Home Madrid scholarships Santa Barbara Mariachi Fest x 25

Santa Barbara Mariachi Fest x 25


Ironically, or not, mariachi music, the great American genre born in Jalisco in the mid-19th century, has its long weekend in the sun, Mexican style, during the Old Spanish Days. Downtown, roving mariachi bands rock music through the city’s festive aura in Fiesta mode. Meanwhile, in the mythical hillside paradise of the Santa Barbara Bowl, during Saturday night prime time during Fiesta, the highly acclaimed Mariachi Festival showcases some of the world’s best performers of its genre.

This year, the festival, a non-profit organization that channels proceeds into scholarships for local Latino students, reaches the milestone of its 25th anniversary. The four-and-a-half-hour concert/festival features a high-caliber roster for the occasion, featuring Pedro Fernández, Natalia Jiménez and Mariachi Estrella de México.

Credit: Santa Barbara Mariachi Festival

Each year, the festival hosts full-fledged mariachi bands, but also features special guest singers. This year the spotlight goes to the famous Spanish singer Jiménez, winner of Grammy and Latin Grammy awards and with total sales of over 30 million. The singer alternates nimbly between Latin pop and Mexican regional styles, including mariachi with modern twists, as heard on both volumes of her fairly recent and impressive Mexico of Mi Corazón project.

Now 40 and strong in mid-career, Jiménez has a discography dating back to 2001, when she fronted band La Quinta Estación before going solo. Suiting her transcontinental career and cultural ties, she now splits her time between Miami and Mexico City, with jaunts to Madrid.

From a male singer’s perspective, Fernandez is your basic hyphen creature, a singer/actor/songwriter/composer/producer/TV host. At 59, his biography includes 40 albums and dozens of soap operas and films.

A notable headliner this year, Mariachi Estrella de México exemplifies the expansion of the once male-dominated musical world into a transgender realm, with a mix of well-dressed men and women in the ranks.

All told, the 25th Anniversary Gala promises to be a mariachi festival worth attending.

See sbbowl.com.

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