Sunday, March 8, 2015

Amuse your Muse in Loreto Bay.

This week the Wine Cellar @ Nopolo was the scene of another musical evening, but this time with a different “Headliner”.  James and his wife Jennifer are from Dallas where he works as a hairdresser and is part of Def Leggend, a professional tribute band for the heavy metal group Def Leppard, while she heads up a call center for a major jewelry retailer.

They were first attracted to the Loreto area about 5 years ago after Jennifer saw the New York Times article that included Loreto on a list of “Places to see”.  They had travelled extensively in Mexico for years but the quieter, less developed nature of Loreto appealed to them so they booked the trip – and Loreto did its magic on them.  Skip ahead several years and they have now purchased an uncompleted home just north of Loreto Bay that they are planning to custom finish.

However, since both James and Jennifer are close to 50 and they will continue to be working for the foreseeable future, Loreto will continue to be a vacation destination for them, even after they complete their home here.  But since spending a couple of weeks a year here over the past several years, this week’s performance at the Wine Cellar was not James’ first here in Loreto Bay, in fact he has played the Wine Cellar before, as well as at another restaurant here and a New Year’s gig at the Inn at Loreto Bay one year.

James grew up as the only musician in a non-musical family, starting to play guitar in elementary school.  He started his first band in Grade 5 and music has been an important part of his life ever since.  He started playing professionally almost 30 years ago and became a hairdresser to keep himself busy between gigs.  His professional career now is mainly focused on his work in the Tribute Band, which he describes as a combination of music and a tightly choreographed acting performance.  His band is successful, performing in many Casinos and Festivals and playing before a crowd of 5,000 the night before their departure to Loreto for this trip.  But James also has an acoustic repertoire that he performs solo, which was the music a standing room crowd at the Wine Cellar enjoyed this week. 

I have written here in previous posts how living in Loreto Bay has encouraged a number of Residents to flourish as musicians, and provided a venue for others who have had some prior professional experience to pursue their love of music here.  But whether these musicians had been professional at one time or not, here in Loreto Bay they can all be considered “Amateur” in the BEST sense of the word.  Because they are performing here only for their love of music – since Foreigners cannot be paid to perform in Mexico without the necessary work visa. 

The performances we enjoy here by ex-pats are officially unpaid gigs, so the musicians don’t run afoul of the Immigration Service, and I suggest that “gratis status” adds a special element to the entertainment.  These people are playing for the love of the music and the joy they get from performing it, as well as the pleasure they receive from the appreciation and support they get from the audiences they entertain.  Removing the remuneration from the performance, I suspect has an effect on the motivation of the performer – they are not playing for the money, but for their love of what they do.

While that difference means one thing for a retired person who is making music part of their lifestyle here, I assume it takes on perhaps even greater significance to someone who is still actively involved as a professional musician and performer.  For the “hobby” musician this environment and community is open, accepting and supportive of their passion and through that support it creates a safe space for their skill to develop and their talent to flourish.  For someone to whom music is a business elsewhere, perhaps playing for free in Loreto Bay gives them an opportunity to get back to the roots of what brought them to music in the first place, and as a “busman’s holiday” it allows them to indulge their muse in a way that their commercial career does not.

However, in either case, we – the audience – clearly receives the benefit and enjoyment from these performances in the ways that only live music can provide.  But, in addition to the simple pleasure of listening to music, there is a further value that enhances the experience for us and that is the sense of community and identity that comes from either knowing the performer as a friend and neighbor, or appreciating the fact that a Visitor feels so much at home here that they are motivated to perform to express their enjoyment at being here, and wanting to feel a part of it by playing for us.

In either case, for these people music is both a form of expression and an avocation, as well as providing a connection between the performer and the audience.  However, for other people that expression may take other forms; there is a thriving artistic community here that takes inspiration from the beauty that surrounds us, others find more physical outlets through yoga, exercise, cycling and golf, all of which activities, and more, can be pursued here.  For some the water is their passion; swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and paddle boarding, not to mention boating and fishing in one of the best protected marine parks in the world.

So what we have developed here is providing an opportunity for self-expression, personal development, or just recreation, and for a growing number of us who call this place home that may be the best part of “Living Loreto”!