Cabo, Mexico might seem like an unusual place to find an alternative country singer and his band playing an exclusive, free rooftop concert, but that’s exactly what brought me to the Hotel El Ganzo in San José del Cabo. This trip defied tired expectations about the Cabo you know — which is fitting. Rayland Baxter is not a country singer in the traditional sense and neither is El Ganz. The boutique hotel, which opened just five years ago, is located off the beaten tourist track of Cabo San Lucas and was designed for environmental sustainability with a focus on arts and entertainment. How focused? well, the hotel features a basement recording studio called the Underground, which is its prime lure for the musicians it books for a monthly residency program.
Artists seeking isolation or inspiration are able to come to El Ganzo, stay for a complimentary week while utilizing the studio (among other luxurious amenities), and in return, for the final evening of their stay the musician will perform a free show on a small stage on the hotel’s rooftop, situated just next to the swimming pool and its accompanying bar.
Before his show this past October, a small group of fellow journalists and I wre able to interview Baxter about his creative process, next to the pool and the stage where he’d later perform. What I found while speaking with him is that Baxter is as unconventional as the hotel where I’ve come to see him; he’s just finished recording his third album in Santa Monica, California, and says he’s been using his stay “sitting on my balcony, smoking cigarettes, and listening to the mixes.”
There is an air of old-school American romanticism about him, evidenced by his revelation that he’s been living out of a van while preparing for the release of his next album, and his admission that he’s been wearing the same shirt for three weeks straight. He’s got a quirky sense of humor, joking that he sustains himself between recording sessions and performances by working “online nude chat rooms.”