Blue Jay Slim sings a loving duet with his wife at El Barco.
Blue Jay – or just “Jay” as he is known in the music community, played a final concert with his all-star blue Machine Band of Javier Villaseñor on guitar, Chelo Gonzales on drums, Sergio Casas on bass, Christian Jimenez on piano plus guest horn players coaxed out of the audience.
Blue Jay announced at the opening of his first set that this would be his last concert because he was headed back NOB, but he told Laguna the move was not permanent and that he and wife will return, maybe after the end of the year – no date specified. But since many people who know him remember that he went back to the states in 2013 only to return to Ajijic , bigger and better, there was no doubt they would see him again.
Blue Jay has played for years in Lakeside with the Blues Machine and an earlier band, The Tone Blasters, after an illustrious (and still going) career of recording and live performing in the US. He has opened for major bands like Shemkia Copeland, Marcia Ball, The Nighthawkes and many others. He has played major venues and festivals in the US, and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame from Deleware in November 2013. His Ajijic band was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame last year.
The goodbye concert featured 2 sets with originals like “Don’t Look Up’, and “The Call Me the Boogie Man” and “Seven Woman Man” plus classic blues favorites like “Back Magic Woman” and “Hoochie Coochie Man”.
El Barco’s upstairs outdoor venue began filling up an hour before showtime and it was standing room by the time the band got on stage. But their fans made room for dancing, especially during the loving duet “Some Kind of Wonderful” with his wife.
Fans told Laguna they can’t wait until he returns, but in the meantime they will be enjoying The Blues Machine and Javier Villaseñor flaming guitar licks. Fans who need their Blue Jay fix can sgream his albums Call Me the Boogie Man and Blue Slim and the ToneBlasters on Spotify
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.
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.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. Lakeside’s music season is off to a great start with the International Music Festival this weekend, produced by the Ajijic-based music organization Ray Velvet Productions, directed by Ray Domenech of Casa Domenech. The festival launches Friday evening with R&B and funk, moves onto Saturday with soft rock by Ajijic’s own SAGREY, and wraps up Sunday with hot Latin music from Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela.
The festival will be held at Number 9, a large outdoor venue owned by a local musician, located at Aquiles Serdan #9, 20 steps down from Vinos America on the Carretera. Festival goers will enjoy a Mexican all-you-can-eat buffet dinner with fresh handmade tortillas, a cash bar, and socially-distanced tables.
Friday’s lineup is ON FIRE , a R&B and jazz funk band with Willy Zavala on keys, Armando Curiel on drums and “Malabres” on bass and featuring Ajijic’s star saxman, Chuco Soto. Saturday evening will bring the vocals of Barbara Sagrey, fronting the SAGREY ban , with Diego Casas on drums, Kevin Real on bass, Azael Medeles on Keyboard, Ray Domenech on guitar and Kenji Matsui from Japan on lead guitar.
The Festival wraps up Sunday, April 25, with MANO PA’RRIBA, playing red hot Latin Music with the beloved Freddy Adrian from Venezuela on standup bass, Mexico’s Giovanni Figueroa on drums and Ronald Rivero from CUBA on the keyboard and fronted by Jackie Jacks with her beautiful vocals.
Tickets are $700 for VIP and $580 for general admission for each day (discount for multiple days). You can buy your tickets online at: Paypal.me/rayvelvetpro or in Casa Domenech, Zaragoza 109 Ajijic ,or At Angelina’s inside the Lake Chapala Society. Doors open at 6:30pm each day.
From left to right: Emmanuel Medeles, Artistic Director, Michael Reason, Conductor, Lake Chapala Community Orchestra, Fabiola Ramos, Administrador Areli Medeles, Tutor.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. The legacy music school founded over 20 years was on the brink of closing until its fans and supporters stepped up with enthusiastic support of an online fundraising campaign based in Canada.
“We had fallen from 55 students to 25, a major loss of tuition revenue, and we were not able to produce on any concerts, a major source of revenue”, Michael Reason , Founder and Conductor of the Lake Chapala Community Orchestra and a supporter of CREM told Laguna. He explained GoFundMe is not supported in Mexico so he set up a Canadian campaign that allowed people to easily donate on line from Mexico.
“As a musician and the founder of the Lake Chapala Community Orchestra it was obvious to me that if the pandemic was to go on a long time a lot of educational institutions – especially in music – would suffer because of the economic conditions and the public health situation, “ he said, adding that “CREAM relies on tuition fees but its philosophy is that it doesn’t not matter what your economic situation is they will offer scholarships.”
Reason got involved when a member of his orchestra told him about CREM’s financial problem and since, he has “ always been committed to music education – its important to a person’s character as well as music knowledge,” he stepped in to help out the beloved institution.
CEM was founded 1n 1990 by the late beloved Ajijic singer and music composer Victor Manuel Medeles, beginning with a children’s choir and then introduced instrumental training over time until its present curriculum. It became a registered non-profit under the name CREMusica A.C. in 2013.
Most students – all Mexicans – are children or teens, but there is no age limit. Until the pandemic, CREM had 55 students and several instructors and tutors who taught music theory, trained students on various instruments and operated an orchestra and choir, chamber music groups, and various ensembles. Once a year there is a public exam where students play pieces they have prepared over the year. Many of the first generation of its graduates are part of the Jalisco Philharmonic or are professional musicians.
Reason and the staff and students and families of CREAM are excited at the success to date of the GoFundMe campaign and hope it reaches its goal in a few weeks. The school has limped along with a few online classes and some backyard or home practice sessions but neither of these provide the funds or the education CREM and its students need.
Ramos feels that meeting their GofundMe goal will tied them over but Ramos and Reason are realistic about the mid- and long term success of the school and its funding.
“We will need to continue to raise funds, perhaps with small house concerts this summer for scholarships to bring our students back,” CREM Administrator Fabiola Ramos told Laguna, adding that ;they may try to produce some all school concerts this summer.
Monthly tuition is $535 pesos – very low for most schools, but still a significant amount for the average Mexican family in Lakeside, so scholarships are important to guarantee that that school is open to everyone regardless of financial situation, one of the school’s goals.
People who want to donate or volunteer should go to the school’s Facebook page at facebook.com/CentroRegionalDeEstudiosMusicales or directly to the GoFundMe campaign at https://bit.ly/2PF8z7v
The Los Amigos Big Band entertains a a sold out crowd at Quatro Sentido.
Patrick O’Heffernan, Ajijic. The 20-piece Los Amigos Big Band entertained an oversold afternoon crowd in Quatro Sentitido’s vast rooftop space in its debut as a big music venue without a hitch. The band, led by Paul Silverman, set up for the Christy Philipson-produced concert with the lake and mountains in a stunning backdrop.
The restaurant staffed up for the 100+ Covid-spaced crowd and got people checked in and guided to their reserved tables and served drinks with smooth efficiency. Snacks and dinners were available from the menu and rolled out of the kitchen as if an overflow crowd was an everyday routine. Quatro Sentido has been hosting a smaller version of the band on Thursdays for some time, so this was not a completely new experience, although the audience size was much larger than the Thursday crowds.
The band, comprised of 20 Mexican and Expat artists, plus 4 outstanding vocalists–Christy Carter Caldwell, Andrea Pérez Romero, Wanda White, and Lorenzo Elmo Adam, was founded by local musician and entrepreneur Christine Philipson. She brought in a professional sound setup with a full control board, microphones for each of the 20 musician and for the vocalists, all tuned and monitored by a skilled sound engineer who delivered clear, high quality sound at precisely the right level.
Quatro Sentido added extra sunroofs to keep the band and the audience cool while leaving the airiness and sunny feeling of their rooftop location. Because of the spaciousness of the venue couples could dance without coming within the Covid distance of the tables.
Los Amigos delivered 2 sets with a 25-minute break. The highly polished music was mostly jazz standards with a little swing and Mexican classics. The band delivered instrumentals as well as music for the 4 vocalists, with hot guitar, drum and trumpet solos and section breakdowns that demonstrated the high level of skill of every member of the band. A mobile radio microphone enabled the vocalists to move freely around the stage.
Given the success of the first concert, Philipson is envisioning more concerts or even musical reviews at Quatro Sentido or even visiting talent. Her idea may strike a spark with local audiences; as one person said, at the concert what a great way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
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