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Photo and Audio Tour of Detroit’s Mexicantown

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.


“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.”


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.


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


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

Hill Auditorium Trivia Night

WHAT IS IT: Throughout the current season, UMS celebrates our centenary season in Hill Auditorium, a building incredible not only due to its rich history and acoustics, but also because of the role it plays in the cultural vibrancy of the entire state.

So, UMS, WDET and Arbor Brewing Company invite you to join us for an evening of Hill Auditorium trivia and music!

With trivia hosted by Great Lakes Trivia Company, music by WDET’s Rob Reinhart the night will be a fun-filled trivia and music adventure. PLUS, Craig Fahle, WDET host of the Craig Fahle Show and his team will be there… Are you ready to get in the ring and test your trivia strength against Craig and his team?

WHEN: Monday, September 24, 7PM at Arbor Brewing Company. Please note: cash bar.


  • Winning team: one pair of tickets to two UMS events of your choosing this season for each team member (subject to availability)
  • Runners-up team: one pair of tickets to one UMS event of your choosing for each team member (subject to availability)
  • And plenty of other goodies: gift certificates & WDET, ABC, and UMS goodies throughout the evening.

TEST YOUR SKILLS: Convenient quiz to help you determine how ready you are for trivia night:

How Ready Are You for Hill Auditorium Trivia? » online quizzes

Video: Behind the scenes with Mariachi Vargas at WDET Detroit

Here’s a special behind-the-scenes video of the Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan artist residency.  Yesterday, Alberto Alfaro (violinist in Mariachi Vargas) accompanied two youth Mariachi singers, Sebastien de la Cruz and Karenn Lazo (both were winners in the 2009 Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza Competition) on the Craig Fahle radio show on WDET 101.9 FM Detroit.  Sebastien and Karenn will sing this morning at Hil Auditorium in a special youth performance for K-12 students from Southeastern Michigan.  I highly recommend scanning forward to about 1:30 in the video to hear Sebastien sing — he’s amazing!  Also, don’t miss Karenn’s performance at the end of the video, which is equally stunning.