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Mariachis celebrate Valentine's Day

Vida En El Valle

By Jennie Rodriguez

STOCKTON -- Valley residents were treated to a special Valentine's serenade by world-renowned mariachi musicians last weekend.

Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán and Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano performed on the same stage at Bob Hope Theater Saturday night.

More than 1,630 tickets were sold at the 2,000-seat theater. The Mariachi Festival tour also stopped at Bakersfield's Fox Theater on Friday.

Mariachi Vargas, a generations-long group formed in Tecalitlán, Jalisco, México, more than a century ago, pleased the audience with traditional love songs such as tunes from José Alfredo Jiménez and Vicente Fernández's 'Hermoso Cariño.' Their technical precision on the trumpets, guitars, violins and the harp delivered an impeccable sound.

Concertgoers were enchanted by harp and trumpet solos that were ideally romantic for the Valentine's Day weekend.

"It was just beautiful," said Lupe Arevalo, of Stockton. "It was very romantic. The very best."

Praises and gritos erupted for every thunderous voice that echoed through the theater. When band member Arturo Vargas showed off his falsetto notes the cheering amplified.

Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán was formed by Gaspar Vargas in 1897 in Tecalitlán, Jalisco, México. Today, the fifth-generation mariachi group's popularity and longevity surpass that of any other mariachi group internationally.

Prior to the concert beginning, concertgoers were welcomed to the Bob Hope Theater by Mariachi Chávez, of Chávez High School in Stockton, which played outside the theater.

Teenage members of the group were honored to be part of the event. "It's a great experience" to be part of a Mariachi Vargas show, said Timothy Aza, 18. "I aspire to play that well."

The mariachi opening act, Mariachi Estrellas de Guadalajara de Rubén Ramos, warmed up the crowd with tender vocals by their female singer. Their swift violin playing uplifted the crowd, and prepared them for what was to come.

Saturday's show, brought by Monterrey Productions, also featured the distinguished Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano. Besides bringing a refined sound, they intermittently lightened the mood with jokes. They were welcomed with plenty of laughter from the audience.

It was a concert that had something for everyone.

"I've never seen so many great mariachi groups at the same time like this," said Jesse Lara, who traveled from Dixon to Stockton for the show. "It's very lively and it lifts up your spirit."