Mexico Music Adventure: Strings and Sol 2016

by Jan 6, 2017Adventure, Culture, Music, Reviews

This review of Strings and Sol may seem long overdue.  Although, by this point, I am sure most of you have read quite enough about it to know you are definitely not going to miss it in 2017.  If you weren’t there, you are probably saying “Enough already.  Stop sharing all of these epic moments and talking about how it is the greatest festival ever.”  If you were there, you are probably saying “Please, share more epic moments.  How did I miss some of these while I was there?”  Seriously, every single moment is so incredible, you can’t possibly see them all – but I’m sure as heck trying again next year. 

Here’s the bottom line:  Strings and Sol is much more than just a music festival.  It embraces all of the elements that we feel makes a festival complete:  the music, the culture and the adventure.  Strings and Sol is an experience, and it makes your entire self glow with excitement thinking about how you can make it happen exactly the same (or even better, if that’s possible) the next year.  

Strings and Sol 2016: The Music, The Culture, The Adventure!

The Music

Wow.  I mean, it’s not like we go for the weather, beaches, open bar, endless buffet and amazing service night and day.  No, we can get all that in an assisted living facility in Florida.  The amazing lineup of incredible musicians is what brings us back to Strings and Sol again and again.

I’d love to give you a play-by-play of every set, every song, every amazing sit-in.  I’d love to, but I was on vacation.  I saw it all (mostly!), but remembering it enough to articulate it is another story.  Luckily, the wonderful folks at The Lot Scene have, incredibly, captured it all.  (Seriously guys, how do you do that?!).  Check out the Lot Scene’s reviews.

I can attempt to share some highlights, but I can’t think of a moment that wasn’t a highlight! 

There was Ali Krall busting out the opening licks of “Crazy Train” while Ben Kaufman was taking requests from the crowd.  We will never forget Danny Barnes taking the lead on “Eat My Dust” after Jake Joliff’s amazing intro during one of Yonder Mountain’s killer sets.  (Danny seemed to say with his banjo, “Fast?  I’ll show you fast, kid!”) 

Leftover Salmon kicked off their Sunday sunset show with “Get No Better,”  and we all knew how blessed we were!  Then there was Larry Keel’s late night set in the Palapa.  I’m not sure any of us really know what happened, but it happened. 

Drew Emmitt sat in with Greensky Bluegrass and completely destroyed the electric guitar while burning up the stage on “Kerosene.”  Speaking of Greensky, their poolside set will always be remembered for Andrew Lincoln’s killer vocals on “Feelin’ Allright”, Hoffman’s cannonball into the pool, and Anders’ and Bruzza’s impressive water ballet. 

And there was everything in between!  Railroad Earth’s beautiful sunset performance, Keller’s Grateful Grass closing out the party, Infamous Stringdusters blowing minds at every turn, Nicki Bluhm and Sockeye getting funky, Bartronica getting weird, and everyone, and I mean everyone, playing “Tequila” every chance they could!  (We think Anders Beck might have even tried to take it from “Tequila” to “Teqweezer” during Yonder’s closing set!)

Yup, the music. 

You won’t find a better collection of greater talent on any other beach in Mexico, that’s for sure! 

Strings and Sol 2016: Greensky Bluegrass Main Stage Set
Strings_and_Sol_2016: Yonder Mountain String Band Gazebo Set
Strings_and_Sol_2016: Larry Keel Late Night Set

The Culture

Strings and Sol’s culture was initiated by the people who devised this crazy festival (Cloud9), but it was fully developed by the people who attend year after year.

We MAKE the party! 

The people that come to Strings & Sol are professionals.  Not boring, sit-behind-your-desk professionals that just take this weekend off to go crazy.  (Well, actually, I believe some of you guys do have a secret suit-and-tie life –  but you all show your true festival professionalism as soon as your plane touches down in Cancun!)  Those who attend aren’t rookies.  Everyone brings their A-game, then everyone strives to bring their A+ game the following year. 

When you put together that many amazing people, it shows.  And over the years, it grows.

It’s a culture of giving and sharing. It’s a culture of friendships, built upon the belief that there are no strangers. It’s a culture of passion – for the music, for the experiences, for the relationships.

You create your buttons, stickers and koozies to give away.  You pack your sparkle pants, sequined bikinis and shiny shirts to wear day and night. You plan the group photos, the monkey weddings and the sunrise shenanigans.

You all make us come back year after year, because you create the culture of Strings & Sol.

Strings_and_Sol_2016: Floaties in the Pool
Strings_and_Sol_2016: Cocktails in Pool
Strings_and_Sol_2016: Smiles at Sunset
Strings_and_Sol_2016: Vince Herman Poolside Rodeo
Strings_and_Sol_2016: Main Stage Beverage Service
Strings and Sol 2016: Ocean View for Sunset Set

The Adventure

This was our third year at Strings & Sol, and certainly not our last. 

Our first year was simply incredible.  We were blown away by the intensity of the entire weekend.  I mean, seriously, a music festival at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico?!?  This just takes festivals to a whole ‘nother level. 

Our second year, we wanted to make the trip last even longer.  We added an extra week onto our trip post-festival – booking four nights in Tulum followed by three nights on Isla Mujeres.  We couldn’t have planned it better.  The last (extra) night of the festival, we met new friends who were headed to Tulum as well.  The festival continued – we sparkled in our Sprinter van as we drank to-go margaritas en route to Tulum.  Over the next few days, we drank Mezcal and danced in the streets.  We swam in cenotes and hiked through the ruins.  We made memories and friends for life. Then, on Isla Mujeres, we were blessed with the opportunity to relax and recuperate on a beautiful island before we headed back to the States.

How could we top that this year?  Not only did we have the best festival week ever, but we had an amazing week of vacation on top of it all!  Why would we want to top it? 

Well, we spend a lot of money to go to Strings & Sol – wouldn’t it be great if we could just extend that trip and spread out those costs a little bit?  Plus, this would be the third time we were at the Yucatán, and we’ve only seen the resort and two other small towns.  Isn’t there so much more to explore? 

And, let’s not forget the best reasons –

  1. Mexico is inexpensive. 
  2. Mexicans love tacos. 
  3. Mexicans serve the best margaritas.  (and Mezcal-ritas!)
  4. They have amazing hot sauce.

So, for our third year, we went all out.  We flew in four nights before the festival, and stayed an extra 15 days.  That’s right – a sweet 3.5 weeks in Mexico.  Strings & Sol 2016 was the best S&S to date, IMO.  More music, more activities, more friends – and more adventures!  

We walked mile-long sandbars in Isla Holbox, and drank $5 Mezcal cocktails watching the sunset from a rooftop bar. We went on a sunset boat ride with our friends, and snorkeled in the crystal-clear lake at Bacalar. We explored the roads of Isla Mujeres on a golf cart, and explored the coast on a standup paddleboard. We jumped into three different cenotes in Valladolid before lunch on Christmas Eve. We drove through an ecological park filled with flamingos and hot pink waters in Riá Lagartos.  We traveled around the Yucatán in shuttle vans, cabs, ferries, catamarans, golf carts and our rental car. We ate lots of pescado entero, drank lots of cervezas, and spoke lots of terrible Spanish…all while harnessing the energy and magic that is Strings & Sol.

So, what now?

Three weeks in Mexico may be a bit of a stretch for some of you.  Heck, maybe Strings & Sol is just not in your budget right now.  That’s okay – because there are so many opportunities to enhance whatever festival you choose this year.  For those of us who dedicate our time off and our savings accounts to seeing live music in different parts of the country (or other countries), we have the chance to take it a step further.  Seek out the adventures in your festival experiences, and you will find the festival becomes so much more.  Make this year the year you embrace it all – the music, the culture and the adventure.


If you like the idea of having more adventures with your music festivals, let us know!  If you need advice or guidance, just ask.  Festy GoNuts is more than just a website – it’s your ultimate RESOURCE for making the most of your festival experience…every part of it.  Remember:  Don’t just go.  Go Nuts!

Fresh Pineapple Sunsets
Festy Friends in Bacalar
Relaxing in the Lake at Bacalar
Sunset Catamaran in Bacalar
Isla Mujeres: Hammock Time
Golf Carting Around Isla Mujeres
Cervezas Grandes on Isla Mujeres
Sunset in Rio Lagartos
Swingin in Rio Lagartos
Neil with the Pink Waters at Las Coloradas
Christmas Time with Neil
Flamingos near El Cuyo