Mariachi Los Camperos is the multiple Grammy-winning mariachi orchestra from Los Angeles who brought mariachi out of the cantina, to La Fonda mariachi theater, and then onto the world’s greatest stages.
They are the most famous mariachis in the United States and one of the best in the world. They trained two generations of mariachi in the U.S. In early 2020, Los Camperos “De Ayer Para Siempre” won their second Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (including Tejano). It doesn’t get any better than this.
Friday, March 20, 2020 ~ Mariachi los Camperos plays the Purchase College Performing Arts Center in Purchase, New York (near White Plains) at 8pm.
This is going to be a big fiesta. The Dean of the Purchase College School of the Arts and the NYC School Chancellor are going to sit in for a few songs.
There will be conversation with the artists after. They’ll be talking about how education and the arts are a path forward for our communities.
Tickets $70 at artscenter.org
CANCELLED FOR COVID-19
Mariachi los Camperos
In 1961, a young arranger from Ahuisculco, Jalisco, named Natividad “Nati” Cano joined a mariachi band in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. That’s the border town opposite Calexico and El Centro in California’s crop-growing Imperial Valley.
In 1969 the group moved to Los Angeles and started the first mariachi dinner theater. The restaurant on Wilshire Blvd in Westlake is called La Fonda de Los Camperos. It means the inn of the country people. They renamed the band Mariachi Los Camperos.
[From the Editor: I was born in Los Angeles. When I was little, my parents used to take me to play in MacArthur Park and then to La Fonda for dinner. I never forgot the mariachi there. It was Los Camperos. Maybe that’s why I love mariachi now.]
La Fonda was a success. It had closed for a few years, but it’s open again. Playing night after night, Los Camperos became the university of mariachi in the United States. They raised the level of performance and trained an entire generation (or two) of mariachis.
Mariachi was originally bar or cantina music and people looked down on it. Cano’s dream was to play on bigger stages. He put mariachi into places they had never been before, places like Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and Getty Center.
When Mexican-American rock star Linda Ronstadt recorded her album “Canciones de Mi Padre” (Songs of My Father) in 1987, Los Camperos was one of the mariachis she worked with. The Grammy-winning album was the biggest selling non-English language in U.S. history. [Love the Chucho Martínez Gil song from that album “Dos Arbolitos.” ]
For 2005, “Llegaron Los Camperos! Concert Favorites of Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos” was nominated for the Grammy for Best Mexican/Mexican-American Album.
For 2009, “Amor, Dolor y Lágrimas: Música Ranchera” won the Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Album.
Jesús “Chuy” Guzmán took over the orchestra’s leadership when Nati Cono crossed over in 2014.
For 2015, “Tradición, Arte y Pasión” was nominated for the Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (including Tejano).
In 2018, Los Camperos were the orchestra for New York City Opera’s “Cruzar la cara de la luna,” the world’s first mariachi opera. It ran at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
For 2019, “De Ayer Para Siempre” won the Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (including Tejano).
So Mariachi Los Camperos is the orchestra that transformed mariachi from a music of the cantina to a music of the world’s greatest stages. Nati Cano brought mariachi out into the world. Pretty good for guy from a very small town outside of Guadalajara.
“Ay, ay, ay-ay, canta y no llores…” Can’t hold back the tears. If you’re from the American southwest or Mexico, this is the music of home. Llorando…
Mariachi is mostly ranchera music played by musicians wearing fancy Charro cowboy outfits. Mexico has many musical traditions, but ranchera is sort of the Mexican blues.
At the beginning of radio in the 1920s, the new Mexican government promoted mariachi in an attempt to forge a Mexican identity out of many diverse peoples. They were successful. When you think of Mexican music, mariachi is the first thing that comes to mind.
The music awards put mariachi/ranchera in the Regional Mexican category. That is the most popular category of Latin music in the United States. It’s “Regional” because there are so many regional variations.
Mariachis have become traditional birthday bands across the Latin world. They are very popular in Colombia, just as cumbia is popular in Mexico.