American Latino Magazine The Business of El Mariachi - Page 6

Mariachi In America “I was in Camarillo High School when my friend shared with me the music of El Mariachi. I loved it so much that within six weeks I was asked if I would perform with the group. ALM: How long did it take to get good enough to play for an audience? Carlos: I was shocked that it only took me about 6 weeks before they asked me to go along and play live. Some of the parents of the other kids in the group who did not get to play live were upset; but the instructor said I was good enough to play because I practiced every day and their kids were not up to speed. ALM: What about the singing; how long did it take to perfect? Carlos: Singing is a whole different animal. My mentor, Nati Cano of Los Camperos, once told me that I was not a Mariachi unless I could sing. How could I say no? The music vibrated through my blood, and I loved the rush!” Mariachi Aguilas de Mexico Carlos: My family played music all the time; style of music called “Musica Norteña”. Our family was also part of a church choir. My mom sand and when I was about 5 years old they had me play the tambourine. I did that for about 4 to 5 years and then my parents separated. My mother, brother, and I went to live with my grandmother and it was very hard. We were very poor. A tortilla with salt was a treat. Years later my mother remarried and we moved to Camarillo. After 4 months in the group Danny’s father, who ran the group, asked if I could sing and I said “heck yeah!” So se asked me to sing along with the band. Everyone looked at me like “what the heck was that?” I was not that good. It took a while before the notes and sounds stuck in my head. Mariachi Juvenil Azteca. I went with him to a festival at Oxnard College. He was having a great time playing the trumpet. That was over 20 years ago. Eventually I went to their practice. My friend Danny Palomino, asked if I had an instrument to play. I said not and he pointed to an old trumpet of his for me to pick up. I had never played an instrument before. ALM: No formal training? Carlos: Correct. We would practice in his garage I was about 15 years old when a friend of mine in Camarillo. Danny would say “hold the invited me to watch him play; he was wearing trumpet this way and press those valves in the this Mariachi suit. I said “you play Mariachi… sequence and blow air like this”. It sounded that’s for geeks”. He was in a group called funny at fir 7B'WB