UMS

Photo and Audio Tour of Detroit’s Mexicantown

By UMS Lobby

Editor’s note: The Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán return to Ann Arbor on April 1, 2016.

Mariachi Vargas is one of the most highly regarded ensembles in the history of mariachi. Founded in a small city near Jalisco by Don Gaspar Vargas in the 1890s, this band basically invented the modern mariachi, and five generations later, is still playing today.

To explore the music’s connection to our community, we asked WDET’s Martina Guzmán to give us a tour of Detroit’s Mexicantown, a neighborhood with over 100 years of history in the city. Check out the tour below, with images by Detroit-based photographer Erik Howard.

We also visited the LA SED (Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development) Senior Center in the neighborhood, where we heard many stories about the community importance of mariachi music.

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“I was born and raised through Mariachis,” Lupe Guzmán says. “Don’t believe what I say, but Mariachi music is like medicine. Mariachi…you have one on side and another Mariachi on the other side, and they make you alive.”

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Beatrice Gonzales was a singer when she was younger. She bought the dress in this photo in Mexico 35 years ago. She says that she is still in love with the tradition of Mariachis.

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Arnulfo Guiterrez’ favorite song is “El Mariachi Loco.” It’s a LA SED Senior Center favorite for dancing.

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UMS thanks AARP for coordinating ticketing and transportation for a group of LA SED seniors to attend the Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán performance.

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