last for 14 days but may be extended if Covid cases don’t level off. Practically this means his measure will take effect throughout the state of Jalisco as of Friday, October 30 and last until Friday, November 13. During two included weekends there will be a stoppage of activities from 6:00 in the morning on Saturday and until 5:59 in the morning the following Monday.
The website lists events that can and can’t be held, times that events and restaurants and other establishments can be open, and protocols required. The restrictions vary somewhat with the location – different rules apply in Chapala and Puerto Vallarta– but in general, commercial activities must close by 7 on weekdays and cannot continue on weekends. This includes restaurants bars, buses, and private social events. (our thanks to Kerry Watson of Chapala Health Talk Facebook group for her excellent reporting on the announcement)
In Chapala (including Riberas, San Antonio, Ajijic, etc), the main areas and activities that will be shut down during restricted hours include plazas, the Lakeside malecons, public markets and tianguis ,flea markets and organic markets, sports areas/teams and urban forests, religious ceremonies and meetings of more than 10 people, and open or closed event centers.
This will be a blow to the restaurant and entertainment sector in Lakeside, but the impact will vary. Laguna conducted a nonscientific telephone survey of music venues to get an idea of how they plan to respond to the two week-long – and possibly longer – red button restrictions. In general, many venue owners looked for ways to continue providing live music. These efforts ranged from concerts at Casa Domenech from 5 -7 on the nights its is open – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fri, to Adelita’s in San Antonio Tlaycapan which will offer music only one night a week, on Thursdays.
Venues like Gossips that only had music on weekends, will eliminate music for the red button period. Others like Meraki’s will continue their weekday music schedule, but just move it earlier, to 4 pm to 5 or so. Meraki’s has the flexibility to move its music completely outside, which it will do, to insure social distancing, an option not available to all venues.
Some venues will have to postpone live music, but will draw business with open mic nights, like La Bodega . The venue hopes a 25% discount on drinks will make up for business lost because of the lack of live music.
Dharma’s may be the local venue most impacted because it is the only music and food venue on the Ajijic Malecon and will lose its popular Sunday afternoon concerts, although it will offer music on Wednesday nights.
Owner, Ayrton Adrian lamented the impact of the closure of the Malecon, saying. “yes, this will totally hurt business. We are the only place on the Malecon with music. Shutting down from the Malecon will hurt us, especially because we will lose our weekend business. We will alert your customers that we are open and that take out is available on weekend, but no music.”
The general consensus of the venue operators Laguna talked with is that they hope it is only two weeks; they will lose business without the music and weekend business, and will try to make it up with take-out and deliveries, but for two weeks it won’t be fatal. Ray Domenech of Casa Domenech pointed out the impact on the music community and mentioned that one reason he was determined to offer music on the nights he was opened was to keep supporting the artists that support him.
Music Sin Fronteras radio is coming to Semanario Laguna.
Foto: Patrick O’Heffernan.
Ajijic’s own global music radio program, Music Sin Fronteras, hosted by music critic and writer for the English page on Semanario Laguna , Patrick O’Heffernan, will now be available at semanariolaguna.com/. Each week, Laguna readers will get an advance peek at the upcoming guest and a phone number they can use to call in live on the show.
Covering every facet of popular music, Program Host Patrick interviews artists and plays cuts from their albums, EP’s and singles. He talks with artists from the US, Latin America and sometimes even Europe. All interviews are in English, although the song lyrics are often Spanish or Spanglish.
Host Patrick focuses on rising singers and bands, local talent in Lakeside, and artists who are at the cusp of going big time, with the occasional famous guest. While his specialty is fusion music –Latino/gringo– he plays virtually anything you can dance to from cumbia to hip hop to blues and jazz and rock and even folk and electronica. He also covers local live music – it’s coming back!– and the FIMPRO Latin Music Convention in Guadalajara, the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York, and the Latin Grammys.
On the air for seven years in Los Angeles as Music Friday Live radio, Host Patrick changed the name to Music Sin Fronteras when he moved to Mexico last year and set up a broadcast studio in downtown Ajijic. He broadcasts every Friday at 1 pm CT on stations in the US and the UK. Semanario Laguna readers will get the broadcast link, the weekly lineup, and the talk line to call in and talk with the artists.
Nancy Robins talks about her late husband, the beloved Michel Robbins of Ajijic
Photo: Nancy Robbins with hers and Michaels instruments.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- Nancy Robbins settled back into a leather couch in her apartment cluttered with vinyl albums, music awards, a big screen computer and indigenous art to talk about her late husband, the American-born, Northern Indian musician beloved in Lakeside, Michael Robbins. The conversation was ebullient, like Nancy, full of smiles, laughter, and funny stories.
“He led such a fascinating, dynamic life and taught and helped so many people ‘I have to celebrate him’”, Nancy said, “he always lived the highest values in morals, in art, in intellect, and in athletics, so of course I celebrate him”.
Michael and Nancy Robbins have been fixtures in Ajijic and the Lakeside music scene for decades, training other musicians, running a popular Indian restaurant on the Ajijic Plaza, organizing performances and just plain helping people. They started coming to lakeside in 1992, and were married in Chapala. But Michael’s story starts 60 years earlier in Los Angeles where he was born in LA, the son of a movie theater manager. “Of course Michael went to the moves for free, but it was gymnastics that captured his heart”, Nancy explains. His father, who was his inspiration, died when he was thirteen and he felt he had to do something to live up to his father’s expectations. That something was gymnastics.
“Michael had a decision to make: he would come from the Boy Scouts, put on his band uniform and play, and then change into spots clothes for gymnastics – he had to choose one so he chose gymnastics”, Nancy said, almost as if she was there. It was a good choice; he was All City Champion and then went on to win a national championship and a full scholarship to UC Berkeley, where he met his first wife, Mary Lawrence, who left him after a year of marriage.
“They parted ways because they were quite different. He was an athlete; he didn’t drank or smoke or hang out and party. So after they parted he came down to Mexico in 1961,” Nancy said, describing the beginning of his love affair with Mexico. “He became a painter and a professor at Lake College in Mexico City. I met him 13 years later when I was babysitting for his ex-wife in San Francisco”.
While she was babysitting, a friend of Michael’s brought some tapes of his music back from India and Nancy listened to them over and over. When Michael returned, she peppered him with questions about the music. “I had all kinds of questions and what is more attractive to a man than a women interested in his subject, whether it is cars, football or Indian music? And I can cook,” she said with a laugh, “I was 24 and he was 37, but how many times in a lifetime do you get a chance to be with someone of that caliber, so I grabbed hold of the guy and would not let go!.” They were together for 45 years.
Michael Robbins went to India to study classical Northern Indian music, an artistic tradition that goes back over 2500 years. Originally music of the royal courts, instruction in tablas, sarod, harmonium, sitar and the music they played was passed down from father to son or nephew by a few elite teachers who allowed no deviation from tradition. (women now play the sarod and the tablas). Michael learned from some of the most famous, and most strict of the teachers, becoming a disciple of Pandit Radhika Mohan Moitra in the Sarod, and Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh in Tabla. Nancy explained he started in Calcutta with a teacher who was too busy for him, but noticed he could play real music and gave him a break.
Michael would play the classical recorder while others played the tabla or sitar and his teacher said “You can actually play something – these other guys are just playing scales – come on, I will take you to a teacher”, and took him to Radhika Mohan Moitra, who took him. He went on to become not only a student, but a force that help reinvigorate the music.
After returning from India, Michael founded the Sarodya Society in the 90’s to promote the awareness of sarod and tabla and train other musicians. He continued that tradition in Lakeside training many Mexican and gringo musicians in Hindustani classical music. His students include some of Lakeside’s most popular and talented musicians like Juan Castañón Acasia, Angel Madrigal, Alvaro Rubio, Alvaro Rubio and others.
But the move to Lakeside was slow and careful –process that began in 1992 and ended in 2000 when they finally moved everything to lakeside and became residents. Once in Lakeside, the quickly developed a strong music community, not only through teaching but through the Indian restaurant they opened on the Ajijic Plaza, that served as a venue and gathering place.
“I had learned Indian cooking we wanted a venue here, so when I saw the For Rent sign on the Plaza and said to Michael I wonder how much they want for that, he said go for it,” and I did. They ran the restaurant for almost seven years. “It was fun and I met so many nice people. The restaurant was a way for people to come to use, instead of us going to them. I thoroughly enjoyed it,” she says.
During their time in lakeside, Nancy cooked and played music, ran the restaurant and “all the other things wives do”, while Michael played and taught, creating a community and training so many of the musicians that entertain Lakeside residents today.
Michael died last week of congestive heart failure brought on by a 50-year old liver problem. But even in talking about his death, Nancy was upbeat. “We didn’t go to the Plaza for about 4 months and then eventually he was in bed for the last two days. I held his hand and he asked me to roll him over and I did and propped him up and that was the way I found him. I thought he was sleeping until the dog jumped on the bed and licked his foot and he didn’t complain, so I knew he was dead.”
My Fair Lady opens this Friday at Lakeside Little Theater
Eliza Doolittle and the ensemble in My Fair Lady at the LLT.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- Lerner and Lowe’s famed musical My Fair Lady opens Friday night, Feb. 21, 2020, at the Lakeside Little Theater and is already sold out. The run has been extended to March 4 to accommodate the demand for tickets.
Winner of Best Musical Award in 1957, it is a comedic romantic tale that illuminates class divisions in turn of the last century London and the cluelessness of the male ego. Directed by Dave McIntosh with music direction by Ann Swenson and choreography by Alexis Hoff and Mary Neill, it features a cast of three dozen dancers, singers and actors.
With sumptuous costumes and a set evocative of London in 1917, the LLT production stars Michala Swanson as Eliza Doolittle, Brian Fuqua as Henry Higgins, Rob Stupple as Alfred Doolittle, and Mark Heaton as Colonel Pickering. Presented with permission of Tams-Widmark, the production was generously underwritten by Jeff & Connie Pecsar. The Lakeside Little Theater is Mexico’s oldest English-language theater and has been in operation since 1965.
A self-sustaining, all-volunteer not-for-profit organization, it offers theatre arts to Lakeside residents at its recently renovated 122-seat facility in San Antonio Tlayacapan. Tickets available at the box office for the extended run as long as they last.
Renowned Mexican singer Jaramar in intimate house concert in Ajijic
Jaramar Soto created a magical night of 15 songs in a unique, intimate concert
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- The renowned Mexican singer Jaramar Soto made a surprise appearance in Ajijic Friday night, at an intimate concert organized by singer-songwriter Yanin Saavedra at her home. Supported by her long-time accompanists Luis Javier Ochoa on guitar and Alejandro Fernández Figueroa on violin, the Latin Grammy-winning Jaramar treated the audience in Saavedra’s living room to 15 stunning songs, mostly composed by her.
Clad in a simple black lace dress, she swayed, sang, smiled and mesmerized the people on folding chairs only feet away from her with a voice that everyone in Jalisco knows and loves. From the mischievous “Máquina” to the soulful “Echar el Ancla”, she filled the house with music usually heard in grand theaters in Guadalajara, Mexico City or Los Angeles. In between songs, she told stories of the songs, her life, art and her dreams.
Jaramar, born in Mexico City but now based in Guadalajara. Is a singer, dancer, composer and visual artist who has recorded 15 solo albums, among them El hilo invisible (with el Cuarteto Latinoamericano, for which she won the 2016 Latin Grammy for Best Classical Music Album.
Her visit to Ajijic is the result of her friendship with Saavedra and her continuing desire to develop new projects and touch new audiences. Yanin Saavedra and her partner, bassist Gilberto Rios, produces a continuing series of intimate concerts bringing artists from around Mexico in genres, ranging from electric dream pop to folk to classical. Jaramar earlier appeared on the Ajijic-based radio program Music Sin Fronteras.