Last updateFri, 18 Jul 2014 3pm

La Manzanilla Memo - March 9, 2013

Costalegre’s live music capital

When The TallBoys Band came to La Manzanilla last Sunday afternoon, I expected them to be good. With the previous night’s palapalooza performance of Scottie and Friends still ringing in my ears, though, I found it difficult to believe anyone could be appreciably better than that particular pick-up group of wandering minstrels. Scottie and each of his friends, after all, plays and sings and has a fan base on his respective home turf. Playing together, they kick ass. About three chords into The TallBoys’ opening song, however, it was obvious that they were about to kick some bigger, badder rock-and-roll butt than has been kicked here in recent memory. And that they did.

The TallBoys are lead and acoustic guitarist and vocalist David Truly, Flip Nicholson on keyboard and vocals, bass and acoustic player Joel Barker, and drummer Dale Hetler, (plus Gary Trego, currently on tour with the band, on pedal steel guitar). Their well seasoned voices are deliciously crisp and tight, blending harmonies as smooth as an añejo margarita. Their love of playing shines through every finely honed song, whether it’s one of their country-tinged originals or a favorite from back in the day. The TallBoys possess my personal criterion for a great band – the ability to transport an audience out there somewhere and ease it back to earth, almost before you know you’ve been gone. I call it the Pink Floyd Effect, but you know what I mean if you’ve ever made the trip. Dancing to their music is a reflex action, with (almost) as much energy and abandon as you had in the sixties.

This was the Ajijic-based band’s first La Manzanilla appearance.  Playing cover songs from the soundtrack for our generation, The TallBoys have made fans among the senior set throughout the Lakeside area, plus San Miguel de Allende, San Luis Potosi and other inland metropolises, with brief incursions into Puerto Vallarta suburbs. Three years ago they opened in Manzanillo and have been working their way up the coast, finally finding La Manzanilla. Kudos to Jolanda and Leon, of Jolanda’s beachfront restaurant, for scoring this musical coup.

Coming up for The TallBoys Band is the gala Niños de Chapala fundraiser on March 15, where they’ll debut the video for their new CD’s title track, On Your Own.  Legendary record producer Stuart Epps produced the video with Cobra Films in Guadalajara. The music CD is a mix of originals and covers, some live, all good. In May they plan to head back up to the Austin, Texas area to revisit fans in a few clubs up there. Check out their website, www.tallboysband.com, to listen to their music, get on their mailing list and find out where they’re performing near you. 

I’m pretty sure The TallBoys Band will be back next year. They seemed really impressed when I explained to them that La Manzanilla has become the “live-music capital of the Costalegre.” Say what?  Our neighbors in Melaque and Barra may question this bold and unsubstantiated statement, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 

What La Manzanilla has been to resident and guest artists, it is becoming to itinerant musicians. They seem to be drawn here. Right off the top of my head I can count a dozen restaurants in this town that feature live entertainment once a month, once a week, or more often during the season, with very little overlap. The number of musicians who pass through and play music here, often just for tips, is staggering. 

Palapa Joe’s leads the pack with their own house band, the Lounge Lizzards, playing every Friday night.  Alternating Open Mic Night, for all comers including one-night stands, with Scottie and Friends, rockers who play by invitation only, on Saturday nights has consistently produced an international lineup of live entertainment. That same Scottie Turner also played a Wednesday evening dinner set, and it wasn’t unusual to see a musically noteworthy visitor playing on any given weeknight.

Jolanda’s  draws a crowd with music and dancing once or twice a week, featuring area-favorite bands such as The Redneck Mothers, the Bandidos, and the Nehuales. Las Cabañas across the street has presented local player Jerry Forman, Daniel and Carolina, and, of course, Elvis impersonator David Weber. The Afrodisiacs have appeared regularly at Martin’s,where diners have enjoyed the sweet sounds of winter resident Bethany Lynn on Friday nights.  Clint “Bruno” Parnell has a regular Wednesday rooftop gig at family restaurant Café de Flores.

Mike and Simone, perennial favorites at the annual Cisco’s Music Night, and Bonnie Gibson, both popular entertainers on the Barra/Melaque circuit, have come up to rock La Manzanilla diners and dancers at restaurants Chantli Mare and Mayahuel respectively. Dozens of musicians who choose not to take their acts public have been known to sit in on the jam sessions hosted by Triskele Celtic Duo Myranda O’Byrne and Michael Price two Tuesdays a month.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of extraordinarily good musical entertainment that has been available here this season.  The field grows bigger and better each year. If anyone cares to dispute that La Manzanilla is the Costalegre’s live-music capital, I’m thinking a musical slap-down would be an interesting addition to next season’s event calendar.