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Earlier this year, during the Mexican Moonshine golf classic in January, Roger Clyne remarked he was initially drawn to the idea of having this year’s Circus Mexicus under the full moon of Friday the 13th. Though Circus Mexicus took place a week earlier, and under a waxing night orb, the fates had been tempted and trickery was in the air. I guess this was appropriate as reflecting on the tarot card theme of RCPM’s newest album “The Independent”, guest writer Tom Syvertson had explained the number “0” is the Fool card – meaning “living in the moment, letting go of expectations, doing the unexpected, acting impulsively and being carefree….going with the flow.”
Going with the flow began on Thursday evening at the christening of Banditos when the bottle of Mexican Moonshine Silver didn’t break (twice) to help baptize Roger’s new drinking hole south of the border. As the song says, “if your bottle’s empty, help yourself to mine”, so Roger opened up the Moonshine tequila and passed it around instead, before offering words of both “refuge and refreshment”.
Circus Mexicus XXIII officially began that night with a kick-off party splayed across the multi-tiers of JJ’s Cantina in Cholla Bay. Random Karma launched into the evening night’s rock as the sun set and humidity rose. Ghetto Cowgirl, led by the unmistakable essence of front man Marc Norman (and hair) were up next and then Jim Dalton and Johnny Hickman…of the “Dalton-Hickman-Dalton-Hickman-Dalton” Hickman-Dalton Gang. With Nick on bass and PH on drums, Roger joined the Gang for a first song – launching easily into Cracker’s Movie Star. The ringmaster of the evening ended up being Nate from Virginia who had arranged with Jim to go on stage for a song, ending with a proposal to his girl Jennifer out in the crowd. She said yes!
Mystery lurked in the background that evening as Roger hinted the stage and equipment were having a hard time getting across the border.
Sometime early the next morning, the stage made its way to “Banditos Amphitheater” and everything was in motion for another night of amazing music with Austin strumming heroes Shurman, Tucson based Sand Rubies, and the stellar rock of Cracker. That evening’s Circus surprise rolled in sometime after 10 as a blanket of fog crept over the desert and across the concert grounds, enveloping the stage as surrounding buildings seemingly vanished. A brief break in the fog came right as Cracker ended, while swarms of Peacemakers and Crumbs (as fans of RCPM and Cracker are called, respectively) emptied out into the parking lot/mini-concert grounds of Banditos across the street where Elvis before Noon kept the fiesta going!
Saturday morning was time once more for Roger Clyne’s Rock-n-Soccer out on the beach in front of Wrecked, now with the extensive arm of the homeport breakwater serving as background. This year, the team Sonoran Sun and Madness was crowned Rock-n-Soccer champions! Felicidades! Also on Saturday, a group of Peacemakers made their annual trek to Esperanza para los Niños children’s shelter north of town – with the conclusion that PH’s Hot Dog & a Smile held on Friday (as in years past) is better for filling up the trailer with in-kind donations.
That evening, streams of people made their way onto the sandy grounds of “Banditos Amphitheater” where The Black Moods proceeded to blow our minds in opening up for RCPM! After a simple intro of just four words, “Hi, we’re The Black Moods”, “Air Josh” Kennedy along with Ryan Prier on bass and Chico Diaz on drums magically dominated every corner of the stage while throngs of new fans were instantly lured!
It was finally time for Roger, Jim, Nick, and PH to take the stage – opening up spectacularly with the traditional Mexico to the echo of fireworks crossing the sky! Yet, the trickster card of the night appeared early on when Roger explained his voice was suddenly giving out…no fear, all the musicians were there! Shurman, the Black Moods, Ghetto Cowgirl, and even Lawrence Zubia of The Pistoleros, plus Jason Boots, took turns in between a song or two with Roger’s voice and the evening turned into a three-ring music fest before a crowd of easily over 3000! A longer than usual intermission allowed for a quick rewrite of the set list and Roger was back, calling up for a Mexican Moonshine tequila fix to cure his vocals and the music kept going past midnight, winding up and down through Mekong, Green and Dumb, and wrapping with Nada! Hats off and salud to all the musicians who stepped up and kept the music going all night long!
By Sunday (yes…four days to this three-ring Circus), music seeking souls made their way to JJ’s Cantina once more for PH’s Hot Dog & A Smile paired with about 6 hours of rock, a calm sea, blazing sunshine, a whiff of humidity (just check Marc’s hair), and even tunes of Happy Birthday for Josh Kennedy. PH was busy with the hot dogs, Jim and Johnny swaggered into the cantina late afternoon, Nick darted around both back and front stage and we hope the Circus Mexicus Ringmaster himself Roger Clyne was able to take care of his chords with a little Mexican Moonshine.
Check out our photo gallery: Circus Mexicus 2014