Cuates y Cuetes: The Musical Ride

CC’s started as a beach bar 25 years ago – November 1st will be their 26th anniversary. It is still a beach bar today; sand everywhere and that’s okay. You can put your feet up on the chairs if there’s no one sitting in them because they are beach chairs, made to be used at the beach.

There have been a few improvements over the years. You no longer have to get the key from the bartender to use the bathroom. There is a roof on the land side of the restaurant and umbrellas on the beach-side tables.

The beer is still icy cold, and it comes in a bottle; ask for a glass. Some of the staff members have been there as long as the bar has been open. The food comes out of the kitchen (another improvement) on the same traditional platters, still heaped with Mexican food, delicious and inexpensive. The decorations change a little according to the season and festivities, but usually, corn hangs from the ceiling.

The thing about Cuates y Cuetes is a sense of family; after a quarter of a century, folks that live here know it’s a great place to take first-time visitors – everything about CC’s is comfortable and unpretentious. You can do a lot of things in that space – get some sun, or shade, food, or great huge margaritas.

The kids can go play in the surf; everybody will keep an eye on them. You can swim, and you can dance, and you can sit and listen to some of the finest musicians in the world (for example -Tom Coster is coming on the 21st; he is Carlos Santana’s keyboard player); in Mexico – Rafael Zermeño and in Vallarta?….that list is a mile long.

When Maria Elena Zermeño Santana moved to Vallarta from Cancun, she wanted a place to dance. On the beach; how romantic and perfect! November 1, 1993, CC’s opened with not much fanfare.

A couple of years later, however, Music by the name of Martin Montenegro strolled into the life of CC’s with his saxophone, and the first Jazz Musical Festival took place on the old pier. The Festival has continued every year since.

Now ten days long, the roster of musicians has changed and increased to the point of becoming a full-time job just to find spaces for everyone who wants to come and play in the city’s most important music festival.

The woman behind the scheduling is Esther, daughter of Maria Elena. Esther – known as Tete to those close to her – had a long list in front of her the other day when I stopped by. The back of a legal-sized white envelope was covered in names…written in pencil – a scheduling nightmare, which is why I don’t have a list…there is still an entire week before the Festival opens!

For sure Tom Coster will be playing the evening of the 21st. Likely to make appearances include Moruno, Tatawari, Media Luna, Faralae and so many more. The thing to remember is the music will be great; go early (musicians start at 4 pm) have some lunch and be thoroughly entertained. The sunsets are regularly fantastic, the sand and the sea are warm. Keep the smile on your face – you never know who is watching on CC’s famous webcam.

See you at the Festival!

Marcia Blondin