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July 31, 2003

American Folklife Center Presents Mariachi Los Amigos

Concert Is the Second in the "Capital Roots" Series

The American Folklife Center and the Public Collections Services Directorate at the Library of Congress present Mariachi Los Amigos in a concert of music from the Mexican mariachi tradition, at noon on Thursday, Aug. 7, on the Thomas Jefferson Building’s Neptune Plaza, First Street and Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. The concert is free of charge and open to the public.

This outdoor concert is the second in the "Capital Roots" series, monthly presentations of traditional music and dance from Washington-area artists. The series is a part of "I Hear America Singing," a Library of Congress project celebrating America’s music.

Mariachi music emerged in the early 1900s from the ranches and small towns of western central Mexico, including Jalisco, Nayarit, Colima and Michoacan. As Mexico’s population became more and more urban in the 20th century, so did mariachi music. Mexican radio, recordings, cinema, and television featured mariachi music, and the music spread to all corners of Mexico and beyond. The electronic media and immigration from Mexico has made mariachi music an important form of musical expression in the United States. There are more than 20 major mariachi festivals around the United States, and mariachi ensembles are found today in a majority of the states.

Mariachi Los Amigos, founded in 1979, is the Washington area’s longest existing mariachi ensemble. As its name implies, it was formed by a group of friends who shared a passion for the lively, extroverted sound of mariachi. With the Washington, D.C., area as a base, Mariachi Los Amigos has played for a wide variety of events, from weddings, baptisms and "quinceaneras" (coming out parties for 15-year-old girls), to shopping center promotions, presidential state dinners and inaugurations. Whatever the occasion, Los Amigos play the music they love the most, the "straight-ahead" mariachi sound.

The earliest members of Mariachi Los Amigos originated in many nations and regions, including Mexico, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Texas and California. While its membership has evolved over the years, its original spirit remains. Founding members Luis Gonzalez on "vihuela" (stringed instrument) and Daniel Sheehy on trumpet are from Mexico and California, respectively; "guitarronero" (player of bass stringed instrument) Mario Castro, Mexico; trumpeter Francisco Soto, Arizona; violinist Terry Liu, Ohio; violinist Dannice Crespo, Bolivia; and violinist Danny Sheehy, Virginia. Mariachi Los Amigos performs a wide ranging repertoire of musical material, from the latest "cancion ranchera" (country song) to some of the oldest of the hard-driving "sones" (Mexican song forms).

The inclement weather location for the concert is the Coolidge Auditorium, on the ground floor of the Jefferson Building. The closest Metro stops are at Capitol South (orange and blue lines) and Union Station (red line). The next concert in the Capital Roots series is Little Bit of Blues, with Warner Williams and Jay Summerour, on Sept. 11.

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world.

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PR 03-131
07/31/03
ISSN 0731-3527

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