The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the livelihood of many musicians around the world. Mariachi musicians specifically depend on live performances as part of their income to make ends meet. Some mariachi groups can perform multiple times a day every single day of the week just to make it to the end of the month. It is now impossible for these individuals to make a living due to the stay at home ordinances that the government has imposed around the country. However, among the insecurities that the pandemic has brought, some musicians have found a way to earn income while staying safe at home.
For the past couple of weeks, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán has had an ongoing social media campaign encouraging their followers to stay at home due to the crisis. Using the hashtag initiative #YoMeQuedoEnCasa, the group has been sharing pictures of themselves at home performing, practicing, and spending time with their loved ones. Because of their newly found availability, some of the group members are now offering online private lessons. On a phone call with trumpet player Agustin Sandoval, he disclosed the following:
“I’m offering 1 hour lessons to trumpet players of any level. We can cover anything from fundamentals to specific repertoire. It is up to the student and where they need help in. The class will take place through Facebook or instagram video call” (Translated from Spanish to English by Leon Camacho). Each member of the group offers different services. Jonathan Palomar is giving 45 minute lessons on guitar or voice. His guitar lessons are for any level player but strictly on mariachi guitar, whereas his voice lessons are more general and not only on mariachi.
With the exception of Jonathan Palomar, who spent part of his life living in the United States, private lessons offered by the other members of Mariachi Vargas are in spanish, so keep that in mind before contacting them.
The following Mariachi Vargas members are offering their services throughout the quarantine:
Enrique de Santiago Guitarrón
Whatsapp: 55 35009990
Enrique de Santiago descends from Mexico’s most respected family of guitarrón virtuosos. His father Berna is the most recorded guitarrón player in history and his late uncle Nati is considered the all-time greatest practitioner of the instrument. Enrique has been a key contributor to the evolution of mariachi music and the role of the guitarrón during his 30-year trajectory with Mariachi Vargas.
Óscar Ortega – Violin
Facebook: Oscar Ortega
Óscar Ortega joined Mariachi Vargas as a vocalist and violinist three years ago. Since then, he recorded on Vargas’ latest album Concierto Sinfónico de Aniversario and performed with the group on Luis Miguel’s México Por Siempre tour. Prior to this, he recorded a solo CD with Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán and participated in the group’s El Mejor Mariachi de Jalisco album.
Ángel López – Violin
Ángel joined Mariachi Vargas as a vocalist and violinist in the summer of 2018. Prior to that, he toured with Juan Gabriel’s Mariachi de Mi Tierra for five years. Juan Gabriel often presented Ángel as a featured soloist in his shows up until the passing of the legendary artist in 2016. Ángel also honed his skills with Mexico City-based groups like Mariachi Gallos de México de Felipe Martínez (son of the late José “Pepe” Martínez, Sr.) and Mariachi Sonidos de América.
Jonathan Palomar – Guitar / Voice
FB: Jonathan Palomar
Jonathan Palomar’s greatness can be attributed in part to the fact that he descends from a legendary musical family. His father Rafael Palomar was a vocalist and guitarist with Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán for 23 years (1980–2003). Jonathan joined Mariachi Vargas in 2017 as a guitarist and vocalist.
Víctor Alvarez – Harp
FB: Victor Alvarez
Víctor has an impressive résumé that includes a bachelor’s degree in music education from the prestigious Universidad Veracruzana and a master’s degree in music technology from the Universidad Filadelfia de México. He has received numerous awards in several countries for his diverse talents and accomplishments as a highly skilled musician and performer.
Agustín Sandoval – Trumpet
Agustín is the newest trompetista to join Mariachi Vargas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the Universidad de Guadalajara and has performed as a soloist with a wide variety of ensembles. His diverse musical background includes symphonic music, big band and modern jazz. Prior to joining Vargas, Agustín was a member of Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán and Mariachi Real de Oro in Guadalajara.
Robert Lopez – Violin
Robert is the first Mexican American to join Mariachi Vargas in its 122-year history. The California native made his mark on the mariachi world as a vocalist and violinist during his 10-year career with Mariachi Sol de México de José Hernández. Prior to joining Mariachi Vargas in 2018, Robert recorded on several albums with Mariachi Sol de México and Mariachi Los Camperos and even shared the stage with Lady Gaga.
Photo Credits: Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán