Some time ago, I watched Mariachi Flor de Toloache on a Tiny Desk Concert. So when I saw they were playing Bethlehem’s Musikfest, and that they were on just an hour or so before the band I was really excited to see, I made a point of getting there extra early to witness the mariachi greatness in person.
Mariachi Flor de Toloache are from Brooklyn and are one of the few all-female mariachi bands on the East Coast. On record the full complement of the band is 13 members, but the touring band seems to be Mireya Ramos on violin who played some amazing solos ; Shae Fiol on vihuela (see below) who was a great performer, encouraging everyone to clap and dance. Veronica Medellin played guitarron and sang and Julie Acosta played (impeccable) trumpet and taught us all to “oip!” at the right time.
Because of a parking snafu I wound up arriving a few minutes into their set, but they were going full blast hitting long high sustained notes with ease.
As I sat down, they taught us how to holler la grita–the whoops and yells that tend to accompany mariachi music. And then they proceeded to take us on a tour through Mexico, mentioning several cities and playing music especially from there.
They played some cumbia, and it was so much fun to watch the older fans in the front rows get up and dance–some rather authentically it seemed. They played a number of traditional songs. I don’t remember any titles, although one was mentioned as being practically Mexico’s second national anthem (“Son de la Negra, I believe). They played a delightful version of “Besame Mucho” and a song that they said came from Chihuahua, among other places.
But the most memorable moment for me was when they explained that for the Latin Grammies they were asked to do a rock cover. And so they launched into an awesome Mariachi version of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are,” complete with quotes from Led Zeppelin tossed in. It was very cool (you can hear a sample of it here).
I didn’t get to stay for their whole set as I had to get to the next venue, but the 30 or so minutes I saw were fantastic.
Here’s the guitarron and vihuela a little closer.
And one more video clip.
Oh, heck, here’s another.