Peter Buck announced that he’ll once again be bringing his musical friends back to Mexico for the second annual Todos Santos Music Festival in the Baja region on Jan. 10-26, 2013. The first weekend, Jan. 10-12, is set to feature Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 and The Minus 5. The Posies and The Baseball Project (Buck’s themed band with Steve Wynn and Scott McCaughey) will play the next weekend. Alejandro Escovedo and Joseph Arthur are set to close things down on Jan. 24-25. The Elected, Kev’n Kinney, Jon Langford, and Ken Stringfellow will also play sometime during the fest. Mexican acts such as Torreblanca will also join the lineup this year.
Admission is free, except for the smaller Hotel California sets which are $2. VIP packages, which range from $15 to $75, will get you anything from a better seat to complimentary buffet, beer and margaritas.
Buck spoke to Paste about the festival and his upcoming solo project from the road in Washington state.
“I want to keep it kind of loose and spontaneous and fun, not super professional,” he said. “When we played the hotel, which is a smaller venue, it’s more like playing a high-school dance than it is a concert, which I enjoy. And then there will be two bigger events—one at the beach and one at the town square—which will be a couple thousand people.”
At the inaugural festival back in January, Buck, who founded the event, played on stage with every single artist. “The bigger the show gets, the harder that gets for me. But it would certainly be a cool thing to do. Given that those three weeks all we really do is play music anyway—it wouldn’t be that hard for me to learn a few things.”
Buck owns a house in Todos Santos and launched the festival as a way to give back to the community. This year, the fest raised $50,000 for The Palapa Society of Todos—a non-profit working to develop educational, medical and environmental programs for local children and their families. All proceeds go directly to the charity as Buck footed the $40,000 expense bill himself, and next year’s fest will be underwritten by corporate sponsors like Mira Group, Live Nation Labs and Televisa.
Though he spends much of his time in Seattle, he likes to spend the winter further south on the Pacific Coast. “It’s just a town I like,” he said. “Dirt roads, donkeys in the street; there’s one stoplight that I accidentally blow through every single time I hit it. But it’s got a cool art community; it’s a good little scene. If I spend a lot of time there, [I got involved in] the community, which is something I’ve tried to do since a teenager, and I want to play music there. So I kinda figured out a way how to do both.”
After R.E.M. officially disbanded last year, Buck began work on his first solo record. He confirmed he sings on eight of the albums 12 tracks (McCaughey and Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker sing on the others). The album also features Bill Rieflin on drums, Lenny Kaye on lead guitar and The Decemberists’ Jenny Conlee.
“We recorded and mixed it in four and a half days,” Buck said, “and I’m hoping if I were to do another one to do it a little faster. I’m gonna try to get it down to two days. I only believe in doing things once and everyone laughs at me, but that’s really how I do it. And, you know, I love the way that that feels, and I love the spontaneity and I like the mistakes.”
Buck is releasing the album through vinyl-only label Mississippi Records later this year. “If I had wanted to make it a CD, the CD would’ve been out three months ago,” he said, “but vinyl is what I want to do for right now. It’s a record—like all records, people will have to look for it, I guess. It’s not gonna be in Walmart. We’ll see about the digital. I’m sure it’ll be out before, say, Thanksgiving. I say that with hope.”
In the meantime, Buck is playing occasional shows with McCaughey, Rieflin and a rotating cast of musicians, sometimes known as Richard M. Nixon. “It’s not really my job to be a frontman,” he said. “I’m not gonna be doing hour-long sets or anything like that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you heard some songs from my next—this new thing that I did.
“I’m leaving all my options open as far as what I want to do in the future musically and you never know,” he added. “I guess I wanted to challenge myself a little bit later in life. I haven’t really come to terms with [being a frontman]. I have no idea what’s going to happen. Everything that I’m doing—in the festival, whatever—I just want it to be fun, loose, spontaneous and natural and that’s where I’m heading.”