Charlie Higgins & Sunset Station is a group of talented musicians specializing in roots rock 'n' roll with vintage country, folk, and blues influences playing the classic hits and well as their originals. Sunset Station provides fabulous local entertainment in Sayulita as well as top-notch wedding and private event services. Driven by a passion for live music, Charlie Higgins & Sunset Station approach every show, wedding, or event with one goal in mind: to create a memorable, magical experience for everyone involved.
Their ever-evolving song list includes familiar classics and hidden gems by artists such as Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, and so much more.
I had the opportunity for an interview with Charlie Higgins, the lead singer and guitarist, to learn more about their background, growing project and businesses in Sayulita, and their love for music.
- Can you tell me a little about yourself and the group and your background in music?
I’ve played music for most of my life and began performing while I was in middle school. I grew up in a somewhat musical household—mom played piano, brother played guitar—and was exposed to all the classics growing up. My parents were huge fans of Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band, etc. I started out in this vein and soon moved on to playing jazz in high school, which eventually led to me studying music at Oberlin Conservatory. I got a lot a little burnt out on that scene and decided to do some traveling in South America, eventually settling in Buenos Aires for the next 9 years. I delved heavily into Brazilian and Argentine music, playing with a number of different bands in those genres, but eventually found myself coming back full circle to the American folk/rock/blues leanings of my youth. I met my partner Ximena during my last year in Argentina and she convinced me to move with her to this part of Mexico where she grew up. After a year of “settling in” musically and personally, I and two other like-minded musicians started Sunset Station and began performing mostly in Sayulita.
- How has your group progressed in Sayulita?
With the support of the local ex-pat community and some great local venues, we’ve developed a loyal following that comes out to see us perform every week. We are now in our second high season as a group. Originally we played exclusively covers but in the last year (basically, since I found out I was going to be a dad!) I’ve been inspired to write original songs like Tale of a Lost Gringo, which is a satire about an American who migrates here expecting the Mexican beach life to solve all of his problems but ends up spiraling out of control. We are about to release that song and its accompanying music video (filmed on location around Sayulita and at Frente al Punto), followed by an EP of all original music we recorded in Guadalajara earlier this year. In order to fund these endeavors (and because it’s so much fun!), we started playing weddings and private events in and around Sayulita, mostly for Americans and Canadians.
- What do you love about playing music?
Where do I begin? There’s just so much. It really is a universal language that brings people together in often unexpected ways. Over the years I’ve come to view performing less about myself and showing what I can do and more about the audience and how I can communicate with them and lift their spirits. For me there is no other experience more gratifying than practicing a new song all week in my studio, performing it with a full band for a live audience, and seeing the joy and the thrill that it transmits to them. Or maybe it’s performing a beloved cover like Wagon Wheel and watching a generation-spanning crowd of people singing along arm in arm, or forming a breakdancing circle while we perform Ring of Fire. It may sound silly but that stuff has become so magical and sacred to me. It brings me to a place spiritually and personally that no religion or other similar outlet has been able to, and I feel so fortunate to be at the center of those moments and share them with both friends/family and complete strangers.
- What inspired you to start your business here in Sayulita? What are your favorite aspects of Sayulita?
Sayulita just has this laid-back, bohemian California vibe that people love, and it’s the perfect setting for our music. There are so many artists and musicians of all types living here or passing through, from around the world, especially for such a small town. It also happens to be an amazing place to hold a special event like a wedding, and there’s great demand for good live music to help people celebrate.
- What can guests expect in the experience, and what does your business offer that separates it from the rest?
I take performing at weddings and events very seriously. The last thing I want is for our clients to feel like we were just “going through the motions”. So I spend a lot of time crafting each setlist, thinking of special surprises, talking to the clients, and trying to understand their vibe so that when the big day arrives they feel like they already know me and have a kind of super-fan relationship with the band even before we play. It’s so easy for people to be like “let’s just hire a DJ to play songs people know and it will be cheaper anyway” (not necessarily cheaper, by the way!), so I do everything I can to ensure them that there is just something that a live band offers—the spontaneity, the personal touch, the vulnerability—that a DJ or a playlist cannot. I think this is something we all became acutely aware of during the pandemic when live music pretty much became impossible. But now it’s back and people appreciate it more than ever.
- Can you share a memorable happy client story?
There are so many. Last season we performed on a Sunday at Frente al Punto and after the show, a couple came up to us and asked us to play their wedding welcome party that Thursday because they loved our music so much. It was pretty last minute but we put it together and they absolutely loved it. The show ended with 50 plus people doing the conga line around Frente al Punto to our song Tale of a Lost Gringo, and they said it was the highlight of their week. Recently we played a wedding where the clients were so happy with our performance that they gave us a very generous 60% tip!
- Any other information you would like to add?
Be on the lookout for our music video for Tale of a Lost Gringo and our first EP Gringo. You can find us on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Just search for “Charlie Higgins & Sunset Station”.
Would you like to hear Charlie Higgins & Sunset Station live? They perform every Sunday at the beautiful beachside venue in Sayulita, Frente al Punto, where parents, kids, and dogs gather to listen to the band amidst the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean at sunset. Visit their page to learn more about Charlie Higgins and Sunset Station or for your private event.
Written and Edited by Amy Rose Pearson