WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
When you’re a kid growing up and get told not to do something, what do you do? Exactly. Let’s go back to the Fall of 2000. The newly formed Peacemakers have been asking their out of state management to play Rocky Point, Mexico for several months.
Responses were the same. “Why?” “Is it safe?” “You’re kidding, right?” “No, you’re not going.”
Like any kid, they did it anyway.
Initially, efforts were made just to find a place to play rather than start a festival. The roof top patio at the Sunset Cantina (it’s now Skully’z located across from the Peñasco del Sol Hotel) seemed the best place to make it happen. On October 28, 2000, about a hundred showed up and listened to Honky Tonk Union, Refreshments songs from both records and a couple covers. Just like that, Circus Mexicus was born.
A larger spot was needed for next time and the location jumped over to the newly finished Baja Cantina on the Miramar beach side of Whale Hill. This show would almost not happen due to the 9/11 attacks upon the United States, but Roger chose to honor the gig and not allow those who would curtail freedom with fear to stop him from his plans. As the concert kept growing, the location did as well. May 25, 2002 brought what was to become more of a festival atmosphere with an outdoor concert in a dirt lot just south of the sunset cantina over Memorial Day Weekend.
A massive crowd showed up, the entire town ran out of beer but fun was rampant. The Fall and Spring concerts continued for multiple years with ever-growing crowds and a new name thought up by PH Naffah, Circus Mexicus! However, hurricane warnings (and one rain soaked show) in the Fall, were making that season more difficult to continue with outside concerts. Meanwhile, beautiful new accommodations were getting built at Sandy Beach and it was clear the Spring would be a better time to focus and grow the event without the threat of bad weather.
June 6, 2009 marked the first Circus Mexicus at Sandy Beach located behind the Sonoran Spa Resort.
Demand for more rock n roll was obvious and what was a one night concert evolved into a multiple day event with several bands sharing the stage. The inaugural January Jam at JJ’s Cantina was an unexpected success and quickly became the second Mexico date on the calendar for RCPM.
Inspired by the kids living at a local children’s home, PH Naffah launched Hot Dog and a Smile where he personally grilled hundreds of hot dogs for fans in exchange for donations to the children’s home. It was the beginning of multiple charity initiatives at both January Jam and Circus Mexicus that has raised tens of thousands of dollars to date for various charities throughout Puerto Peñasco.
As the U.S. economy rebounded and fans sought post-recession solace with the organic vibe created at Circus Mexicus, the event began to expand to smaller venues like Banditos, JJ’s and Wrecked at The Reef among others giving music lovers options day and night.
Fans fought through swine-flu threats and the inconvenience of newly instituted Passport requirements at the border to re-enter the United States. To amplify the fun, Roger Clyne created a beach soccer tournament giving fans an option to exercise with bands playing on the beach while collecting sporting goods benefitting a local sports foundation for kids.
Today, about 80% of the attendance come from Arizona while the remainder of ticket buyers come from 30+ other states and countries. Oregon, Minnesota and Colorado are especially represented well with a growing number of Mexican Nationals from Sonora now enjoying a four day festival throughout Puerto Peñasco featuring other genres including reggae, Latino folk, country and punk.
The invitation to join us in January and June is always open.
Pace yourselves and we’ll see you at the beach.