Mexicali Blues: Shakedown Street to Bangkok

Mexicali Blues: Shakedown Street to Bangkok

Mar 14, 2023

(Kim, Caleb, Carly, Chauncey, & Pete outside of their Bungalow in Kho Samui, Thailand)

 

“Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right”

  

Shakedown Street had arrived on Moulton Street in Portland. Suddenly, Mexicali Blues was selling masks from Indonesia, singing bowls from Nepal, tie dye from Thailand, and all kinds of groovy goods from all over Asia. The floodgates had opened, and more and more people were flowing into the Portland store, selling their stuff, trading tapes, tuning in, and vibing out. Mexicali started sponsoring concerts and festivals all over the state and became further entwined with the free-spirited counterculture inspired by the Grateful Dead.


Pete remembers sponsoring the Samples to play at the State Theater on April 14, 1994, and there was another band opening up for them, “They were charging $500, and I thought that was way too much. Five months later, they released “Under the Table and Dreaming.” Next thing you know, that opening band (which turned out to be the Dave Matthews Band) started selling out stadiums all over the US.” That concert marked their son Chauncey’s second birthday, and two years later, his sister Carly was born. 

 

Dave Matthews Band Jorma Concert Posters from 1990s Sponsored by Mexicali Blues
(Tickets and posters from some of the late 80’s and early 90’s Mexicali shows)

The Erskine's were always the life of the party and their house was always an eclectic stew of strangers helping strangers, kind of like Mexicali Blues. According to Kim, everyone called her husband “Bring Them Home Pete.” There were always a few people staying on their couch, in their kitchen, or in their driveway. “There was this young family traveling through Maine that stayed in the bed of their truck in our driveway. We spent a few days together, and then they were off to Asia,” remembers Kim. “With their little blonde kids,” Pete added, “Which gave us an idea…” 


“Pete’s dad had gotten a Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Bangkok and I said “there's no better time than now.” Obviously, Pete didn’t need much persuading so next thing you know, the Erskine family was off to Thailand with two little toe heads in tow. “We packed one backpack full of diapers, another full of clothes, and a stroller. Next stop: Bangkok.” 

 

Young Hippie Family on the beach in Thailand in the 1990s
(Pete with Carly and Chauncey checking out waves in Thailand, Photo: Kim)

To the outsider, the idea of traveling halfway across the world to a new country for the first time with a toothless infant and a three-year-old might seem crazy, and to be honest, they might be right… “And we did that every year for one month. First with Chauncey and Carly, then with Caleb.” They started with Thailand, then started exploring Indonesia, India, and Nepal. Once they were a little older, their small community school allowed the kids to take a month off at a time and do their schoolwork abroad. 

 

(Carly, Chauncey, & Caleb doing homework while waiting for a ferry in Thailand)


Whereas it all started with Shakedown Street, now the magic happens on crazy Khao San Road in Bangkok, in the bustling markets of New Delhi, high in the Himalayas in Kathmandu, and across the islands of Indonesia. 30 years later Kim and Pete still travel to these countries every year and, you guessed it, their kids, now adults, come too (when they can). Nothing like a good old family tradition!



(Pete and Chauncey in Bangkok, Thailand)


Tune in next week to hear about it all from Chauncey’s perspective, and thanks for following along ✌️


35 years in the making…

or
for now... ✌️,❤️, and Mexicali

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