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I wonder how many of them actually knew the statute of the southern town of Tecalitlán, located in the Mexican state of Jalisco, two hours drive south of Guadalajara, which in indigenous language means “land of stone houses.”
Mariachi Festival 2007
A story based on facts
By David Alberto Muñoz
I went into the America West Arena, although I know it is suppose to be call the Air Ways Center or something like that. They changed the name some years ago.
“Who are they?”
I guess the business people that at least in Arizona are always changing everything. The baseball park for example, it used to be the Bank One Ballpark, now I think it is Chase Field Park, I guess those people working for Chase Filed are making a lot of money. They don’t care what they do to people’s mind. It is all about the money for them.
The guy in the parking lot told me:
“Why is a white guy coming down to a mariachi festival?”
“I didn’t know you got to be certain color to be in a mariachi.”
“Are you bilingual?”
“No, but I am the director of Mariachi Una voz.” I said with pride.
As we signed in we were only the second mariachi group in the entire arena. Two years ago we were also invited and we still remember hundreds of people walking into the place for rehearsal, young dancers, ballets folclóricos, and of course mariachi groups.
You could smell tequila in the air.
The language spoken was a contemporary interpretation reflecting the new identity found by the Mexican-America, the Chicano, the Latino, Hispanic, the Mexican, the immigrant, including some Central Americans as well as Anglo Saxons that have discovered in the complexities of mariachi music a sense full of joy and melodrama, a lot of drinking and yelling, and a lot of passion sometimes unconcern.
We moved through security to the best of our ability. For Christ’s sake, one of these kids that still go to elementary school can be a terrorist and blow the entire arena! The American culture is so paranoid; we believe our neighbor can turned out to be a terrorist, that way we can be in the news saying:
“He looked just like a regular guy and he always said hi to me.”
You could see in the eyes of the members of Una voz the amazement, a great amount of curiosity, and the excitement provided by the opportunity not only to see, but to play next to the best mariachi in the world, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. I wonder how many of them actually knew the statute of the southern town of Tecalitlán, located in the Mexican state of Jalisco, two hours drive south of Guadalajara, which in indigenous language means “land of stone houses.”
All of the sudden a white van appeared, it was them, the best mariachi in the world, their jackets had printed in the back their name; the eyes of the kids were glued to those individuals that came in a very relax way shaking hands with us, and making comments about our moños and horses placed next to our pants and skirts, while saying:
“¡Felicidades, muchachos, felicidades!”
We went through a full rehearsal. Mariachi Sol de México was also present. They together with Vargas played for all the invited groups almost a private show while the employees of the arena continue making the place ready for that night in which by the way Christian Castro had threatened to be present. Let’s talk about him later on.
Everybody was happy. The kids without being able to avoid their condition of youth ran and played making the teachers crazy. That is what they are supposed to do right? They formed their groups according to their own taste. We ate hot dogs, nachos and a coke conveniently price at 5:00 dollars each, and then, we prepared to play at the entrance of the arena.
A lot of people began to enter that cathedral of entertainment that for one night dressed herself in Mexican attire. There were four different mariachis groups located around the arena to give just a taste of what would be coming up.
We played De colores, ¡Viva México!, Cariño, La Bamba, Cielito lindo, as the music began to warm up the place, that youth had a commanding attitude that made this group of kids from different elementary schools coming from the District of Glendale, made a lot of individuals stopped and listen to them. Sometimes they would go around and come back bringing their families to see a mariachi directed by a gringo, with members of different ethic groups united by a love of music and a desire to allow the musical potential of many of them develop to their full potential.
After finishing and having the press take their picture we went and sat to enjoy the show. El Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán went on stage. They began to play hypnotizing all of us with the music of el pueblo, un pueblo raised among nopales and maíz, between polkas and classical music. The trumpets sounded loud and clear, the violins cry in the midst of anguish, the guitars caressed the hearts of the audience while the harp commanded respect in the midst of a couple thousands of spectators who wanted to let out a moment of existence, expressing a need to make certain this culture know they are present and they are not going to go away.
After the last song the entire audience gave Vargas de Tecalitlán a standing ovation. Everybody was yelling:
“¡Otra, Otra, Otra…!”
And then, Speedy Gonzales CAME to the stage. Christian Castro dressed in a white mariachi suit with a hat that seemed to be too big for him.
“Who is that guy Mr. Donald?” One of the kids asked me.
“He is a singer from Mexico” I answered.
Meanwhile, Castro was dancing with a sense of femininity that made some guys wonder. All said with a great deal of respect. The guy doesn’t have a bad voice, but I have to be honest, he doesn’t wear the suit well. He sang for about 25 minutes and left with an attitude because when he asked the people to sing nobody move one single lip.
The night ended at the entrance of the arena, where we took pictures with a comedian whose name I don’t remember, he performed too, and the only thing that stock in my mind was that he worked at some point with George López.
We were happy, the kids were happy. It was nice to see some parents coming to the show and giving support to their children by actually getting involved with their kids, not just throwing them at the hands of their teachers expecting us to make miracles with them.
And all of this coming from a guy who teaches music in an elementary school district, who is married and has a family, a guy who hardly speaks any Spanish, who was born in Ohio and came in contact with the Mexican culture recently, but an individual that loves mariachi music, that amazing feeling we all felt that night when we celebrated Festival of Mariachi 2007.
© Pictures and text David Alberto Muñoz, Ph.D.
Faculty Philosophy & Religious Studies
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
2626 East Pecos Road
Chandler, Arizona 85225-2499