By Chloe Johnson
Excitement, exhilaration, exhaustion, these three words pretty much some up how we all feel following 3 weeks of the first ever Todos Santos Music Festival. The festival was the brainchild of Peter Buck of the band REM. What started out as a small idea quickly sprouted into something that was so special we filled the entire town plaza of Todos Santos. With less than 90 days of planning we actually managed to make this happen. The final night started with an appearance by Todos Santos’ own Guaycura Band out in the audience. The amazing audience was treated to a set by local favorites, Flashback. That set was followed up by Chuck Prophet who started solo acoustic and finished his songs with the backing of Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Bill Rieflin. We were then mesmerized by The Elected, a project of Blake Sennett from Rilo Kiley. Their lush pop tunes very quickly won over the audience. Of course Peter again stepped in to add some extra flair to the band. Kev’n Kinney really got the crowd going with his electric brand of Southern Rock. His set definitely had the audience dancing and singing.
Then before headliners, The Minus 5, we stopped for a few moments to recognize what this evening was all about, The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, A.C. Palapa Society President, Erick Ochoa gave a speech thanking everyone for their support and Peter Buck followed that with a speech he gave entirely in Spanish. Peter explained that the city of Todos Santos was part of his heart and that we were all here so that the children of Todos Santos would be exposed to the same opportunities as Peter’s children.
He then signed a ceremonial check representing his contribution to the event. The local Delgado, Arturo Martínez Villalobos, (mayor) of Todos Santos was on hand as was the minister of tourism for Baja California Sur. It was an incredible moment for all of us who worked so hard to make this event come together. Following the pomp and circumstance The Minus 5 put on a blistering set that included an interlude of music by Argentinian rocker Fernando Viciconte. It is easy to believe
that Fernando Viciconte will be remembered here long after this event. Another highlight of the Minus 5 set was the appearance of local music teacher Tofito and his young band of horn students joining all the musicians on stage for an amazing rendition of Alone Again Tonight by Love. The local people were all quick to recognize and respond to their beloved “professor” and his students on stage. The night finally ended with a foot stomping, crowd pleasing sing a long of Kev’n Kinney’s Straight to Hell. What a way to end the night! Except, much to our surprise, a local patron offered to make a $10,000 USD donation to the Palapa Society if The Minus 5 would play just one more song. They were, of course, happy to oblige by breaking out a few more tunes. It was the perfect end to a beautiful night.
The first ever Todos Santos Music Festival was a HUGE success. For three weekends in a row we packed the Hotel California and treated both the locals and many friends and tourists who came to join us from all over the world to a rocking good time. Peter Buck played all three weeks starting with the The Baseball Project (Peter Buck, Steve Wynn, Scott McCaughey and Linda Pitmon), Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 (Robyn Hitchcock, Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Bill Rieflin) and The Minus 5 (Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, John Ramberg and Bill Rieflin). They were joined throughout the three weeks by many of Peter’s musician friends including Mike Mills, Kraig Johnson, Chuck Prophet, Blake Sennett and The Elected, Kev’n Kinney, Fernando Viciconte and Dave Depper. Two of the more memorable evenings for locals were a duet by La Paz teenager, Cosima Rose and Scott McCaughey sing the Decemberists’ Shankill Butchers and the night Profe. Tofito and son joined The Minus 5 for a number.
We will be forever grateful for the generosity shown and are pleased to share with you that over $47,000 USD was raised in just 3 weeks, and the donations are still arriving. This never would have happened without the hard work of many people and the generous sponsorship of The Hotel California, Pacifico beer, The Journal del Pacifico and all of the Palapa Society volunteers who volunteered so much of their time to make this event happen. And of course, we must thank YOU, the audience, who came out night after night to support the musicians as well as an important cause. The incredible energy and joy experienced by both the musicians and everyone attending came directly from the excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd. We cannot thank you all enough for being a part of this. We are looking forward to and are beginning to plan the Todos Santos Music Festival 2013 for next January. If we pulled off this event in less than 90 days, just imagine what we can plan with one whole year. We sure hope to see all of you here again next year!
To view more of Claude Vogel’s photos of the entire event, visit MexSense.zenfolio.com
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