With its roots buried deep in the past—arguably the early 1700s, in the campos of Western Mexico—Mariachi is a truly unique musical genre. Beloved the world over, but especially cherished here in our neck of the woods, Mariachi music, at its best, feels electric, life-affirming, dramatic, and relevant. Not bad for a musical style that's been around for so long. Think about it: what other folk music modes from the 1700s could you even name, let alone vibe to with a cerveza in hand?
Mariachi has staying power. Mariachi has magic that transcends even its own (considerable) cultural significance. You may never have visited or even seen pictures of rural Michoacán, or basked in the shadow of a Colima volcano, but you can almost capture the feeling of these places if you listen deeply to your friendly neighborhood Mariachi group.
In San Antonio, there are so many opportunities to see/hear Mariachi performances that we have almost come to take them for granted. One special, annual event, however, knows exactly how important and thriving the contemporary Mariachi milieu is: Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza.
This year marks the 23rd annual Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza, a week-long event that features tons of great sub-events (concerts, workshops, competitions, and more). The whole affair is centered on the craft of Mariachi performance and is inspired by (and features) the namesake group Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, which, founded in 1897, is widely-considered the absolute best in the business.
While the whole sprawling affair kicked off on Sunday with a Mariachi Mass, and has continued with a few small events, there’s still a great deal, including the main event, to look forward to catching.
Saturday's Student Presentation, VIP Meet and Greet, and Mariachi Vargas Concert, all at Lila Cockrell Theatre (and the first two free), round out a week of celebrating culture, heritage, and a musical style that's as heavy with history as it is buoyant with passion and hope.