SV Pandion

Cruising with Music

Playing music is super important to me! Before leaving California I was playing electric guitar in the House Band at the School of Rock, San Mateo.  I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be playing any live performances while on the sailing trip. After we arrived in La Paz I realized that I was very wrong. I found that La Paz had numerous open mics that welcomed me in. I put together a playlist, and started practicing. Even after La Paz I found that most of the bigger towns we were in had an open mic or two somewhere. If they didn't, or one wasn't happening that night, I've even gone out and busked on the street. I learned that if said I wanted to play, people would usually tell me a good spot.

Me playing guitar with my band
Me playing guitar with the School of Rock San Mateo House Band

Open Mics

One thing that Mexico introduced me to is the Microfono Abierto (Open Mic). We found groups of locals, cruisers and ex-pats who play music and host open mics at bars or restaurants all over Mexico. Usually you show up and put your name on a list, the host will then fit you in if they have a slot open and you get 3 - 4 songs to play. Sometimes there will be a band to play with, or some of the other musicians will come up and play. The open mics are really fun and they would sometimes happen at different places three or four nights a week. I was performing more than I ever did in California. I once even played two shows in one night! The open mics are often run by a small group of people in one town, and you see the same people at the open mics all over town, so after you've been at a place for a while playing at open mics, you kind of join the music community in each place. I'm super grateful to be a part of these communities. Even though I'm young, I've gotten to play with some amazing musicians and have been able to grow as a guitarist. From where we've been, I've found that La Paz, La Cruz and Zihuatanejo have had the best music community for open mics.

An open mic in La Paz
An open mic in La Paz with a visitor from Columbia, a local ex-pat and a retired music teacher. 

Keeping an Electric Guitar On a Boat

I was worried that my guitar wouldn't be able to handle boat-life (I can barely handle the heat some days), so I was relived to find that it's not as bad as I thought it might be. As the temperature and humidity started rising, I was having trouble keeping my guitar in tune. It needed about a month or so for the wood to expand and the guitar to get used to the temperature and humidity changes. I also found that guitars can be affected by extreme temperature changes throughout the day. Apparently, if a guitar is exposed to high humidity for too long, it can permanently damage the guitar, but I haven't had any problems. Some places with high humidity, however, like Zihuatanejo, I had to change my strings almost every two weeks as I was watching the rust form. Electric guitar strings in Mexico have been very hard to find (especially if you want a certain thickness), and often break much faster than the strings that I'm used to in the US.

Busking

Another way I've been able to preform is by busking. It's a bit harder, because you need to haul around your equipment, which is hard to hold on a boat, and you aren't guaranteed an audience. I've only busked once because I've just been going to open mics, and in some places its illegal to busk, so it's a pain trying to figure out if you're allowed to busk or not. A benefit of busking is that you can play as many songs as you want, and sometimes make a bit of money (however if your looking for money to fund your trip, busking is not exactly your best choice).

Busking on the streets of La Paz
Busking on The Malecon of La Paz

Preforming During Covid

Performances are my main motivation to practice guitar, so being unable to preform during covid has been hard, however, I have found one way to perform. I set up all my stuff on the back of the boat, other boats can bring their dingys and raft up, while I play off the back of the boat covid free! I've also started a YouTube account for videos from my open mic performances and covers from the boat. Feel free to check it out at Everest Franz.

My YouTube page
My boat concert in Barra de Navidad
Rock the Stern! in Barra de Navidad
Author image
Sea of Cortez
Shredder of guitars, lover of pugs, and all-around great kid!
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