By América Cárdenas
On January 31, 2016, eighteen students from Pueblo’s Mariachi Aztlán mariachi group, including several chaperones and teacher Mr. John Contreras, ventured to Palm Springs, CA, as an opening act for the group, Pink Martini, a pop jazz and Latin/lounge musical group from Portland, OR, that is traveling around the country.
The three-day trip began on Sunday, January 31, at 6:00 a.m., driving straight through to Palm Springs, a five-hour trip from Tucson. Most students slept on the bus, but perked up once they arrived at the hotel.
One member of the Mariachi Aztlán, senior Daniel Motley, said, “Once we got to the motel, we all woke up quickly. My favorite part of the trip was being able to share the stage with Pink Martini and learning a few of their songs.”
Mariachi Aztlán performed four times during this trip, and each performance was slightly different because the group played in different areas.
Rafael Miranda, another senior, said “In order to prepare for the Pink Martini Performances, I practiced throughout the entire year. I also listen to their recordings over and over.”
Senior Jaret Young said, “A member of Pink Martini who really influenced me was Miguel Bernal. He was very open and humble. He told me about his life in Cuba and how he told his family about me and the mariachi. He also offered me free Conga lessons. Another influential member of the group was Phil Baker. He wrote down music for me and offered me free bass lessons in Oregon.”
Mariachi teacher Mr. John Contreras said he was contacted by Pink Martini’s management over the winter break. They said that Pueblo’s mariachi group had been recommended as one of the student groups that excelled in Tucson by the manager of the Rialto Theatre, Curtis McCrary, who had dealt with Pueblo’s mariachi group in various capacities over the part of the 10-15 years.
“One of the members of Pink Martini found some YouTube footage of Mariachi Aztlán, and they liked what they saw,” Contreras said. “They invited us to perform a couple of their songs with them and possibly open the show for them, and that was the way we were put in contact with them.”
Several members of Mariachi Aztlán were interviewed by local news reporters in Palm Springs, who happened to attend the performances.
Senior Yajaira Othon said, “All of the experiences this weekend truly were magnificent! Pink Martini’s band members and their audience were extremely supportive and very nice. This three-day weekend ranks in one of my favorite moments in my high school years.”