The nation of Mexico has had a significant influence on American culture with its tourist-ready scenery, food, actors, singers, and music, just to name a few.
Mexico’s most valuable musical contribution is mariachi. Emerging from the beautiful southern state of Jalisco, mariachi originated in the 18th century in Cocula. Interestingly enough, rumor has it that the term “mariachi” originated from the French word mariage, which means wedding or marriage.
Nowadays, mariachi is heard all over the world, though most predominantly in Latin America. The genre has evolved so much that big time singers such as Luis Miguel, Juan Gabriel and Linda Ronstadt have performed accompanied with mariachi.
The universally renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán proudly carries on the tradition. Founded in 1897 by Don Gaspar Vargas, Manuel Mendoza and two violinists in Tecalitlán, Jalisco, Mariachi Vargas rapidly gained popularity throughout Mexico.
They parlayed their musical success into group roles in more than 200 movies, not to mention their extensive album catalog that even includes waltz and polka. With a combination of experienced and young members, Mariachi Vargas has achieved significant success that can be attributed to their passion, organizational structure and chemistry as a group.
“My parents loved mariachi music,” Mariachi Vargas member Andres Gonzalez declares to Campus Circle. “My father and grandfathers were mariachi musicians, so I grew up loving this music.”
Could we say traditions? Yes, of course. Gonzalez, who is 30, is a descendant of this multi-generational musical tradition. And he plans to continue the tradition in the time to come.
“I want to continue playing as long as possible and help youth continue this style,” Gonzalez, who sings and plays the violin, says of his personal and professional goals and projects.
Regardless of the traditions involved with this genre, we cannot discount the relationships of the group members that have attributed to their ongoing ventures. “It is a relationship among us, built on support and friendship,” Gonzalez explains. “It is a lot of fun.”
Now with a worldwide audience, Mariachi Vargas sports three trumpets, one harp, one vihuela, guitar, guitarrón, guitara and five violins. Their immense song catalog includes crowd favorites like “La Culebra (The Snake),” “El Mariachi Loco (The Crazy Mariachi),” “Guadalajara,” and “El Pastor (The Pastor),” among many others.
“I have a lot of satisfaction in being a part of Mariachi Vargas,” Gonzalez states when asked about his emotions before going live on the stage. “I get nervous, but I am happy to bring this music to the public.”
To feel a joy for this particular style in the industry, you only have to be an avid lover of music. It does not matter if you are Latino or are fluent in the language; understanding the lyrics in Spanish is a plus, but not required to enjoy mariachi.
“We look forward to seeing everyone in Anaheim,” Gonzalez finalizes. “The crowd can expect the best mariachi music ever, including new songs and favorites, with a lot of energy and maybe a surprise.”
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán performs Feb. 11 at The City National Grove of Anaheim. For more information, visit mariachi-vargas.com.