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Sunday, October 3, 2010

ROSARITO BEACH - A Magnificent Night of Mariachi

The Mariachi Festival at the famous Rosarito Hotel was nothing short of spectacular, and this is from someone who really knew nothing about the music at all. This amazing evening turned me into a fan.  

The event was held outdoors on the lawn of the beautiful hotel, next to the pier. There were art exhibits, food and bar service with servers and a great view of the stage for at least 700 people, with assigned seating at tables complete with white table cloths and complimentary bottle of LA Cetto wine for VIP.  

In addition to great mariachi music, the event helped raised additional revenue needed to build Rosarito’s first Boys & Girls Club, and only the second Boys & Girls Club in all of Mexico.  

The performances began with Rosarito’s Mexican folk dance group “Folklorico Ixtlazihuatl”. Apparently this was not the original order of appearance, but I can’t imagine how it could have been better. It was the only non-musical group to perform, and perform they did. I had not seen a group like this, and I found it extremely fun and enjoyable. The stomping of boots and bright colorful dresses being swirled about lifted the spirit and was a wonderful way to kick things off.  

Next on stage was the youngest performer of the evening, 12-year old Maya. This beautiful little girl may have been small and petite, but had the voice of seasoned pro, yet her joyful innocence was clear when she would giggle periodically, when speaking in English. When Maya moved to Baja, she didn’t speak a word of Spanish. When her father gave her a CD of music from around the world, Maya fell in love with mariachi and began singing it. She was discovered signing mariachi on Youtube by Linda Ronstadt and invited to open at the San Jose mariachi and Mexican Heritage Festival, her popularity has blossomed, and now at her young age she has performed at festivals, for Mayors, Governors and for the Mexican Bicentennial.  

Timoteo "El Charro Negro" was next to perform with energy and charisma. Not only did he have a wonderful performance, but he had the audience engaged through his delivery and humor. Both in English and in Spanish the audience seemed to connect. Like the other artists performing this evening, Timoteo was unique and very talented. An African-American, based out of Long Beach, California, that sings in Spanish, with great passion and conviction. There was a transparent fusion of traditional Mexican music mixed with the subtle feel of contemporary of Soul or R&B.  

The next performer, Olga Flores was clearly a crowd favorite receiving applause before hitting her first note. When she did begin to sing, it was clear why she was so known and loved; her voice was passionate and soulful. Olga is a native of Tuscon Arizona and has been studying and playing music since 4th grade, when she fell in love with mariachi. Olga's speciality is classic Rancheras and Boleros, although she as worked in other genres such as flamenco, hip hop and R&B. Her stage presence and clear love of the music and the audience captured my attention and carried me through until her last note. This classy woman was a true joy to watch and like the talents that graced the stage before her, she had a new fan.  

The three-hour concert was headlined by the Los Angeles-based Mariachi Divas, a 20-member group that last year was awarded the Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Music for its album “Canciones de Amor.” Joining the Mariachi Divas on stage were 13-year old Genesis Codina, a young raising talent in not only mariachi, but also television, this young beauty owned the stage. In addition to Genesis, the Divas were joined on stage by Grammy Award winning Producer, Annanger and Musical Director, Beto Jimenez Maeda, who after being introduced performed solo accompanied by the Divas.  

The music covered a wide range, from music that based on audience response were clearly mariachi favorites to more contemporary hit like “La Bamba”, the top 40 hit in the U.S. by Ritchie Valens, which turns out to be a Mexican folk song, originally from the state of Veracruz and the 1964 Motown hit single “My Guy”, by Mary Wells.  

Event organizer Gil Sperry, Boys & Girls Club President Rosy Torres, The Rosarto Hotel, Mayor Torres, Ron Raposa and everyone else involved in producing the terrific event should be proud. I hope this brings you the return the boys & girls desire.  

I only have a vague idea of the amount of work that went into this event, and I’m sure behind the scenes that there may have been unforeseen mishaps or obstacles, but from the perspective of a Maricahi novice in the front row - this was perfection.