For one day each August, the bright strains of horns, harp, and guitars waft from the open-air stage of the Santa Barbara Bowl when top-notch mariachi groups come to town to perform at the Mariachi Festival as part of Old Spanish Days. The 20-year-old tradition continues on Saturday, August 8, with a stellar lineup not to be missed that includes singer/actor Pablo Montero and the following acts:
Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles: Founded by Kareli Montoya in 2011, Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles combines Mexican and American folk dancing choreography in their shows. The troupe has made a name for itself in a relatively short time, already having performed with such venerable musicians as Grammy Award–winning Mariachi Los Camperos and world-famous Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.
Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar: In 1994, Jaime Cuéllar founded Mariachi Garibaldi as a privately run community youth group, which quickly became popular in its hometown of Bakersfield. Since then, Mariachi Garibaldi has evolved into an ensemble led by Cuéllar’s son Jimmy “El Pollo” Cuéllar, performing with such luminaries as Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and Mariachi Imperial de México.
Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea: Trumpeter Cindy Shea spent years playing myriad musical genres before falling for Mariachi in the 1990s. Sixteen years ago, she established Mariachi Divas, an all-female group that has won multiple Grammy Awards and released numerous CDs. Since 2003 they have been the official mariachi band of the Disneyland Resort.
Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, with special guests Alicia Villarreal and Ana Barbara: Originally assembled in 1897, the group is now in its fifth generation of musicians. Bridging past and contemporary styles, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán gives a nod to its roots by playing traditional Mexican songs, but the group — which comprises two harps, one vihuela, one guitar, one guitarrón, three trumpets, and six violins — also includes classical works in its repertoire. —Michelle Drown
For more information and tickets, call (805) 962-7411 or see sbbowl.com.