South of the Border, Down Mexico way...

May 16, 2018

South of the Border!

It all started with Promoter Sam Densler’s Island Showcase in Isla Mujeres. He has a knack for pairing the right people for great music. He did all the work and we showed up. I once heard “If you build it they will come!” As far as music concerts are concerned, Sam is a master builder!


We left our country to visit a neighboring one…Mexico. Planes, cabs, fast ferries and golf carts made it all happen for us. It’s so refreshing to get away to places that are beautiful, friendly, calming yet bustling with excitement. There are no political debates nor nasty words joined by ugly frowns on Isla Mujeres. 


I heard Isla Mujeres means Isle of Women, yet there are at least as many men here as women. I think it should mean JOYFUL PLACE.


Our group of visitors were from places all across America. NautiBeach is where most of us booked to stay. It is right on the edge of The Gulf of Mexico. The bright blue waters are bluer than any I have ever seen (even the loveliest beaches in Florida don’t compare). The sand is soft and pristine white and the water feels like “Fabric Softener was added” as described by my sister, Beverly. It is the best water I have ever been submerged in, bar none. This was my second trip and each time the people who live here and work here were kind, friendly, funny and welcoming. This show has been booked again for May 2019 and If I am still able bodied…I am absolutely going!


In addition to music we went on great snorkeling trips and we road golf carts around to the farthest reaches of the island, observing the natives of this land and iguanas which are sometimes pets. We swam in the waters, (pool waters and the gulf). We attended a wonderful reception (I believe it was a place called Sky Bar) that was located on a roof overlooking the harbor and as we ate, we watched beautifully lit ships come and go and we felt the caress of gentle breezes.


My son Eric Erdman and Jenn Bostic were the performers and they are quite a team. This is their second show together in Mexico but they have duo-ed together in Key West, Florida and other locations. Jenn is a keyboardist primarily but also plays the guitar very well, and of course she is a phenomenal vocalist. She currently has a number one song in England. She sells out big venues in Europe. Her fabulous #1 song is titled, “Jealous of the Angels”. It is a heartbreaking song of the loss of her father. He too was a musician. You must watch the video, listen to the song, buy it. I promise you will play it until it wears out. Another of my favorite songs that Jenn has written (and performs) is “Why Are Ya Haunting Me”. We all hear or half-hear lyrics and make them our own. I sometimes have no idea what the writer specifically is inspired by, but what matters is how those lyrics apply to me. 


She tells of a past lover that is no longer there, yet things around her remind her of his presence…these memories haunt her. For me it is clear that so many reminders are here from my love and often they make me smile, sometimes they make me cry; always they take me back to him. For me there is a melancholy feeling yet the music she put with the lyrics includes sharp strokes on the keyboard that lift me back up to the good memories. I love the combination of lyric and music she comes up with for each song. In many ways she reminds me of my son in that respect.


Jenn  hit the nail on the head with her song,“Faint of Heart”. It expresses the frustrations of great musicians that have to fight their whole lives to get recognition or attention for their music. The line “Dreaming is not for the faint of heart” means so much to me as I have seen more than my share of fabulously talented musicians right here in Mobile who fight for their music dreams daily…and I have seen a fair share of them that have given up the fight (it is painful to watch).


It is my belief that a percentage (I heard approximately 6%) of society came to this life with music in their soul, music is embedded in their DNA. A true musician cannot have a happy life if he or she lays that music down, while knowing in their gut music is what drives them. 


It is tough to make a decent living with music and often you must play to people who are distracted with eating or watching sports on TV, or visiting with friends at their table or playing pool.  For the musician it is a soul-sucking experience that makes them question why they are doing this. They should not have to go through this, but it happens every single day somewhere.


Eric Erdman also has a new CD out, titled “Its Not Like You Don’t Know Me”. His title song for this CD also addresses the shows where people’s primary reason for being there is not for the music. In his song he speaks to the few in the crowd that ARE there for the music and how special they are to him and his fellow musicians. It is a feeling of, “Wow that couple over there is actually listening!” or “That group is singing along to my music!” In those non-listening room environments, the tiny percentage of listeners charge the musician’s batteries enough; allowing them to carry on and be happy.


Just as Jenn’s song “Jealous of The Angels” brings tears to every audience…so does Eric’s song “The Well”. His song “The Well” was originally written about his co-writer’s brother going through a tough time with drug addiction and as his family has done everything they can to pull him back into normalcy…they now realize it is he who must want that and it is he who must make that happen by pulling himself up from the bottom of the well where he finds himself now. The Well can also apply to anyone who is facing a struggle in life, such as: the death of a loved one, or medical catastrophe in the family, or even divorce. I have played it for many people and every single one applies it to themselves. Often we hear the lyrics only as they apply to us.


The first show in this string of concerts was at Fenix Beach Club. This venue was on an enormous deck with a huge thatched roof. Most structures on this island (even homes) have fabulous thatched roofs. This series of shows were set up with a wonderful backdrop of paradise. How could you not have fun there, they even had an ice cream shop right beside the deck. The music flowed in the breeze and touched us all.


On Saturday there was a fabulous pool party at Captain Dolce’s place. This place has a massive sail boat mounted on a once-turning platform (it no longer turns). It has a great bar, a fabulous kitchen,  and on this day it had live music by Eric and Jenn …it just don’t get any better than that. At the end of the show, everyone jumped into the pool! (It is a huge square pool with fountains and cabanas all around. The owner of Captain Dolce’s is much like the guy on that beer commercial…”I don’t always drink beer, but when I do I drink Dos Equis!” “Stay safe my friends!” He is usually smoking a cigar and he looks and acts a lot like this man in the commercial. I would describe him as welcoming, and a good story teller.


We went on to have a special Mother’s Day show as Eric and Jenn sang some gospel songs and some love songs such as…“How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By you”. These two have written several wonderful songs together…one is “Waitin’ on You”…It is a dedication to me and Barbara (Jenn’s mother) and on that day, they dedicated it to all mothers in the audience. It says “You give the shirt right off your back” “I’m waitin’ on you to put you first” is a wonderful song!


The finale show was at the Mayan Beach Club and we were all sitting in the sand at tables with nice linen tablecloths and lights were hung all around us and tiki torches abounded. Our shoes were kicked aside and our toes dug into the soft sand as we had dinner and drinks. The waves were coming in and kissing the sand all evening and we all turned and watched the sun as it set in its deep reddish orange color. Somehow it all just felt right.


I want to mention that Jenn has released a new CD  titled REVIVAL…check it out at your earliest convenience.


This was a combination of vacation, meeting new friends, re-uniting with old friends, shopping, eating fabulous food that was not only delicious but each dish was displayed like a work of art. I was fortunate to have my son, my sister and my brother-in-law to enjoy the whole week with me. 


Of course the live music was some of the best I have ever heard. These two performers know how to read each other and complete each other’s thoughts…they also know when to stand silent on a song that stands well all alone without help. Thats what a professional musician does! If you ever get a chance to go to Isla Mujeres, Mexico….go, run, just do it!


Juanita Smith

Music Mom



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