Excitement, exhilaration, exhaustion, these three words pretty much sum up how we all feel following 3 weeks of the first ever Todos Santos Music Festival. 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 awesome crowd was then treated to a set by local favorites, Flashback. Their set was followed with a stellar performance by Chuck Prophet, who started solo acoustic, and than finished electric with the backing of Peter, Scott and Bill. We were then all mesmerized by The Elected, 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. Palapa Society President, Erick Ochoa gave a speech thanking everyone for generously supporting the event and Peter followed 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 (mayor) of Todos Santos was on hand as was the minister of tourism for Baja. 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 hero 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 that was not the end. 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 weeks 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. 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. Thank you so much to all of the amazingly talented musicians who donated their time to this spectacular event. Thank you Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn, Linda Pitmon, Robyn Hitchcock, Bill Rieflin, Dave Depper, John Ramberg, Kev’n Kinney, Chuck Prophet, Fernando Viciconte, Blake Sennett, Brittany Smith and Olivia Marisco. 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 already 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 look forward to see all of you here again next year!

–Chloe Johnson

All photos by Howard Ekman