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Mariachis in National City Carl Robinette | Sat, Mar 15 2014 12:00 PM

Dust off your dancing boots because some of the top mariachi talent in the world is coming to South County for the second annual National City Mariachi Festival and Competition March 13-15.

Youth mariachis will be going toe-to-toe in competitions Thursday and Friday at University of San Diego for the chance to play the main event on Saturday, headlined by the legendary Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. 

The Friday showcase will be headlined by the famed Mariachi Viva Tecalitlan from Jalisco, Mexico.

“I’m excited about it all,” said Jacqueline Reynoso of the National City Chamber of Commerce, the event’s host. “I can’t wait to hear Los Camperos on stage.”

Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano are considered visionaries of mariachi. Led by trailblazer Natividad “Nati” Cano, the Grammy Award-winning Los Camperos offer up a platter of versatility with a huge range of styles and rhythms.

Its vibrant string section can deliver anything from folksy charm to classical perfection. They stand up well against big horns that offer energy and warmth to the performance.

But what you will remember about Los Camperos are the vocals. Here is where Los Camperos win the audience over with the operatic prowess that draws the listener emotionally into the music. With vocals like these, who needs instruments?  Luckily, Los Camperos have it all.

“Los Camperos is one of the best mariachi groups in the world,” said Jeff Nevin, president of the Mariachi Scholarship Foundation and music instructor at Southwestern College.  “Everyone in the mariachi world would put them in the top four mariachis on the planet. And it’s been that way probably for the last 20 years.”

Mariachi Viva Tecalitlan has been wowing mariachi aficionados around the world for years.  This youth group from the home of renowned Mariachi Vargas Tecalitlan, brings the traditional into the modern era as the young performers deliver world-class mariachi. 

“It’s just a real treat for us to have them coming up to play and playing alongside our students. They come from the heart of mariachi,” said Nevin.

Mariachi Aztlán of University of Texas Pan American is an award-winning ensemble and regular contender as top college or university mariachi in the United States. Aztlán is also a leading promoter of Mexican folk music and a top mariachi performer.  It was selected to accompany the premier of the stage production, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, considered the world’s first mariachi opera.  They will be among the instructors helping the young mariachis hone their skills in the various workshops offered as part of the festival.

The fest is the culmination of a joint effort of the National City Chamber of Commerce, Mariachi Scholarship Foundation and Serafin Paredes, host of the USD Mariachi Showcase.

“We’re just trying to bring all the people together who are interested in doing mariachi in San Diego to be included in a bigger vision,” said Nevin.

The young mariachi students will be performing in competitions Thursday night and top performers will move on to the Friday night competition. The ultimate victors will move on to perform on the same stage as Los Camperos.

The Thursday night competition is open to the public with a $5 admission. Friday’s competition is $15 at the door. Ticket information is available at the USD website. Admission is free to the Saturday festival at Pepper Park in National City. 

For more information, go to www.mariachifest.com.

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