After the difficult pandemic stage, Merida’s Fundación Mezcalería reinvents itself with a cycle of tributes performed by great musicians; starting with Amy Winehouse. Under the direction of Ricardo Ragués -pianist of La Negrita- the group Rag The Soul made the audience sing the most iconic hits of the British singer.
“It was a custom job. Searching for musicians who could perform Amy Winehouse’s repertoire; it is a tribute to her with local talents who have rehearsed for quite some time, it has not been an easy task, taking into account the talent of Amy Winehouse”, explained Erik Samson, partner of La Mezcalería.
This tribute is the beginning of a series of concerts and a way of working, since the forum is in a process of professionalizing the rehearsals prior to the presentations, so that “the musicians do not rest on their laurels, Samson said”.
The repertoires are always the same, to the point of ease; a selection of 100 to 150 songs of tropical music that, although most people like it, we decided that it was vital to take different directions.
“This is the first of several projects. Next week we are going to have a tribute to too, it is a job that we had thought about since before the pandemic, but everything was put on pause, and now we will do it, ”he celebrated.
Similarly, the businessman confirmed that La Mezcalería will have a new band made up of a very diverse group of musicians, all with great talent, who work based on scores, their own arrangements, and unique repertoires.
“Now we have to think about how the work of our musicians can be spread. I imagine that now it will be purely digital, through broadcast platforms; or maybe on some on USB”, he stated.
The last week of June, he noted, will mark a decade of existence for the Fundación Mezcalería. Erick Samson took the opportunity to thank the people of Merida for its good response, which has allowed them to support a large number of artists.
“That has also allowed us to win the hearts of the public, which has been faithful. We were very scared when changing locations; in July 2021, since for eight years we were on Calle 56, downtown Merida, ”he recalled.
This transition generated vertigo among his collaborators because they did not know if it was really going to work. However, things are going well.
“We have more space and, therefore, greater possibilities to ensure the safety of the attendees; and of the artists. We also have a more comfortable stage to work on the issue of sound and we are two steps away from the Plaza Grande”.
In this vein, Samson considered that the commitment to a new location has been worth it after “being about to die” due to the restrictions that the Covid-19 pandemic brought with it.
“For many entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry and the business of creating social links, this stage was very complicated. Not just for us; but for cinemas, concert producers, and event organizers. Everything that has to do with social life, ”he lamented.
The government, he said, did what it could with scant resources. However, he considered, there was also a good side because the contingency brought out the solidarity of the people; and where appropriate, ties with collaborators were strengthened.
“I think the hardest part was the uncertainty, which lasted several months. Also, open and close again; those waves, that roller coaster was very hard not only economically, but also psychologically”, he emphasized.
According to Erik’s statements, his job is to make people smile, therefore, if one is not in good emotional condition, it will be very difficult to “be the locomotive” to achieve that.
Between La Negrita, Fundación Mezcalería, and Casa Chica, they add up to more than 100 collaborators, not including some 40 or 50 people who work sporadically and a vast network of suppliers that were affected by the pandemic.
The sun shines on everyone
In these 10 years, Erik Samson has witnessed the growth of the city of Mérida, both in terms of extension and the changes that the center has undergone. At first, he reminded himself, La Mezcalería was merely an alternative place; and back then there were few such options.
“Today Mérida is home to many bars, many restaurants; supply has grown quite a bit. It seems very good to me, the sun shines for everyone and everyone must strive to have their own identity and leave their mark, ”he said.
That, he said, is the reason why the businesses he runs stand out, because behind them there is true craftsmanship by people who like and are passionate about their work. That, he maintained, is felt by the people who come to have fun.
“That has also meant that Mérida has ceased to be a transit city. From our work we also contribute so that the average stay of tourists rises and they stay to enjoy a concert; or have a good day at La Negrita, for example”.
Erik Samson said that the hoteliers and restaurateurs who have seen Mérida grow should not be opposed. There have been many changes and differences, being a mixed city, he continued; and there are also people who have complained about the noise.
Regarding the issue of noise, the businessman stressed that it is a delicate one in which one cannot -nor should- polarize society. He himself, he reminded himself, is a resident of the Historic Center and knows that it is a complex situation.
“More than having regulations and restrictive laws, businessmen must self-regulate; and the citizens who decide to live in the area must also understand that it is a mixed area: we must all make an effort”, he stressed.
As an example, Samson explained that in La Negrita live music is presented from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., despite having permission until midnight. This, he said, because they know that it can be annoying for the residents of the area.
“It is not about turning off all the music, but it is about respecting certain schedules. The same in La Mezcalería, we do not go past 12 midnight, despite the fact that we could continue until 3 in the morning, ”he clarified.
Erik Samson announced that good things are coming for La Mecalería: new musical projects and very special guests to celebrate the decade of La Mezcalería, “we are going to throw the house out the window,” he warned.
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