Cadillac Ranch? In Mexico? What's up with that?
The Redneck Mothers are not up against any wall.
What in the heck am I talking about? Read on....
By Susan Dearing
"Well, there she sits
buddy justa gleaming in the sun
Are y'all ready for some fun? Is dancin' to country music or golden oldies on your vacation agenda? How 'bout pool, darts, ping pong, weight lifting? Crave some great Mexican food? Want to schmooze with a crazy Canadian waitress who dances in between delivering drink orders? You've come to the right place to see Steve Park's band, "The Redneck Mothers," who only play on Saturday from 3-6 at the Cadillac Ranch in Barra de Navidad.
Please click on photos to enlarge
|Owner Don Deines, a
"retired" Canadian, named his business after his 1956 light
yellow Cadillac with only 40,000 miles.
At 61, Don enjoys his restaurant/bar to the fullest, sitting down and chatting with customers, and dancing with his lovely lady Iliana, who is also the chef. In the kitchen Iliana whips up tasty specialties of gorditas, burritos and enchiladas.
|Not only does Don have a love affair with old cars, but he has also owned quite a few motorcycles. After being involved in up to 8 bike accidents, he's decided to live the good life in Mexico. Though Don says the Cadillac Ranch isn't a big money-maker, it's clear that he enjoys the place and the people who frequent it, particularly the band. Darts and pool are popular pastimes when The Redneck Mothers aren't playing.|
|Steve Park, 57, has had a 23-year love affair with Mexico. Steve started playing the guitar at age 12, and has been doing charity gigs for the past 10 years in Mexico. With other musicians, he was lead singer in the popular group "Bubba & the Bottom Feeders," playing well known spots in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. After visiting Barra de Navidad, something clicked, and Steve decided to make a move. Now Steve and his wife Yuli (who tends bar at the Ranch) are building a house in the area, and plan to stay. Park has written more than 1,000 songs, but he says shyly, "Only about 60 of them are good." Those who hear Steve's music, may disagree. Lines from his songs like, "I can't tell you've been cryin' when it's rainin'," are good for a chuckle or two, but other songs are serious and haunting.|
|All of the songs The Redneck Mothers played were great, as was the CD we enjoyed all the way back to Manzanillo. For a sample of Steve's music and more info go to his web site. For 28 years, Steve had a "real job" working for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Now, he says, smiling, "I have the freedom to live where I want to live, and do what I want to do." Steve and the Redneck Mothers will be playing at the 4th of July Dog Days of Summer Chili Cook-off in Manzanillo, to benefit the humane society, Amigos por un Refugio Animal," (ARA) to be held at El Caribe Restaurant.||
||Trish Alexander (keyboard) has been with the band for 5 years, and she and her husband John have also relocated to Barra, and are building a home near Steve and Yuli. Beginning piano lessons in second grade at age 6 in Biggsville, Illinois, Trish recalls her entire family playing together, and she enjoyed music so much she was constantly involved in school programs and musicals. Another "Mexicophiliac," Trish studied Spanish in Mexico City, and then taught Spanish through music. Though classically trained, she loves rock and roll, and country, growing up with Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis. Often, she teams with Steve to write songs. When asked, "What's your favorite song that Steve's written," she smiles and says, "The last one!"|
|Adding an odd twist to the story of the band, Trish's brother died in December of 1978, and the third member, Blaine Evans never picked up an instrument until that date, when he was 32 years of age. Instantly, by ear, he started playing the mandolin as well as the guitar. Trish says Blaine also looks very much like her brother. The quiet one of the group, he started coming to Mexico when his mother bought a condo in Puerto Vallarta in the early '70s. When Blaine first started playing the guitar, he'd stroll the streets of Old Town, P.V., and play for anyone who would listen. He and his wife, Barb, have also moved to Barra and are building a house. He's from Alberta, Canada, and loves country, folk and Celtic music, and enjoys playing the original music that Steve writes.||
|While the band is playing,
drinks are flowing, and Heather, one of the waitresses, hasn't quite
decided if she wants to dance, drink, or wait tables. Don laughingly says
of Heather, "People love her bubbly personality, but sometimes she
gets the orders mixed up. One busy Saturday, according to a customer, she
brought a gin and tonic instead of a vodka tonic. When the customer
complained, she drank the G & T, and said, "Yeah, you're
right," and swiftly brought the customer the correct drink!"
Heather is from Edmonton, Canada, and moved to Barra 13 years ago. On Vancouver Island, she worked for a newspaper in the advertising department. Visiting Barra on vacation, she fell in love with the area. "You know how long it took for me to liquidate everything and move here?" she asks. "Like that!" Heather says, snapping her fingers.
Smoking a cigarette, and holding a beer in one hand and a shot in the other, Heather quips, "I'm going to be 50 tomorrow, and I'm going to turn over a new leaf--a fig leaf!"
Heather also enjoys painting when she's not partying, and brought some of her paintings to the Cadillac Ranch to sell. She enjoys the laid-back lifestyle of Barra, and shares painting notes with Jacques Derge, who also does commissioned art work in the Barra area. One of his paintings can be seen in Penny's Deli & Eatery.
The Cadillac Ranch has a unique personality, and it's quite unlike anyplace I've ever been in Mexico--or any place else for that matter. Even the ladies' room has a unique stall (behind the Ricky Martin poster).
Then, as if excitement in the W.C. isn't enough, animal lovers take heart! Pets are allowed, and in fact, there were 5 (including my own) when we were there the last time.
When the Redneck Mothers finally wind down at the end of a Saturday, finishing with a medley of oldies, such as "Hang on Sloopy," "Twist & Shout," and "Louie, Louie," the audience hears Steve give his signature close, "Gracias, y'all!"
This is a chance to do something different this summer, meet some really nice people, and find out what Barra's Cadillac Ranch is all about!
Cadillac Ranch also offers golf practice on a driving range, and fields for soccer, volleyball and badminton. To reach Cadillac Ranch turn off Hwy. 200 on the Barra de Navidad access road. Across from the Rancho Aurora water park is a rough dirt road that will lead you directly to Cadillac Ranch. E-mail Don at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sorry, no web site yet, but his cell phone is (315) 100-7602. To call locally from Barra, use the prefix 044; to call from within Mexico, use the prefix 045; to call from the U.S. or Canada, dial 011-521 and then the number.
To order an updated version of the tourist guidebook about Barra de Navidad and Melaque, go to this web page.