Wow…All over Lakeside today, folks are shaking their heads in disbelief at the wonderful surprise some of mothers of Ajijic received yesterday when they showed up at their children’s annual Mother’s Day school program.
Most school programs for Mother’s Day feature kids in costumes reciting poems, singing “Las Mananitas” and performing traditional folk dances. During the afternoon events, the mom’s are often entered in a raffle and awarded sets of coffee mugs, or drinking glasses, along with the occasional small appliance.
So you can imagine the shock and amazement to moms and grandmothers arrived for their annual salute at the school above the highway in Ajijic and to find that along with the kids, they were being treated to two hours of music by Mexico’s best and favorite mariachis – Mariachi Vargas de Tecaltitlan. Those women are still reeling with pleasure and surprise today – and most of the other women of Lakeside (along with many of the men) are green with envy.
When Mariachi Vargas played in concert to a full house earlier this year in Ajijic, not only did the tickets go for a whopping $350 pesos ($30US), the famous band didn’t take the stage until after 11 p.m. for a two-hour show.
No One is as Special as a Mexican Mom
We told you a couple of days ago that no one is as special as a Mexican Mom…and these special moms watched their own private two-hour concert – free! No wonder they are still breathless with excitement!
Mariachi Vargas is one of the oldest mariachi groups in this state of Jalisco, which is the birthplace of the familiar groups of 10 or more musicians. It was Don Gaspar Vargas who gathered the first ensemble of musicians in his Jalisco hometown of Tecaltitlan – still the modern groups home base. (Here’s a shot of the group about 50 years ago with Mexico’s then president, Lazaro Cardenas)
No All Mexican Music is Mariachi – Not by a LONG Shot!
Not all Mexican music or musicians are mariachi – traditional mariachi features five violins, 2 trumpets, three guitars in varying sizes and sometimes a Jalisco harp. Most musicos (musicians) today, especially those who perform in top notch groups like the world famous favorite – Mariachi Vargas de Tecaltitlan – are so well-trained and proficient that they could play in any symphony orchestra.
Good Mariachis are VERY Good Musicians
Here’s proof – this UTUBE video shows Mariachi Vargas performing in concert with the Philharmonic Symphony of Queretaro. In this bit, you’ll hear a good sampling of the incredible voices of this group, and their professional musicality.
Next, there’s a PBS video clip of Mariachi Vargas performing “Cascabel” (The Rattlesnake) in concert. If the violins and trumpets don’t impress you, the guitars and voices will!
Ah the Mexican Song We All Know – Cielito Lindo
Here’s a Mexican song beloved by everyone – Mexicans and foreigners – love “Cielito Lindo”. We’re betting you’ll seldom hear it done better than this UTube rendition which includes a short medley of other favorite Mexican tunes. (See the running Japanese script across this video? that’s because mariachi is exceedingly popular in many countries around the world, including far-flung places like Japan, Switzerland and Croatia
Linda Ronstadt with Mariachi Vargas
You probably already know the sound of Mariachi Vargas. Have you heard Linda Ronstadt’s Grammy-winning 1986 CD of traditional Mexican music? Not only did “Canciones de mi Padre” feature Mariachi Vargas, Linda Ronstadt and the group toured the US. Here, from the DVD of the same name, is Linda explaining and introducing Mariachi Vargas performing the song you know as rock and roll from back in our day, which actually had it’s roots as a courtship song from Vera Cruz -- “La Bamba.”
Linda and her niece Mindy sing “Y Andale” with Mariachi Vargas on the same DVD. Listen to old Mexican drinking song (and Linda’s introduction of it)from the DVD “Canciones de mi Padre” from UTUBE.
This is Why I Love Mexico and Mexican Music
I suspect it was polka-flavored songs like “Y Andale” that helped cement not only my love of Mexico, but my love of Mexican music. in this song you hear the influence of Mexico, mixed with the polka band rhythms and moving bass parts brought to the border by South Texas’ German settlers. As a child, I fell asleep on summer nights hearing German bands playing in the town’s Polka Hall four blocks away; songs like this still take me right back to that carefree time and cozy place.
You Should Own this CD or DVD!
If you love Mexico you owe it to yourself to own this classic CD and/or DVD (whether you love Mexican music, and especially if you think you’ve heard it and don’t like it.) Hearing Linda’s explanations of the various songs, turning on the DVD’s translated text and lyrics (or reading the lyrics in English in the liner notes) helps bring a new appreciation to these old songs, many of which were popular in the early days of Mariachi popularity – the Mexican Revolution of 1910.
With this year being the centennial of that hard-fought civil war, (and the bicentennial of Mexico’s fight for Independence which began in 1810, it’s time to learn a bit more about Mexican culture.
Mexico’s Mariachi music is a great place to start!
Visit the Mariachi Vargas de Tecaltitlan section of your CD store or of your favorite online outlet of Mexican music and give yourself a purely Mexican treat—hurry home, pour an icy margarita, settle back, gaze into the distance – envisioning sunset over Lake Chapala. Ooooh, now that’s Mexico!