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The Bodega Boys

April 11, 2017

Magic Under the Moon & Stars in San Pablo Etla

Who are the Bodega Boys, and why do I romanticize them? And of course, as you can see in the drawing above, I include references to the Bodega Boys in my current graphic novel in progress, Death in Oaxaca. In the comix work, I change the name of the jam group to “Los Mezcaleros”.

From 2008 to about 2015, I attended regular jam sessions in San Pablo Etla, a small village in Oaxaca, Mexico. Of a Thursday night, an affable crew of amateur musicians would show up and jam on bluegrass, country, rock and pop. OK, maybe even jazz in our more coherent moments.

The Bodega Boys were never a band, always a jam. But, fueled by fresh-from-the-still craft Oaxacan Mezcal, we never failed to have a good time. The audience would range from 0 – 50 people, but we always put our best foot forward. Indeed, a roving band of (at first) about 10 musicians forged a camaraderie and eventually played pretty darn well.

Over time, there was a revolving door and the core group grew and splintered, but the basic ethos continued and we always had fun. For me, it was a baptism of fire. I was the odd man out, having never played seriously until the unlikely age of 51 (minus Junior High band), I cut my musical teeth there under the moon in San Pablo Etla, and I never had so much goddamn fun in my life.

Here’re a few photos by Jeff Charles, snapped at these magic evenings under the Oaxaca moon.

Photo #1, Bill Stair and Todd Spiehler, 2009.

Photo #2, Bill Stetcher, aka “Bill Blak”

Photo #3, Tony Raab aka “Juan Adobe”

Drawing, Bill Stair as a calavera, by myself.

-Steve Lafler

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From → graphic novel

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