Sunday, November 25, 2012

Las Cruces, NM: Mariachi Conference: Mariachi music

Mariachi Conference, Las Cruces, New Mexico

After the Mariachi Mass, the second day of a Mariachi Festival was in progress at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum.

Students of mariachi were in competition.

I will admit this: Many of the songs I heard, I couldn't think past chips and salsa in a Mexican restaurant. A pity. Sort of like, for a time, Carly Simon's most famous songs became inseparable from things like ketchup pouring from a bottle.

For example, the pre-ketchup version of Anticipation:

For those of you born before the ketchup commercial, savor the pleasure of the song above, before you watch the one below.  

The ketchup version:

So anyhoo, back to mariachi and the unfortunate Pavlovian association with chips and salsa.

There's much more to mariachi, of course. Here is a beautifully-written history of mariachi, including the people, the instruments, the clothing, the style, and the artistry. I especially like these excerpts: "Mariachi issued from the soul of Mexico like jazz emerged from the spirit of the U. S. .... Mariachi is now a part of America’s musical heritage."

When friends Kate and Pam and I went to Tlaxcala, Mexico, a few years ago, we were the happy listeners of a haunting, romantic song from one of the mariachi group that wandered through the plazas. No thoughts of chips and salsa arose there.

Mariachi, Tlaxcala, Mexico

Shortly after I arrived at the Sunday festival, a boy took the stage. The backdrop to his stage had just as much dramatic presence as he did. 

Mariachi Conference, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Most of the singing was in Spanish, and I'm really rusty in same, so I didn't catch a lot of it. But I noticed that humor played a significant role in the mariachi songs. 

Presently, a woman took stage. I'm assuming her dress is a traditional style for soloists in this musical genre. 

Mariachi Conference, Las Cruces, New Mexico

 Some shots of the student mariachi competitors:  

Mariachi Conference, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Mariachi Conference, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Mariachi Conference, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Mariachi Conference, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Mariachi Conference, Las Cruces, New Mexico
In watching the competing groups, I saw that showmanship is as important in mariachi as it is in the Georgian dance. Smiles, gestures, confidence, wit ... all part of the big picture.  

One very accomplished group had three of its girl singers approach the judges' table, where they flirted in song and body language in outsize fashion, wooing high scores from the judges. Hilarious; well done. 

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