Mariachi brings fiesta spirit to Hop

The Dartmouth


"Even if you don't understand what we sing, we sing with heart." Said during a post-performance discussion by Nati Cano - founder of "Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano" - this sentiment aptly describes Tuesday evening's performance by the Los Angeles-based mariachi band. Although the lyrics were entirely in Spanish, the group charmed the audience in Spaulding Auditorium at the Hopkins Center with their brassy renditions of popular Mexican and Spanish ballads.

The ensemble, donning full mariachi regala (think "The Three Caballeros"), consists of four violinists, a harpist, a trumpeter and three guitarists. A pair of dancers accompanied the band's performance, donning bright traditional Mexican attire and acting the part of a bashful young Mexican couple.

The whole performance was reminiscent of a boisterous Cinco de Mayo festival - with a successful blend of easily recognizable popular ballads, such as "La Bamba," and more traditional songs.

Each of the members took a turn serenading amors, rancheros and Mexico with passionate canciones, making their way down aisles in the auditorium to interact with the listeners. With a guitar in hand and a cheeky smile in place, Cano called for members in the crowd to join in with clapping, singing and even hollering. The band's engagement of the audience meshed well with their dynamic style and sound, making the performance unarguably successful.

Although Cano said that some members of "Los Camperos" have not had classical training, the brassy, clear vocals of the band members matched the caliber of their instrumental virtuoso. The beautiful violin and vocal solos were the highlight of the performance, taking listeners to a pastoral Mexican ranch.

The performance primarily drew an audience from the Hanover community, which partook in the fiesta with enthusiasm, even calling for an encore - "¡Otra!" - which the ensemble happily indulged.

Since its creation in the 1960s, "Los Camperos" has become one of the most renowned mariachi bands in the United States, with nine albums released, three Grammy nominations and two wins. Given their appeal to a broad range of audiences from die-hard mariachi fans to complete newcomers, it's easy to see why.