by Justin Porter Biel

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A DOSE OF GREAT MUSIC, GREAT PEOPLE, AND A SLOWER PACE OF LIFE? If so, it’s time to pack your bags, wave goodbye to the Cabo tourist corridor, and take a cruise up the Pacific coast. After an hour’s drive filled with pristine ocean views and rolling green hills, you’ll drop into a lush seaside region, an oasis in the desert marked by organic farms and palm forests. Drive a bit farther, and you’ll come to a historic town with cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and a view of the ocean. If you make it this far, then welcome… you’ve arrived in Todos Santos.

A designated “Pueblo Magico,” Todos Santos is known as a haven for artists and holds many festivals each year. But this January, the community of Todos Santos will be more alive than ever, as the Tropic of Cancer Concert Series comes to town. The music festival, which takes place January 11-21, gathers “local and national touring musical acts for two weekends of music, love, and art.”

A creation of musician and part-time Todos Santos resident Joe Firstman, the Tropic of Cancer Concert Series will bring talented musicians from Mexico and the U.S., offering nightly shows spread across a half-dozen venues. The festival will be hosted by Firstman’s band, The Cordovas, with the remaining lineup hand-picked by Firstman himself. “We like to get very personal with the musicians we invite,” said Firstman. “These people are all my friends.”

The lineup features La Santa Cecilia, Bostich + Fussible of Nortec Collective, Joan Osborne, Denise Carlos of Las Cafeteras, La Victoria, the Autumn Defense, and many more. A handful of local musicians from Todos Santos will also be playing during the two-week event. “The local guys keep the music scene going in Todos all year,” said Firstman, “they deserve to play.” Spanning genres such as rock and roll, folk, Latin, electronic, reggae, and others, the festival will have something for everyone.

With tickets ranging from as low as $20 for individual shows, and only $90 for a full-access pass, the Tropic of Cancer Music Series features impressive artists at an unbeatable price.

The man behind the festival, Firstman is a multi- instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and bandleader. Born and raised in Charlotte, NC, he has spent much of his adult life in Los Angeles, CA, and has owned a house in Todos Santos since 2006. Talking with Firstman, there’s an unmistakable passion beneath his laid-back surfer drawl, and in minutes, his inspiration for the festival becomes crystal clear. Obviously its driven by his passion for music. But on a deeper level, the festival is the result of Firstman’s admiration for the people and community of Todos Santos, his home away from home.

Firstman knows that Todos Santos is a special place, and like many residents, he feels privileged to be a part of the tight-knit community. So when it came to designing
the festival, Firstman said he “took cues his from friends in the local community.” “We had to make sure,” said Firstman, “that everyone in town was going to benefit.” To that end, the Tropic of Cancer Concert Series is intended to be an all- inclusive, community event, with tickets sales going to support the bomberos, Todos Santos’ local fire department.

Even as an accomplished, professional musician, Firstman comes off as humble and open. He’s what you hope all rock stars can be – cool, un-jaded, and highly obsessed with sharing art with the world. But when discussing the festival, and what it could mean to the Todos Santos community, Firstman’s confidence and excitement becomes palpable. Over the phone I hear a sense of purpose in the man’s voice, and its clear the festival is about more than just music.

“I really feel like we’re doing something important,” said Firstman.
Joe Firstman and his band, The Cordovas, will host the Tropic Of Cancer Concert Series
in Todos Santos, BCS, MX from January 11-21.

To learn more and get tickets, please visit: tropicofcancerconcertseries.mx