Proud, sensuous and passionate, the music of mariachi groups is distinctly Mexican in origin and character, and yet universal in the way it is enjoyed by people all over the world. Although a working knowledge of Spanish is required to understand the dark humour and shamelessly fatalistic tendencies of the lyrics, the music itself, with its wailing violins and majestic trumpets, always leaves you pining for more. Mariachi Vargas was founded in 1898 by Gaspar Vargas and Manuel Mendoza in the village of Tecalitlán, Jalisco, and has continued to go strong since then, as the members who pass away or leave are replaced by new, consummate players. In 1937, the ensemble appeared in Así Es Mi Tierra, the first of about 200 movies they eventually starred in. They also recorded countless LPs embracing a variety of musical styles and dances. Vargas has also accompanied every singer of importance within the movement, including Juan Gabriel, a Mexican pop star who...
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