All you will ever need to know about Mariachi!


One sultry summer evening in July 1975, my wife and I were on vacations in tropical Puerto Vallarta. We had not been successful in our hunt for an air-conditioned restaurant on the beach; but we did find a very popular spot called "Moby Dick" that featured both fresh seafood, courtesy of the Bahia Banderas, and fresh breezes, courtesy of some rapidly whirling ceiling fans. We made yet another "find" on that very pleasant evening, the music called mariachi. When the nine musicians, clad in matching black and silver outfits, complete with embroided sombreros, made their way to our table, we had no idea what to expect. Short on Spanish, as well as ignorant of the proper protocol, we were very definitely two bewildered gringos. We recognized some of the instruments that the musicians were holding-- a guitar, two trumpets, and four violins. Others, including a convex-backed five stringed cousin to the guitar and a six stringed bigger brother, definitely related to a double bass, were totally unfamiliar to us. We later found out that they were called, respectively, the vihuela and guitarrĂ³n. When we just shrugged our shoulders and turned our hands palms-up at the question asked by the bands obvious leader, the group immediately burst into song . . . and mariachi, Mexico's home-grown music, had given birth to two more life-long fans.

Looking back on that evening, I realize that we really knew very little about what we were enjoying. First, we had no knowledge of the history of mariachi --the name given not only to the music but to the group and its individual members, as well. We also had no idea about the protocol to follow when the musicians approached our table. For example, do we eat while they play? And finally, we had no idea what the lyrics meant (what was the story that the song was telling?).

Many years later, I'm more certain than ever that most English-speaking visitors to Mexico still need help in these three areas. For that reason, I compiled Mariachi for Gringos. You will find the story and proper protocol for becoming an informed mariachi aficionado, as well as 50 of the most requested mariachi standards. The music for these classics includes annotated melody lines and chords, as well as the Spanish lyrics and English translations. Best of all, everything is in a format designed to fit your jeans, back (or fanny) pack, or purse. Take it along with you on your next trip to anywhere mariachi is played, including many Mexican restaurants and cantinas in the U.S.A, and begin to enjoy your experience to the fullest.

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