Mexmo

“Why don’t you start the Mexican Motown? Not just record artists, nurture their confidence and stage presence too. You can call it Mexmo!” Those words were prophetically uttered by my longtime music buddy Chris Montez on my front porch as he contemplated his dream of retiring to Mexico and working with kids. That was over four years ago. Chris is still on the road delighting audiences worldwide with his many hits. There’s even a documentary of his life in production now, Chris Montez, A Man and His Music. Be sure and watch for it, he’s a musical treasure.

Mexmo became a corporation in Mexico and currently working on our 21st CD. Our goals have always included creating events for local charity groups, and encouraging amateur and professional musicians and singers. Mexmo! Mexmo is located in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. Commonly referred to as a “drinking village with a fishing problem,” it’s a little slice of paradise where the desert meets the Sea of Cortez about 250 miles south of Tucson. It’s also home/2nd home/Want to home to a friendly and internationally diverse community of talented artists. Not just music, but visual and technical artists. There’s a lot of love in this little community, and a generous love of art for art’s sake.

Over the years with our live shows the players and band names have changed, it got confusing. Some musicians are only here part of the year, many go on tour. The commonality was always my guitar picking songwriter husband Bobby, me (Leslie Sahlen), and shows/records produced by Mexmo. So it makes more sense our shows will be as the artist Mexmo! Our fans know that “band” includes a wonderful assortment of featured artists who might include Bliss Cochran, Rachel Souza, Peter Pope Jones, Neil Duvall, The Twins, Manuelito, Hans Gundman, and even Trop Rock award winner, Sam Rainwater, pulls out his uke when he can. Bruce Munson and his Trailer Trash Royalty have been known to grace the stage.

What you get is MexiBlues, Baja Bluegrass, Mariachi Fusion, Coconut Country and Twisted Americana.

You can catch Mexmo live in San Carlos, and “live” concert broadcasts on www.StageIt.com

All the Mexmo recorded products under a variety of artist names can be found at

www.cdbaby.com/all/mexmo

www.youtube.com/tomatah1

Leslie Sahlen - Producer

In 1977 Music Connection Magazine sent me out to interview the reclusive sixties folk rocker Spanky McFarlane for one of it's very first issues. That interview was the beginning of a long friendship and collaboration that has spanned 31 years. Spanky and Our Gang, then the Mamas and Papas, figure largely in many adventures over the years. Spanky and I co-produced and performed two music festivals in Northern California, and the 1960s Music Festival in my home town of San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. If anyone would have ever told me I would be one day be engineering and producing spanish language music acts in a beach town in Mexico, I'd say they were crazy. Toxic Titty Disease (truth, silicone makes you sick) made it impossible to continue working at any more "day jobs of the famous and poor" so my songwriter husband and I decided it was time to "retire" to cheaper living south of the border. Being musicians and songwriters ("when it's in ya, it's in ya") we brought down a simple home studio setup to record demos. Word got around, musicians started knocking on the door, and ended up a small recording studio, a Mexican corporation, and 18 CDs released on CDBaby. The company is called MexMo San Carlos S de RL de CV, named by my longtime music buddy Chris Montez. I uploaded videos of Chris and others from the 1960s Music Festival on YouTube.com/tomatah1. He was visiting us last year and suggested we start "the Mexican Motown" to nurture the cool talent we found here. My husband of 20 years, Bobby Sahlen, and I just released a CD of new songs (our first in 16 years), "Life's Much Better In Mexico." It came available for sale yesterday on CDBaby, but we did upload and "deliver" the tracks to Broadjam.com a couple weeks ago. That resulted in Film TV co-publishing contracts for 24 tracks from out catalogue including 8 of the 12 from the "Life's Better ..." CD! Yeah Team!

Chris Montez - Producer

Chris Montez was born in Los Angeles California and grew up in the town of Hawthorne. He was influenced by his Hispanic culture and the rock 'n roll success of Richie Valens. Music was an integral part of his family life and Chris began singing rancheras with his older brothers when he was a kid. They taught him to play the guitar and he sang the high parts. As he gained confidence and his voice matured, he began singing leads. His early days at Hawthorne High were spent emulating the tough "low rider" Latino image, but in his junior year, ignited by the spark of musical ambition, Chris changed his style because he had "goals to make." He formed a band and recorded his own original songs that gained the interest of Monogram Records. "All You Had To Do Was Tell Me" became a local hit. In 1962, Chris' single, "Let's Dance" hit the top 10 and he was on his way. He toured with Clyde McPhatter, Sam Cooke, The Platters and Smokey Robinson. In 1963, while in Liverpool with Tommy Roe, his opening act was a new English group, The Beatles. With 3 years on the road behind him, Chris came home in 1965 to complete his education and join a new label, A & M. Herb Alpert dropped in on one of Chris' first sessions and suggested that he try a soft ballad sound. It was a more conservative style than Chris would have preferred but Alpert's instincts were good and the hits "The More I See You," "There Will Never Be Another You," "Call Me" and "Time After Time" followed in quick succession. While the British and psychedelic rock were invading the U.S., Chris left A & M, signed with CBS International and amassed a string of hits outside the U.S. that has firmly established him as an international recording star. He has recorded songs in English and in Spanish that have become hits in Austria, Germany and Holland. Long before The Doors and The Beach Boys, there was a musical phenomenon occurring in Los Angeles' large Hispanic population that would take 30 years to be recognized. In the early 50's, rhythm and blues performed solely by black musicians took hold with Los Angeles' Chicano (Americans born of Mexican descent) residents years before it gained popularity with the teens who would credit Elvis Presley with their introduction to rock 'n roll. In the barrios of East Los Angeles, The Drifters, Clyde McPhatter, Crows and Big Jay McNeely were the music of choice in the 50's. Those solid musical roots, intermingled with traditional Mexican rancheras gained a new and fresh popularity with groups such as Los Lobos. The success of the film "La Bamba" identified those roots. Chris Montez' well-known hits and his heritage are part of the Richie Valens legacy. "I am very conscious of my culture," says Chris, who performed as Chris Montez and La Raza on tours to Japan, South America and Europe. Judging by record sales and well attended appearances in many European cities, so are they. Today, Chris Montez is just hitting his stride. Born into a bi-cultural city with a rich heritage, he emerges trim and fit, an energetic performer with a history and cultural relevance that is unique.

Christie Forester - Artist

Christie Forester was born in Ambon, Indonesia where her parents, RB and Avelone Caveness were missionaries. At twelve, she was her father's church pianist and although musically trained, seized every opportunity to create her own music ... much to her piano teachers' chagrin. After living in Singapore for many years, Christie returned to the United States where she married Walter Forester and completed her Ph.D. in Learning Disabilities. Christie currently lives in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico where she met her producer, Leslie Sahlen. REVIEW of Christie's Christmas CD! "Forester's arrangements are delicate and delightful; the melodies meander down lyrical paths, but the essence of each well-known carol never disappears. Her keyboard seems to be producing the percussive sounds of a vibraphone or similar instrument; the results shimmer with warmth. This release is consistently solid, and my favorite tracks are "Silent Night" and "Silent Night Reprise," which bookend the album and combine for over ten minutes of intensely lovely music." For the complete review go to http://www.christmasreviews.com/wchristieforester.shtml Christmas classics like you've never heard them before. Christie Forester is a unique composing and performing talent. She uses familiar melodies and weaves her own magic creating ethereal compositions that are perfect for your holiday events or just relaxing by a warm fire.

1960s Music Festival - Artists

Never before had this group of 60s icons played together, and many their first performance in Mexico. The result was a magical muscial moment that will be fondly remembered by all. Unfortunately after months of work and planning when the concert dates arrived I was sick as a dog! The local doc wanted me to go to hospital, but I told him the show must go on! Johnny Kito arrived with a nasty flu too, but mega professional that he is the music came through beautifully. I mention this because on this disc is my first released cover of a Randy Newman song (I'm a serious fan)and my voice was croaky, but has heart. Hope you like it Randy. - Leslie Sahlen, Producer Rare Performances By 1960s Music Legends for Hurricane Heroes in Mexico! SAN CARLOS, SONORA, MEXICO - More than a dozen of the top singers and musicians of the 1960s music era gathered for an unprecedented event at the Paradiso Hotel Resort, to benefit San Carlos' non profit emergency medical service, RESCATE, and CASA de la CULTURA of Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. The well known musical stars donated their talents for two Main Stage Concerts, Sunday Dec. 7 and Monday Dec. 8, 2003. On Monday, September 22, 2003, at 7:00pm, San Carlos and Guaymas was hit by the full force of Hurricane Marty causing widespread destruction of homes and businesses. The RESCATE ambulance rescue were heroes many times over. Funds from the Festival in December will replenish the emergency medical supplies seriously depleted during the hurricane.. On Saturday Dec. 6 during the festival , the PERFORMING ARTS COUNCIL of SAN CARLOS hosted "Para Los Ninos." Gifted music students at Casa de la Cultura, a non profit providing free after school music education to the children of Guaymas, enjoyed a Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar master class with featured guitarist Peter Childs (Knob Lick Upper 10,000) and a concert from Chris Montez and Eddie Ponder (Spanky and Our Gang, Flying Burrito Brothers). Students also received donated musical instruments including FIVE new guitars generously provided by Guitar Center of Tucson, Arizona. Opening the festival, Dec 5 was "Songs After Sunset," an old fashioned hoot night! Folks dusted off old guitars to join us on the beach. Bobby Sahlen held down the stage until the bus arrived from the airport with the featured performers. About 70 people stayed to enjoy spontaneous jams with Chris Montez, Ethan Edward and Peter Childs. Performing individually and in groups for the two Main Stage Concerts were: Chris Montez (Mexican American singer & songwriter) Hits include "Let's Dance," "Call Me," "The More I See You" Spanky McFarlane (Spanky and Our Gang and The Mamas and The Papas) Hits include "Lazy Day'" "Sunday Will Never Be The Same," "Like To Get To Know You" John Kito (Musical Director The Mamas and The Papas) Hits include "California Dreaming," "Dream A Little Dream of Me," "Monday Monday" Kenny Hodges (Spanky and Our Gang) Wrote Hit song "And She's Mine" Eddie Ponder (Spanky and Our Gang, Flying Burrito Bros.) Carlos Bernal (Spanky & Our Gang, Turtles, Byrds) "Turn Turn Turn," "Mr. Tambourine Man" Ethan "George Edwards" Kenning (HP Lovecraft, Manhattan Transfer) "White Ship

The Twins - Artists

The Twins/Los Giacoman/Los Cuates. The band so good they have three names! Coconut Country, Mariachi Fusion and MexiBlues, to date The Twins have 4 CDs! One of the highlights of a visit to beautiful San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico is a chance encounter with a unique musical quartet known to the locals as THE TWINS: four brothers, an uncle, a father, and two sons create a one of a kind sound. Not your father's mariachi band! A favorite memory will always be the day we first met The Twins. Leaving one of San Carlos' fine eateries, an impossibly small car pulled up and out popped four guys, two guitars , percussion, and a stand up bass! They played an extraordinary assortment of songs and we sang along in the parking lot for hours. From that point, Bobby and I were hooked. We dare you to try to keep you feet from tapping. In fact, I'll bet you get right up and dance all over the room. Their first CD was recorded live with 4 mics in my livingroom and inspired our evolution into a full recording studio and Mexican corporation. Twins II was The Twins first studio recordings and the first release by MexMo Productions of San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. MexMo is a collaboration of Leslie Sahlen of Gatorlegs Music, Tucson, and 60s hit maker, Chris Montez. We are all very proud of these unique and creative versions of well known latin songs. Being a recent ex-pat from north of the border I had not heard many of these songs prior so they were new to my producer ears. The result is a style mix of Gipsy Kings meets Harry Nilsson with a splash of Henry Mancini goes Tropical in Spanish. I tried to retain the live sound of the band while adding the studio sweetening, violin and keyboard parts. The results are very different arrangements from the familiar. The Twins bring to all their material a fusion of middle eastern, latin, gyspy, and jazz influences to create truly fresh interpretations of classic and contemporary latin hits. On The Twins first CD, we did several songs by Augie Myers (Texas Tornados) and classic rock and roll. Twins II includes unique interpretations of traditional classics and songs made popular by Juan Luis Guerra, Ricky Martin, and Juanes. Enjoy! Leslie Sahlen - Producer

Marc McClure - Artist

MARC MCCLURE McClure's record company affiliations have been:Warner Bros. "Levitt & McClure" 1969 Capital Records Artist "Joyous Noise", "Joyous Noise Wandering man Suite" & "Marc McClure Songs for Old Ladys and Babys" '70 to'72 Bullalo Gap Artist "Gas, Food & Lodging" '72 to'75 CBS (Epic) Artist "Spanky & Our Gang" 1975 to 1980 Independant Prod. Jim Mason: "Kashmire" 1984 Marc has played with and recorded with and toured with: Pat Boone Delany Bramlett Don Ellis Orchestra Bonny Raitt Joy of Cooking James Lee Stanley Dick Stabile Orchestra Peter Tork Little Feat Leo Kottke Accomplice (Mark Keller & Wendy Webb) Willy Nelson Wendy Waldman He has happily served as a vocalist, guitar, Bass, keyoard, or Steel Guitar player in genre's from Jazz, Bluegrass, Country, Rock to Gospel. Attached Images:

Michael Greer - Artist

Michael's obituaries (19??-2002)talked about TV's short lived Bobby Gentry Show and his many films as one of the very few openly gay actors in Hollywood during the 60s and 70s. Little is said about the singer, songwriter, comedian, and gonzo impressionist I and other fans of cabaret knew and loved dearly for three decades. Those lucky enough to have seen one of Michael's shows live will always remember his Mona Lisa bit. Recorded live in Los Angeles in 1979, it's Michael at his best with longtime musical director the late Ken Richardson, and the Killer Tomatahs singers Amy Barlow and, moi, Leslie (Tucker) Sahlen. The following is from GayToday.com The Legendary Michael Greer By Michael Kearns I was twenty-one years old, attending acting school in Chicago, when I first experienced his magic on the Silver Screen. To say that I was profoundly affected by Michael Greer's rendition of Queenie in Fortune and Men's Eyes would not begin to describe my response. For starters, I was scared, moved, challenged, impressed, inspired, embarrassed, and awestruck. And that was during the first ten minutes. As a gay actor, Greer set a standard for me in terms of his attack on that role, shimmering in its gutsy reality. He never stood outside the character; he let us know that a great deal of Queenie was Michael and a great deal of Michael was Queenie. Most actors (even closeted gay ones) have a tendency to separate themselves from the gay characters they play, attempting to convince the audience that it "isn't really" them. Michael delivered an Academy Award-deserving screen performance but it was also, considering the time frame, a political act of liberation. The subtext of Greer's performance was, "I'm here, I'm queer, get over it." He was in our face, honey. (It's the reason I loathe the Oscar-winning performances of William Hurt in The Kiss of The Spiderwoman and Tom Hanks in Philadelphia; they put on the gayness, like the villain in a melodrama gluing on a fake moustache. The actors are always watching themselves and winking at the audience in collusion, practically saying outloud, "We're not really This Way," For the fun of it, rent Fortune and Spiderwoman or Philadelphia. Ask yourself, Which of these performances is entirely believable? Unflinching, uncensored, and unremittingly outrageous, Greer's screen turn was dazzling in its authenticity; perhaps, to this day, one of the most vividly portrayed gay characters to hit the screen. This was 1971 when there were scant representations of gays or lesbians in any medium and certainly only a handful coming from Hollywood (The Boys In the Band was released the year prior). To say Greer's performance was landmark is no exaggeration. To say that his career was political is an understatement. To say that Greer deserved more credit than he ever received is a fact (including an unforgivably underwritten obit in the Los Angeles Times). Greer was (and I don't use these words lightly) a trailblazer, a pioneer and a hero in the nascent days of gay liberation. Fortune was not Greer's first or last triumph although it is what he will be remembered for: breathing life force into that tough, vulnerable, self-hating, self-loving, manipulative, and crass Queenie. Greer first gained notoriety at the Redwood Room (where many gay stars received their initial buzz including the legendary Charles Pierce), performing stand up comedy. The venerable activist Morris Kight remembers Greer's Mona Lisa bit, a popular routine that remained in his nightclub performances for more than thirty years. "As part of the gay and lesbian resistance," Kight says, "I made it a point to have members travel socially, delving into the gay experience. I'd heard of a comedian named Michael Greer. We went and were just enchanted." Greer would appear in a picture frame, recreating the renowned countenance of the painting, and then come to life as Mona, teasing the audience. Greer's first movie was The Gay Deceivers, a piece of fluff that established his onscreen fag-to-the-max persona but not nearly as widely seen as the mainstream Fortune film. Greer starred in a wildly controversial Los Angeles stage version of Fortune, directed by Sal Mineo and featuring Mineo and Don Johnson in an erection-inducing prison sex scene (for actors and audiences alike), that led to the film. There were several movies to follow (The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart, The Strawberry Connection), in which Greer played straight characters, a demand made by his agents. I remember him telling me that his management wanted him to get married so they could make more money off of him. "I was gay at the wrong time," he joked. And that's the truth. Because Greer refused to play the game, his film career was tragically truncated. In spite of his undisputed gifts as an actor, he could no longer exist in Hollywood because he was gay. Period. He returned to the theatre and nightclubs where he would pretty much remain for the thirty remaining years of his life. There was The Rose with Bette Midler and perhaps a few other bones thrown his way from Hollywood. But he spent most of his time on the road, playing a wide variety of venues-from seedy neighborhood gay bars to elegant concert halls. He was, indeed, a very funny comedian. We all know that funny is often camouflaging an undercurrent of pain. When I would speak to Greer about the trajectory of his career, he certainly didn't defend Hollywood but he refused to be victimized by a town that is still grappling with depictions of homosexuality. Although he did not seem bitter, Greer did seem driven to succeed on his own terms. And, to a large part, although not a household name, he did. He was a mainstay on the gay and lesbian nightclub circuit for three decades and he also appeared in several theatre works. I remember seeing him in Mark Savage's The Ballad of Little Mikey at Highways. Greer was one of those people who wanted to be able to sing but couldn't. He had a rather long solo to "sing" and he was out of his element but mesmerizing. Part Rex Harrison and part Elaine Stritch, the stalwart performer sold the song in a gravelly recitative. He acted it with all his heart, mightily. I first met Greer at the Ivar Theatre in Hollywood where I was appearing in the West Coast premiere of The Dirtiest Show In Town. Greer was a celebrity guest and, after seeing the show, he invited the entire cast to his home in the Hollywood Hills for a party. I wouldn't have been happier if it had been Lucy's house. In a poetic scenario, the Ivar Theatre is the last place I spent time with Greer. It's so odd that, over thirty years, we crossed paths dozens of times but our initial and final meetings were at the Ivar. About a year ago, we both appeared in a one-nighter, Endangered Species, a short play that was basically a series of monologues. It was the first time we'd actually appeared together on the same stage on the same night. But Greer had big plans for our theatrical teaming. He was adamant that we should do Jimmy Kirkwood's play, Legends, playing the roles originated by Carol Channing and Mary Martin. He promised to send me a script. "Which one is older?" I teased. "Darling," he said, in a Tallulah rasp, "I may be playing the older one but in the billing, just remember that 'G' comes before 'K'" He left me laughing.. I cried when I heard the news of Greer's passing of lung cancer on September 14. I knew he was a heavy smoker and assumed that trying to convince him to stop would be like his agents trying to get him married. But I still didn't want to believe that yet another strong influence in my life was gone. A peer, a friend. My soul sister, honey. Michael Greer was an original Keep in mind, this is not an actor who came out after his series was a hit; this is an actor who couldn't get a series because he came out. Without him, there would be no Harvey Fierstein or Sean Hayes; there would be no Queer As Folk; there would be no openly gay actors. His bravery was uncommon. His allegiance to the community was simply astonishing. His determination to be himself was inspiring. Attention must be paid to his death. A teary Kight says, "Michael was a forthright artist. He was so personable. He was a lovely man and I miss him desperately."

Spanky McFarlane - Artist

NEWS! Hip-O Select/Universal (www.hipposelect.com) just released a 4 disc BOX SET Spanky and Our Gang The Complete Mercury Recordings!!! AND on 20th Century Masters Series, widely available, Spanky and Our Gang The Millineum Collection. Spanky "Elaine" McFarlane is lead singer of 60s folk rock hit makers Spanky and Our Gang. The act had many hits and a tremendous impact on music history despite the relatively short time the band was together. They were the first act to successfully meld sketch comedy and music for the television medium appearing on all the popular variety shows of the day. Their memorable segments ("Sunday Will Never Be The Same," "Lazy Day," "Like To Get To Know You," "Sunday Morning," "Give A Damn," "Leopard Skin Phones") can be found on video compilations of the Ed Sullivan, Hollywood Palace, Johnny Carson's Tonight, and Smothers Brothers shows. In 1968, with Director John Urie, Spanky and Our Gang filmed one of the very first music videos! The 14-minute film was intended for television "appearances" but was never released due to the untimely deaths of Gangers Malcolm Hale and Lefty Baker. In the mid 70's, Spanky and Our Gang was reincarnated as a "country" band with the Gang's trademark harmonies. They released one record on Epic, what many fans consider their best album, "Change." Unfortunately, this title has yet to be released on CD. When Mamas and Papas founder, John Phillips, decided to tour again with co-founder Denny Doherty and his daughter actress Mackenzie Phillips, Spanky was his first choice for singing Cass Elliot's parts. For over a decade Spanky toured the world with various lineups of Mamas and Papas. In 2003 Spanky, with co-producers Bobby & Leslie Sahlen, put together a Limited Edition CD compilation of unreleased live and demo goodies from several groups Spanky has shared the stage with since the early 1960s. There are three awesome cuts from the "Change" album era, a couple from The New Wine Singers, and a 5 song set with Little Brother Montgomery at Chicago's legendary Mother Blue's nightclub. Also included is a 1999 recording of "I Love How You Love Me" with friend and accompanist of 40+ years, Guy Guilbert. Spanky and Our Gang, (original and latest "Gangers") can be seen on the PBS American Soundtrack Series "This Land Is Our Land: The Folk Rock Years 2" premiering nationally December 2003.