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John Paul Jones at the Todos Santos Music Festival in Mexico


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In between composition spells what with an opera and yet-to-surface projects such as the one with Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen (among others, I'd bet), John Paul Jones took part in the Todos Santos Music Festival in Mexico on January 16, 2016. When the winter winds blow, rock gods head for the sun.



The Todos Santos Music Festival was created by Peter Buck of REM and brought to life by The Hotel California to add music to the long list of artistic endeavors hosted in this Pueblo Magico in Baja Sur, Mexico.



This is a benefit concert for the Palapa Society of Todos Santos, A.C. 


The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, A.C. is a nonprofit with a mission to provide scholarship, educational, medical and environmental programs for the benefit of local children and their families. To learn more about The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, A.C., and the community work they do visit their website atwww.palapasociety.org. 


Palapa Society's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/palapasociety.org/


Here's some footage courtesy of @ledzepnews: 


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(Instagram/lennonalex)                                                                                                                                                (Instagram/veronikayulka)

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Jonesy with Jeff Tweedy                                                                                                                                                  Jonesy with Jeff Tweedy

(Instagram/lancebangs)                                                                                                                                                 (Instagram/sandym415)

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Jonesy with Pat Samson


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Here's Jeff Tweedy's set list:



Check out more footage and photos at the Festival's Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/todossantosmusicfestival/

and Facebok: https://www.facebook.com/TodosSantosMusicFestival/?fref=ts




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^ Thanks!

Here's another one of Jonesy rocking it out on the mandolin :thumbsup:


(Via Jonesy's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JohnPaulJonesOfficial/?fref=ts )

Here are some more photos of Jonesy with Jeff Tweedy and the band on the third night of the festival:


12507245_1050444454977045_21522343515884   12552659_1050444178310406_83811852300472


(Photos: Vivian Johnson)

These are from the Todos Santos Facebook. Check out the photos and videos from the other performances here: https://www.facebook.com/TodosSantosMusicFestival/?fref=ts 



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Absolutely, luvlz2! Great chops, timing and melody, be it on mandolin, piano, bass...

Here are a few more photos from the festival:


"World Away" 


"The Losing End (When You're On)" by Neil Young




"Airline To Heaven"






You can read more info about the other musicians as well as a write-up about the night  at The R.E.M. Timeline Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1015065598558302.1073741992.180210328710504&type=3


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Another performance with Jonesy (this one on January 19, 2016) was "... dinner & music in aid of Todos Santos' Recycling Center, which was staged in the Garden Restaurant at Rancho Pescadero in Pescadero, a small town 15 minutes drive south of Todos Santos - one of the many smaller shows going on during the Todos Santos Music Festival."


 "That's Why I Wear Black"





"If It Was Easy Everybody Would Do It"


"Ford Econoline"


"Iron Mountain"



From The R.E.M. Timeline Facebook which also has more info about other songs and performers with Jonesy and without: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1015670265164502.1073741993.180210328710504&type=3


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^Cool video, thanks for posting, Janvier. 

Some photos have surfaced from the second week of the festival. On January 20, Jonesy took to the stage at La Morena Restaurant & Bar for the 1st Annual Beca Angel Event, fundraising for The Palapa Society's Beca Angel sponsorship programme (part of The Palapa Society Of Todos Santos, A.C.):


"The Medicine Show"



Check out the link for more photos and info: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1015876201810575.1073741994.180210328710504&type=3

Also, you can find more info about and photos from the First Annual Beca Angel event here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.539168529584362.1073741837.251814468319771&type=3

and here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.467278743440008.1073741831.251814468319771&type=3

About BECA:


The BECA Program, led by Palapa President Erick Ochoa, supports 60 high school and 19 university students. We are proud of the accomplishments of these students who bring so much back to our community as graduates in fields such as education and architecture. To support this program you can become a BECA Angel by contacting Info@PalapaSociety.org






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This article was posted on Jan. 21st on the Palapa Society Facebook page. It's originally in Spanish. Not too bad a translation by Google :D

Formerly of Led Zeppelin perform at Music Festival Todos Santos

January 15, 2016


john paul jones all saints led zeppelin

It is not yet known whether John Paul Jones takes the stage tonight or in the coming days of the festival

La Paz, Baja California Sur (BCS). John Paul Jones , formerly of the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin , has been seen in  Todos Santos, municipality of La Paz, prior to its presentation at the 5th Music Festival organized by the guitarist for the defunct band REM, Peter  Buck, -Organizer the event-; however, it is unknown whether either tonight or tomorrow that the former takes the stage.

Collective Pericú published is not the first time that John Paul Jones visit Todos Santos, as pictured in the same festival in past emissions, however, has never been publicly announced it, the report said. Tightbutloose reported that the musician It was in 2014 at the same venue, south of the city of La Paz.

Through a statement, the creator and organizer of the Festival of Music confirmed that attendees can enjoy a billboard with artists spanning rock, alternative country and Latin genres, among them  Death Cab for Cutie, Jeff Tweedy, 97 Old , Drive-By Truckers, The Jayhawks, The Autumn Defense, La Santa Cecilia, Filthy Friends, Torreblanca, Tigria and others.

The musical performances will be taking place from 14 to 16 January and from 20 to 23 of the same month in the famous  Hotel California and square Magic Town ; the resulting economic proceeds will benefit the Palapa Society of Todos Santos and other local charities.

John Paul Jones is a British multi-instrumentalist musician, known primarily for being bassist of Led Zeppelin British rock group considered one of the most influential in the history of music; according to Wikipedia , Paul Jones plays guitar, bass, mandolin, keyboard, piano, flute and other instruments, and their input was instrumental in some of the classic songs of the band like Black Dog or Going to California, among others.

john paul jones led zeppelin

Collective information Pericú / Main picture: Tightbutloose / Photo 2: Jon Siever.





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That solo from "La Morena" was incredible! So fluid and sometimes syncopated and expressive yet all within the context of the song and the other musicians playing. Jonesy just seems comfortable in whatever musical setting he's in. "Have mandolin. Let's play!"

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  • 3 weeks later...

A final compilation of photos from various shows in which Jonesy took part throughout the festival along with a couple of great reviews.

January 16:


From Patterson Hood Facebook


JPJ & Jeff Tweedy

January 19:


Steve Wynn, JPJ & Linda Pitmon


Steve Wynn, Josh Kantor & JPJ


The one and only :) 


Josh Kantor, JPJ & Chuck Prophet


JPJ & Kevn Kinney


Josh Kantor & JPJ

January 23, Todos Santos Plaza:


The Baseball Project & JPJ


The Baseball Project & JPJ


Mike Mills & JPJ


Death Cab for Cutie & JPJ


Death Cab for Cutie & JPJ


La Santa Cecilia & JPJ

^ From Todos Santos Music Festival Facebook courtesy of R.E.M. Costa Rica Fans and Jason Munoz

Instagram media humberto_howard - Magical weekend in Todos Santos con La Santa Cecilia #pueblomagico#todossantos#todosantosmusicfestival#lasantacecilia#mexico#mezcal#canon#slr#rocknroll#ledzeppelin#johnpauljones#lamarisoul   Instagram media humberto_howard - Magical weekend in Todos Santos con La Santa Cecilia #pueblomagico#todossantos#todossantosmusicfestival#lasantacecilia#mexico#mezca#canon#slrl#rocknroll#ledzeppelin#johnpauljones#lamarisoul

pikore.com/humberto_howard http://www.pikore.com/m/1170608318169601248_46981908                            pikore.com/humberto_howard http://www.pikore.com/m/1170607928350987474_46981908



Photo: Kelly DeFilippis 

From Drive-By Truckers Facebook  

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Peter Buck's Paradise: Inside R.E.M. Guitarist's Cozy Mexican Fest

John Paul Jones, Corin Tucker, Jeff Tweedy and more join Buck at latest Todos Santos Music Festival

BY DAVID FRICKE January 29, 2016

Peter Buck Paradise

"I've played a million festivals," says R.E.M.'s Peter Buck. "I want this to represent more of who I am."Vivian Johnson

"That PA was in my closet at 3:30," Peter Buck says, pointing at a pair of speakers in the open-air courtyard at La Morena, a bar on the main street of Todos Santos, a small town at the southern tip of Baja California, Mexico. "The one they brought in had cobwebs," the former R.E.M. guitarist goes on, swirling a glass of wine in one hand as dusk falls overhead. "I don't think it had been used in 20 years."

It is 5 p.m. on January 20th, the kickoff hour for the second weekend of the best little rock festival in the world: Todos Santos Music Festival, now in its fifth year in this sun-kissed Pacific Coast cluster of small hotels, restaurants and craft shops. Buck, 59, staged the first edition in January 2012, only a few months after he and his sidekicks in R.E.M., bassist Mike Mills and singer Michael Stipe, announced their retirement as a band in 2011. Buck and his wife, Chloe Johnson, are the chief organizers. The guitarist didn't go far to retrieve that PA; he and Johnson have a house a block's walk from La Morena.

As for the music at this happy-hour acoustic session: "It's gonna be whoever wants to get up and do whatever," Buck says casually, brushing back the long, silver hair that keeps falling over his mirrored sunglasses. That is exactly what happens for the next two hours as musicians who will play across the weekend — including Mills, guitarist Scott McCaughey, singer-songwriters Steve Wynn and Chuck Prophet, members of the Jayhawks and, in an unexpected appearance, Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones — step up to the small forest of mics to swap songs and instruments, in shifting, improvised combinations.

The Todos Santos Music Festival is basically a feast of friends, drawn from Buck's deep pool of close pals, studio collaborators and touring buddies, some going back to R.E.M.'s early-Eighties birth in Athens, Georgia. This year, the January 14th–16th weekend featured Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy — Buck produced an album for Tweedy's old band, Uncle Tupelo — and Filthy Friends, Buck's new band with Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney. The January 20th–23rd run is also packed with associations. Drive-By Truckers were founded in Athens; the Jayhawks are about to release a new album, co-produced by Buck; and Jones arranged the strings on R.E.M.'s 1992 album, Automatic for the People. Death Cab for Cutie, playing their first concerts in Mexico, stage a mini-R.E.M. reunion one night, performing that band's "Fall on Me" with Buck on ravishing 12-string jangle and Mills singing at his side.

The musicians play three main shows across both weekend — for free, with all proceeds going to the Palapa Society of Todos Santos, a charity specializing in education initiatives for the community. There are two marathon evenings under the stars at the Hotel California, also on the main drag, then a big, free concert in the town plaza. Jones, in particular, is a genial and generous wingman, playing mandolin and lap steel with virtually the entire cast each night; they, in turn, are thrilled to have their songs graced by a Zeppelin legend. The crowds are practically family as well: 700 people each night at Hotel California, where there are reserved tables and nominal general admission; and about 4,000 people in the finale at the plaza, most of them Mexicans from the town and surrounding area.

Festival Mexico

Jeff Tweedy at opening night of the 2016 Todos Santos Music Festival Vivian Johnson

"I've played a million festivals — all super uptight, guys with clipboards going, 'Do you have the right pass?'" Buck notes. "I want this to represent more of who I am. These are my friends. I like the fact that the bands sit in with each other. We'll go long some nights. Big deal — you pay the help more."

At La Morena, Buck's desired vibe is in full effect: Gary Louris of the Jayhawks performs the first of the weekend's many David Bowie covers, "Starman"; McCaughey honors the late Mott the Hoople drummer Dale Griffin with that band's "I Wish I Was Your Mother"; and Wynn turns the stomping menace of "Medicine Show, which he originally recorded in 1984 with his band the Dream Syndicate, into bluegrass noir with Jones on mandolin. A long dinner break is followed by another acoustic hootenanny in the bar at the Todos Santos Inn, loosely led by Buck's longtime friend Kev'n Kinney of the Georgia band Drivin N Cryin.

"Tell me, is there a better festival you've ever been to?" Buck asks me, blunt and proud, at several points: at soundchecks, between his guest spots on guitar at Hotel California; backstage at the plaza show. Kinney puts it another way, on the 20th, as he wraps up the night at the Todos Santos Inn, conducting the whole room in the final chorus of the Replacements' "Here Comes a Regular."

"We're all regulars in Todos Santos!" Kinney shouts at the end, to affirming applause. The second weekend of the best little rock festival in the world is underway.

From Rock Star to Stage Hand

"The first festival was three weekends, and each weekend was a band I played in — the Minus 5, the Baseball Project and Robyn Hitchcock," Buck says one afternoon at La Morena, recalling the 2012 birth of his Todos Santos festival over a tall glass of orange juice and the clamor of soundchecks across the street at Hotel California. "The idea was no one likes to tour in January. So I sold it to everybody with 'Come down, let's hang out, eat tacos, get drunk and play.'"

"It was really informal," confirms Wynn, who is in the Baseball Project, a group that plays original songs about America's national pasttime. "We each had our weekend, three nights, four hours a night. We filled the sets up with whatever we could do. We were a tequila bar band."

Buck wasn't planning to sell tickets, but "a simple announcement," as he puts it, on R.E.M.'s website drew a flood of requests. To avoid the snarl of work permits, Buck arranged to donate any money to charity. "We ended up bringing in $40,000," which went to the Palapa Society, Buck says. "I also spent $40,000. But the whole point was to do it."

Buck, who is based in Portland, Oregon, vacationed in Todos Santos for several years before buying a house in 2008. "I'm not living some exotic life here," he contends. "I drive a nine-year-old car. I bought a nice three-bedroom house at the bottom of the market." The guitarist has other roots in the town. His wife's grandparents spent holidays here in the Eighties, staying in a trailer. When R.E.M. announced their dissolution in September 2011, Mills and Stipe gave a handful of interviews. Buck did none, retreating to Todos Santos. 

"He wanted to be away from everything," says McCaughey, Buck's cohort in several bands, including the Minus 5, and an R.E.M. sideman on tours and records from the mid-Nineties until the band's end. McCaughey was with Buck in Todos Santos when R.E.M issued their breakup statement. One day, the two were "sitting in the Hotel California, having margaritas," McCaughey recalls, "and Peter said, 'I bet they'd give us free drinks if we just played covers.' That is literally how this whole thing started."

Festival; Mexico; 2016

Filthy Friends, featuring Corin Tucker and Peter Buck, at the 2016 Todos Santos Music FestivalVivian Johnson

Erick Ochoa, the 37-year-old president of the Palapa Society, says the inaugural Todos Santos festival "changed everything for us." Started in 2003 to help children in the region seeking higher education, the charity was able to "double the amount of students we were sending to school" just with the $40,000 Buck raised in 2012. Buck also got "really involved" with the Palapa Society, visiting the local school and meeting students.

Even a modest contribution pays big dividends for the organization; for only $250 (U.S.), Palapa can pay a year's tuition for a student at a Mexican public university. As Buck tells the R.E.M. fans at the Hotel California shows, during a charity auction of artwork created by the musicians, "A lot of you have had $250 dinners you don't even remember."

Buck nearly didn't make it past the second Todos Santos festival in 2013, which featured the Posies, Alejandro Escovedo and most of the first year's alumni. "Peter has an overall concept of how the money works," McCaughey says, "but Chloe was doing a lot of the nuts and bolts, wrangling musicians. The second year, she didn't have any fun. It was too draining."

For the 2014 edition, which included reunions of Wynn's Dream Syndicate and Kinney's Drivin N Cryin and a new tradition, a local-band showcase, Buck found limited sponsorship and logistical assistance from the Cabo Agency, a tour and travel agency. "Now Chloe can have a good time," McCaughey says, while Buck runs the music with a casual flair. "Even last year, he was showing up an hour before the show, going, 'This is who will play tonight, in this order.' It's pure fun for him. And the musicians look at it like a paid vacation — with all their friends."

Buck estimates that it now costs $180,000 a year to mount his Todos Santos festival. To ensure that all proceeds go to the Palapa Society, "I write a check at the end of the year, around $100,000," he confesses. "It makes my accountant nervous." Buck is seeking additional sponsorship that allows the festival to break even each year without growing too far beyond its current intimacy and musical camraderie. "I would like to believe this could become self-sustaining. If I back out, it's over.

"I went from making millions of dollars playing rock music to losing thousands of dollars being a bad stage manager," Buck says with an edgy laugh before ambling over to the soundcheck at Hotel California. "But I would like to keep it like this. I want musicians to go, 'That was great.'" Then he cites an example from last year: founding guitarists Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley of Drive-By Truckers.

"Mike is not the most loquacious guy on earth," Buck notes. "But he was sitting on the plane with Patterson on the way home, going, 'Coolest gig I ever did.' Then in July, I emailed them: 'Do you guys have any interest in coming back?' One minute later, they wrote back: 'We were just waiting for you to ask.'"

Playing All Night Long

Mexico; Festival; 2016

La Santa Cecelia at Todos Santos 2016Vivian Johnson

There is a moment at Hotel California, early in the evening of January 21st, when a huge chunk of the second-weekend bill — including Wynn, McCaughey, Chuck Prophet, John Jackson of the Jayhawks and Mike Mills — is lined up on stage, helping Kev'n Kinney through his Drivin N Cryin anthem "Straight to Hell." Buck is up there too on bass, making one of his many sit-in appearances.

There are no degrees of separation in that spread. Everyone on either side of Buck has a direct, enduring connection to him through friendship, recording and gigging. "It's like his version of Branson, Missouri," Wynn cracks, referring to the American capital of country-star theme parks. "There is a sense of community but a nice sense of competition," Wynn adds. "Everybody comes down here wanting to show what they can do — show that you belong and what's unique about what you do. You're in close quarters. That strips away any veneer and mystique pretty fast."

The highlights come early on the 21st — Prophet's country-blues covers of Bowie's "Queen Bitch" and Chuck Berry's "Tulane" and the stark neo-hip-hop of "You Did," Prophet's cult hit from the HBO vampire series True Blood — then fly thick and fast. The Jayhawks debut the plaintive elegance of "Quiet Corners and Empty Spaces" from the new record they've made with Buck, while Drive-By Truckers play a Southern-gothic fireball from their next LP — "What It Means," Hood raging against the epidemic of police shootings through howling guitars and Dylan-'66 organ. "When you say it wasn't racial/When you shot him in the back," Hood sings, pressing his voice to the edge of sanity, "Well I guess that means you ain't black."

On the 22nd, McCaughey draws Mills, Hood and Dave Depper of Death Cab for Cutie to the mics for a tribute to the late Glenn Frey, the Eagles' "Take It Easy." Buck joins Wynn for a Dream Syndicate sequence, threading the spectral thump of "When You Smile" from that group's 1982 debut, The Days of Wine and Roses, with modal-Byrds soloing. And there is an R.E.M. reunion you never expected to see — with a weird touch of Zeppelin — after hours at the Todos Santos Inn: Kinney making a fan's case for the late John Denver as he sings "Leaving on a Jet Plane" with Mills on harmonies and Buck playing John Paul Jones' mandolin.

The free show in the town square starts early (5 p.m.), goes late (well after midnight) and runs the gamut from the gnarly — Joseph Arthur throttling the Velvet Underground's "Heroin" with looping-guitar effects and Buck on drums — to the sublime: another R.E.M. flashback as Mills takes his signature lead in "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville" with a Minus 5 that has Buck on 12-string guitar and Hood on extra vocals, deepening the Georgia connections. "If you know the song, please sing along," Mills tells the crowd. "Between the tequila and the desert air, my voice is shot." He gets plenty of help and no complaints.

Drive-By Truckers get two huge cheers, one of them after Hood suggests that if Donald Trump "ever becomes president of the United States, maybe Mexico should build a wall to keep that asshole out!" The other comes when the Truckers race through their cover of Jim Carroll's "People Who Died," with Jones bringing the Zeppelin on lap steel. To the locals, the Mexican-American band La Santa Cecilia may actually be the biggest draw of the night — Todos Santos festival veterans with a buoyant line in reggae-inflected rock en Español and a flirty vocal powerhouse in singer Marisol Hernandez. Jones, inevitably, joins them on mandolin. Death Cab for Cutie's "Fall on Me" with Buck and Mills has already gone viral by the time that band closes the show and the festival entourage has rolled to the Todos Santos Inn for another hootenanny.

In our conversation at La Morena, Buck is cautious about promising to mount a sixth Todos Santos Music Festival next year. "Part of the deal, I always felt, was that every penny from ticket sales, merchandise and donations goes to charity, with none taken off the top," he says. "We have to make up the costs with sponsorship, and as yet that hasn't happened." He admits that one reason for doing the interview is "to let people know how cool this is.

"I'm not trying to reach the kids in Cabo doing jello shots," Buck states firmly. "If it gets too big, it gets spoiled. I can keep doing it. But it depends on the day I discover I'm spending more time trouble-shooting than I am enjoying it."

Any doubts have evaporated, at least for this year, when Buck hits the Todos Santos Inn on the last night. He takes a turn at the mike, singing a new original song that goes with the clamor at the bar — "Let's Get Fucked Up." And Buck can't resist asking, once again, before closing time, "Isn't this the best festival you've ever been to? Seriously?"

The best answer: See it for yourself.


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The Todos Santos Music Festival–Peter Buck’s Philanthropic Rock-Fest

Jan 26th, 2016 in Music

photo 1 (2)

The fifth annual Todos Santos Music Festival culminated last weekend in southern Baja, and thankfully we were there to witness this feel-good rock-fest in all its glory.  TSMF is the post-REM philanthropic project of Peter Buck (and his wife, Chloe Johnson) that was begun by the couple to help support local charities/efforts in their new-home beach community of Todos Santos. This year’s TSMF raised money for the Palapa Society.  Run over the course of two weekends (1/14-16 and 1-21-23), the TSMF format is to shuffle the lineup each of the three nights of the respective weekends, and have the spotlighted bands supported by a revolving door of spectacular supporters and cross-pollinators from other bands (see below).

Minus 5 2 (2)

We unfortunately missed the first weekend of TSMF, which featured (for the first time) Jeff Tweedy (Wilco).  With the assistance of Wilco’s Pat Sansone and John Stirrat (separately performing as The Autumn Defense), Buck and a host of other TSFM luminaries, Tweedy managed to play 44 different songs (no repeaters*) over the three nights of TSMF’s first weekend.  Tweedy’s sets naturally included Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Golden Smog and solo songs, but also homages to the late, great David Bowie (All The Young Dudes) and covers of Neil Young (Everybody Knows This Is Nowhereand Bob Dylan (Simple Twist of Fate).  The first weekend also featured, among others, the Old 97’s, Mark Eitzel and a host of Buck’s hand-picked supporting friends (the multi-talented lads John Paul Jones (you may have heard, Led Zeppelin), Josh Kantor, Kev’n Kinney (Drivin’ N Cryin’)Scott McCaughey (Minus 5, Baseball Project), Mike Mills (REM), Chuck Prophet (Green on Red), Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate, Baseball Project) and Joseph Arthur, and lasses Linda Pitmon (Baseball Project, Minus 5), Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney) and Chloe Johnson (with the Jayhawks).  In short, the line-ups’ bands are supported by a ridiculousness of rock riches.

IMG_0112 (2)

Having never before attended TSMF, our intro couldn’t have been any better.  We came over a rise in the desert on Thursday afternoon and dropped in to the patchwork beach community along the Baja coast and shortly thereafter walked into the hosting Hotel California to find the fantastic Lefort-fave Chuck Prophet sound-checking with Kev’n Kinney.  Beauty to our ears.

IMG_0131 (2)

As the show kicked off that night, we first caught the unannounced Baseball Project (McCaughey, Wynn, Pitmon as supported by Mike Mills and Buck) singing their winsome odes to baseball’s wallopers and weirdos (lots of ’em Atlanta Braves). Next up was the most pleasant surprise of the festival for us:  Kev’n Kinney.  While we were aware of Kinney’s much-lauded band Drivin’ N Cryin’, we had lost track of Kinney (who has gone on to release critically-acclaimed albums, both solo and with Golden Palominos). The much-loved Kinney would be joined throughout the festival by various stalwart supporters (Prophet, Mills, Buck, PitmonJayhawks’ fiddler, etc.) during his sets, but it was his songwriting (Trail of Seasons and A Good Country Mile in particular) and emotive delivery that carried the nights.  Kinney started off a tad tinny vocally, but gathered strength throughout the first night’s set and especially vocally, winning over the crowd with his anthem Straight to Hell and closing out his set with an emphatically long-held high note. Next up was Joseph Arthur, one of our faves, who was a bit off his game this night but still enjoyable.

IMG_0128 (2)

Arthur was followed by one of the best live performers extant, Chuck Prophet.  Though without his Mission Express and Stephanie Finch, Prophet nonetheless gave his usual superb and crowd-pleasing set featuring songs Wish Me Luck, You Did! (backed by Kinney), The Museum of Broken Dreams, and Willie Mays Is Up At Bat (with its euphoria-inducing crowd-singalong).  The Jayhawks were up next and gave one of the best sets of the night, aided and abetted by Gary Louris’s sinewy vocals, dexterous playing by the band and the harmonies of members and guests.  As to the latter, the always-grinning Mike Mills was the MVP of Thursday night, jumping up on stage throughout the night to add bass and jubilantly-emphatic vocals to the various sets, but especially during the Jayhawks’ performance and during their closing homage to David Bowie via his Starman.  The Starman had to have been smiling down on the uplifting performance.

IMG_0109 (2)

Not to be outdone, the Drive-By Truckers were up next.  The DBTs never fail to impress and especially this evening. Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley traded off on crowd-favorite songs (Lookout Mountain, Three Dimes Down and Sink Hole stood out, as usual) and new songs and won us over completely with their never-say-die rocking and big-hearted ways. Admirably assisted by their other outstanding band members, Hood and Cooley play with unbridled verve, and Hood simply has one of the biggest souls in the business.  Hood introduced an apropos new song (What It Means[?]) confronting racial injustice in America and throughout the night interacted empathically with the crowd, regaling with stories and repartee (“you folks should build a wall around this beautiful place to keep Donald Trump and his ilk out!“).  They closed out their set with a rousing version of Bowie’s Heroes as sung (appropriately) by Hood.

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First-time TSMF participants, Death Cab for Cutieclosed out the night with a mesmerizing set of new and old songs that showcased the strength of their songwriting (old and new) but also their new-found, post-Walla energy, with newcomers Dave Depper (guitar) and Zac Rae (keys) adding immensely to one of the best rhythm sections in rock ‘n roll, Nick Harmer and Jason McGerr. And of course Ben Gibbard seized the festival’s proximity to California to lambaste Californians in song (Grapevine Fires, among them).  All in good fun, Ben, all in good fun. DCFC would add their own “obscure” Bowie cover, Valentine’s Day. While DCFC would close out the first night with aplomb, their best was still to come (their sound not being completely dialed in the first night).

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The second night of TSMF at the Hotel California was (thankfully) more of the same (re-ordered, as is its wont), and with the addition of The Minus 5.   One of the best, albeit-too-brief, sets on Friday was put on by Chuck Prophet who opened and had his ardent followers (and new fans) fully-engaged and singing/laughing along to his every word.  You never fail to walk away from a Prophet-able performance fully-entertained.  Next up were The Minus 5 and friends who gave a raving set that started off slowly with a cover of Glenn Frey’s/Jackson Browne’s Take It Easy (thankfully the first and last Eagles-related material of TSMF), but accelerated from there. They capped off their set with riveting, careening performances of Medicine Show and Days of Wine and Roses (the latter in tribute to revered Rolling Stone writer-in-attendance David Fricke).  Kev’n Kinney then regaled with another sterling set featuring his memorable songs Summertime Days and the evocative A Good Country Mile.  On the latter we noticed plenty of tear-streaked faces in the crowd, and then Kinney himself got a bit misty and glass-eyed, which made the moment that much more affecting (and after which Kinney received a large bear-hug from Mike Mills).  It’s moments like these that shed true light on the humans up on stage giving their songs and audience their all, and it was heartily appreciated.  Afterwards, Mills and Peter Buck assisted Joseph Arthur on his short set, which closed strongly.

The Jayhawks again gave the crowd a superb performance of their well-wrought old and new songs. Death Cab for Cutie then gave the performance of the night, if not the entire festival.  DCFC seemed to be on a mission to impress (both the audience and their fellow musicians).  Mission accomplished!  DCFC were en fuego from note one, putting out a rhythmic, walloping wall-of-sound (which was perfect this night) that propelled their songs to such great heights.  Only on the heart-wrenching Black Sun did the band back off the beat and let emotion take its toll.  They were quickly back to blasting business and wowed to the end with their chemistry and drive.  Drive-By Truckers closed with yet another electrifying set, the highlight of which was Hood’s World of Hurt on which he encouraged the crowd to fully appreciate the full moon above and how great it is to be alive.  The DBT’s ended the night with a scorching finale on which they gave their all and gradually left the stage, one-by-one until it was over. It was indeed great to be alive.

The final night of TSMF is always held in the Todos Santos Town Square for free so that all of the citizenry (and, apparently, others from Cabo San Lucas and elsewhere) can join in the music enjoyment.  It was another impressive night of music, with Prophet’s opening set again being a highlight.  Steve Wynn’sset was also enthralling, with Prophet and all the Minus 5 members and others slamming on Dream Syndicate’s Medicine Show and closing with a powerful, rocking take on Wynn’s Amphetamine. Other highlights of the last night included Drive-By Truckers’ (with Prophet, Buck, others) set-closing cover of Jim Carroll’s season-perfect People Who Died, and two REM covers ((Don’t Go Back To) Rockville by Steve Wynn and crew, with Mike Mills taking a capable turn as Michael Stipe, and our own REM-favorite, Fall On Meby DCFC).  La Santa Cecilia (with the assistance of John Paul Jones) also added setting-perfect musical color and accent to the evening.  It was an entertaining closing night to a truly memorable music festival, and we can’t wait to return.

*Other artists should take note and follow suit–you’ve all got a treasure trove of material, so don’t sell yourselves short by playing the same songs all three nights!  Just sayin’.

To get a feel for TSMF, check out the fan videos below, and go HERE to the TSMF Facebook page to see more video vignettes.

Mike Mills, Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn, Linda Pitmon, and Patterson Hood performing REM’s (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville:



Drive-By Truckers, John Paul Jones, Chuck Prophet, and Scott McCaughey performing People Who Died:




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25 minutes ago, FavouriteTipple said:

Thanks for this wonderful thread, Patrycja. Wonderful tunes, great pix and, admittedly, some envy of the Baja heat. :)

Appreciate it, FavouriteTipple, my pleasure :). It's fun to get a glimpse of the atmosphere and music. The next best thing to being there (even if the heat we have to imagine). 

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