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Mexican Independence Day- Sept 16!

Happy Los Niños Héroes day, everyone. It’s now time to get ready for Mexican Independence Day! Mexican flags fly freely, festivals and parties are enjoyed by many, and the history of Mexico is remembered.

Before Mexican Independence, Spain ruled over, limiting trade routes and appointing Spaniards to colonial posts in Mexico. Encouraged by the USA winning its freedom a few decades earlier, Mexico was inspired. During Napoleon’s invasion of Spain and the imprisonment of Ferdinand VII (1808), the rebels in Mexico and South America began setting up their own form of government while still claiming loyalty to Spain.

Conspiracies against the Spanish crown began, but nearly a month before the plan was set to take place, it began to unravel. Conspirators were being round up when the plan was found out. Father Miguel Hidalgo (one of the conspiracy leaders) heads of the news and that the Spanish were coming to get him next. In the town of Dolores on September 16th, Hidalgo went to the pulpit to announce he was taking up arms against the Spanish government, inviting those around him to join. His speech, “El Grito de Dolores,” is still remembered today and it lead to the creation of an unruly, poorly armed but determined mob.

Hidalgo and military man Ignacio Allende led the army towards Mexico City, laying siege to Guanajuato and fighting off the Spanish at the Battle of Monte de las Cruces. The army kept getting larger and by the time they arrived at the city, the army was large enough to accomplish their goals. Despite the size and dedication of the army, Hidalgo retreated, possibly in feat of the Spanish army reinforcing the city.

January 1811, Hidalgo and Allende attempted to retreat during the Battle of Calderon because of the well trained small Spanish army. Both men were put to death in June and July of 1811 and many of the rebel leaders involved were captured. At this point, it looked like Spain would retain control over Mexico. José María Morelos (captain of Hidalgo) continued the fight until he, too, was captured and executed in 1815.His lieutenant succeeded him (Vicente Guerro) with the help of Guadalupe Victoria, who fought until 1821 at which time they decided on an agreement with turncoat royal officer Agustín de Iturbide, leading to the liberation of Mexico in September 1821.

Knowing the history behind this holiday is important because knowing why you’re celebrating makes it all the more meaningful. So many people lose sight of how their country gained independence. In Mexico, mayors and politicians re-enact the Grito de Dolores speech. On September 15thin Mexico City, people congregate to hear the President ring the bell Hidalgo rang and the recitation of Hidalgo’s speech and fireworks go off. Throughout the rest of Mexico, people celebrate with parties, parades, dances, and festivals. Families spend time together, placing Mexican flags throughout their home, and feast. Food is often made in the colors of the flag: red, white, and green, much like how Americans celebrate July 4th. Those not living in Mexico still celebrate the independence day of their home country and some cities outside of Mexico still have large celebrations.

Celebrate Mexican Independence day with a Mariachi group, great food, and a love of the country. Even if you’re not from Mexico, celebrate anyway because freedom is what we all strive for. Call us today.

 
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Los Niños Héroes- Heroic Children of the Mexican-American War

September 13th marks the anniversary of the Battle of Chapultepec in 1847. The Castle Chapultepec served as Mexico’s military training academy before the Mexican-American war. Young cadets trained at the castle and despite the geographic advantage of being 200 feet above much of the surrounding landscape (natural fortification), the American troops outnumbered forces at Chapultepec in number and gun power due to lack of resources at the castle. Despite the “victory” of American soldiers in this battle, many Americans (Abraham Lincoln and John Quincy Adams) felt there was little to no rational to attack.

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (of the Mexico City forces) recognized the strategic advantage Chapultepec castle could have, but lack of resources and manpower eventually was the largest pitfall. General Nicolas Bravo commanded the forces at the castle to evacuate upon the attack of American troops. Despite orders, six young men refused to leave and faced the Americans. These men ranged from 13 to 19 years old, young children by today’s standards (and still fairly young at their time of death. Their names were Juan de la Barrera, Juan Escutia, Francisco Marquez, Agustin Melgar, Fernando Montes de Oca, and Vicente Suarex. It is thought that Juan Escutia wrapped himself in a Mexican flab before jumping to his death, which is now a mural at the castle. These men live on in memory today at the memorial in the Chapultepec Park in Mexico City and they remain impressive and interesting figures in Mexico’s history. Schools, roads, and public squares have been named after these 6 heroes, using names or the collective title “Ninos Heroes.”

At the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Chapultepec, Harry S. Truman (president at the time) visited the monument and insisted upon a moment of silence to honor and respect the six cadets. When asked why Truman felt went to the monument, he stated “Brave men don’t belong to any one country. I respect bravery wherever I see it,” showing that Americans and Mexicans can agree that bravery is to be respected and that not all Americans support every war.

Why are we talking about this today? Well, you could celebrate this year’s Los Niños Héroes anniversary in Mexico, or you could celebrate with family and friends and honor the lives of those who died in the Mexican-American War. Help keep Mexican culture alive by hiring a Mariachi group for a mini-festival before Mexican Independence day. If that’s not your thing, wait a few extra days and celebrate Mexican Independence day knowing a little more about the wars and battles before the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Freedom needs to be fought for, and unfortunately that means lives may need to be sacrificed. Celebrate for those who could not. Hiring a Mariachi band will just make it more fun and give the little cultural pop a great festival needs.

 
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The Mexican Hat Dance!

The Mexican Hat Dance is well known throughout the world as the national folk song of Mexico. Most of the time when people are asked to name a song related to Mexico, this song is recalled (along with songs like “La Cucaracha”). Popularity of this song and dance came from Anna Pavlova from Russia. This ballerina visited Mexico in 1919 and was so enthralled and passionate about the culture and costumes that she began performing the dance now performed throughout Mexico in the on pointe style while wearing a China Poblana outfit. Mexican culture embraced this with honor and placed it in permanent importance in the culture. The dance was created during the revolution at the beginning of the 1900’s to encourage national unity. The Jarabe style of dance in which the Mexican Hat Dance thrives is a combination of different styles of dance and song.

Costumes for men and women were not created simultaneously. The “standard” outfits worn for this style of song and dance hail from the 1800’s servant outfit (China Poblana) worn by the women and the charro suit worn by men during the 1930 emergence of Mariachi. Different combinations have been utilized throughout the history of the dance, but today it features a mixture of time periods, much like the style of music and dance this wonderful experience utilizes.

This style does not need to be performed by a set number of people. A solo performer is just as welcome to dance in this way as a large group at a party, however, the styles differ.

  • Pair or group: Performers stand with their feet together and their arms by the sides. The partners move in circles around one another while performing various arm movements. Upon completion of the routine “olé” is exclaimed. Even when done in a group, pairing off occurs with little variance between one couple or several dancing at once. Young and old alike can learn and love this style.
  • Solo: A hat is thrown on the floor, hence the name, (and unlike the group or pair dancing) and the dancer jumps around the hat while only touching the rim slightly with one foot. Hands are held in fists and placed at the side of the body near the waist. Steps are performed in one direction and then the other, switching the foot which touched the hat previously. Much like the group/partner performance, the dancer will exclaim “olé” and a clap.

Contact Mariachi Alegre De Tucson for your next big party and when the Mexican Hat Dance is performed all guest will get excited to perform and watch this traditionally wonderfully fun dance. Who knows? Maybe some of our Mariachi members will grab you by the hand and teach you the dance personally. Embracing the Mexican culture and pride is only one way to make a party one to remember!

 

 
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Quinceañera and Mariachi

An honoree and her damas (maiden attendants)

As many of you already know, the quinceañera is the biggest event for a young Latina/Hispanic girl, until her wedding day that is. Upon reaching the age of 15, a family will celebrate a young girls’ “coming of age,” allowing her to look, act, feel, and be treated like a fairy tale princess for an afternoon. Friends and family join to celebrate the young woman much like Americans celebrate “Sweet 16.”

Based on various old traditions (including Aztec ceremonies demonstrating readiness for marriage combined with Catholicism), the 15 year olds attend a Mass ceremony specially conducted for Quinceañeras. Initially, this elaborate ceremony was only held for girls from wealthier families but the trend of all Hispanic girls having a Quinceañera exploded in the US (and spread back to the areas of origin) to hold onto cultural identity.

Quinceañeras come in two parts: mass and the party. The Mass is often held with various girls celebrating their 15th year to save time, space, and number of services provided—much like baptisms. Girls are blessed by the priest and recommit themselves to their spiritual devotion (including placing a bouquet of flowers at the statue of the Virgin Mary). One symbol of entering adulthood is seen when the girl gives a porcelain doll (or other childhood toy) to a younger sister or other younger girl in her family. During the mass there is a chance of Mariachi groups playing music, though the main event where music is needed is the party! However, some churches discourage large parties so as not to draw attention to the real purpose of the Quinceañera, the entering into adulthood with the help and respect of the church.

As important and beautiful as the mass ceremony is, everyone gets excited for the party. Depending on income, these parties can be very large and lavish, but even on a budget they are fun and an amazing experience for the honoree—especially when the whole family and community help out (serving as madrinas and padrinos, like godparents). Not all families have had these parties in the past due to budget, but they are still held after most Quinceañera masses. Before the end of the party, the honoree’s father will remove the modest flats she went to mass and entered the party in and he will place high-heeled shoes on her feet to symbolize her entrance into womanhood.

What better way to embrace your heritage than to hire a skilled Mariachi group for your daughter’s Quinceañera? We can’t think of a better way. Our professional performers can play for both the mass and the party (and will discuss with the priests beforehand to ensure the proper music list). We are known for interacting with our guests instead of just acting as a human radio. Keep tradition alive and hire us for your next event—especially such a special night as a young girl’s transition into adulthood. She will never forget all of the fun she has dancing to the music of her ancestry.

Click the image to check out more information on trends for this style of event.

 
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You Get What You Pay For!

mariachi alegre de tucson az 2013Like any profession, Mariachi Alegre do Tucson is a business. We have bills to pay and families to feed, just like anyone else. This is why haggling can be damaging to our business. This is not to say we overcharge or anything, we just know what our time and quality is worth. Our rates for your entertainment are not extreme and we promise we are not trying to rip you off. Just remember, if you want quality you have to pay for it.

People often ask questions like “Why can’t you play for free?” Or “Are you sure you can’t do it for $40 less?” Our rates have increased, but that is partly due to inflation. Thirty years ago we charged a base rate of $160, but with the inflation of the dollar as well as the prices for gas, food, materials, instruments, and more, we had no choice but to raise our prices a little. For a one hour performance our mariachi are making $50 per member. This is includes the half-hour or more for preparation (not counting rehearsal of our repertoire and maintaining instruments, clothing, etc) and at least half an hour for travel. This is why we charge extra for out of town gigs to account for the extra travel time and cost. If you are in town, we usually do not charge for travel, so the gas and travel time are coming out of our wallets.

In the beginning we donated our time to a Catholic Church for 10 years, free of charge. This helped us gain a reputation for our quality and kindness. Periodically we will play certain functions (like carnivals, church fiestas, and civic functions) for more exposure and publicity, but with our experience it only makes sense for us to take a step back to let new groups have their chance to gain some notoriety performing for little to no money. Asking anyone to perform a service free (especially when it’s their career) can be harmful. Would you ask a doctor to perform a surgery for free? Would you do your job for free regularly? Would you ask your grocery clerk for a free cart of groceries—and mean it? Think about that the next time you try to haggle for free entertainment.Capture

What makes us different from juvenile groups? Why are we worth the payment we are asking? Here’s why!

  1. Experience: Our extensive repertoire coupled with our professional quality means you are always getting your money’s worth. Our performers can read a crowd and are willing to take photos, participate closely with guest, and know when to stand-off.
  2. Cheaper isn’t always better: If you are paying less for a Mariachi group, they may take advantage of that and take extra breaks, stop in the middle of the agreed upon performance time to tune, or try to slack off and eat the food and drink the beverages for your guests (regardless of previous instructions). The mentality for this thinking is “I’m not getting paid what I’m worth, so I’ll do what I think is worth the pay.”
  3. Punctuality: For 40 years we have taken pride in our quality as well as punctuality. When the entertainment is late the entire party suffers! If we aren’t early, we’re late!
  4. Time Killing: This concept can ruin a party. We know how to make sure the client gets their money’s worth from us and our entire performance is meaningful and heartfelt. We aim to please.
  5. Good business practices: We make a concerted effort to answer all calls, voice mails, and messages regarding bookings. We follow-up on inquiries for potential business, and we will contact clients to offer our thanks and gratitude for being hired. We understand that a little bit goes a long way and we want you to feel like friends and family. We are professional and respectful to everyone.

After reading this, I’m sure you are a little more interested in hiring us. Contact George Mejarano for more information, booking inquiries, or to let us know a performance was not to your expectations. We will always try to make it right so you leave satisfied with our services. Our Mariachi perform for various events, including: birthdays, anniversaries, quinceneras, serenatas, weddings, and funerals. Great entertainment comes at a price, but don’t fall victim of paying the price of a terrible performance!

 

 

 
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Mariachi Alegre de Tucson Reviews!

On Weddingwire.com, Mariachi Alegre de Tucson has received an average of 5.0/5.0 stars! The lowest scoring in any section was a 4.5, while still maintaining a 4.9 average for that customer. WeddingWire even awarded us the Couples Choice Award for 2013. Other sites boast high reviews for our groups as well, often with individual scored of 5/5 stars! One reviewer even suggested that they wouldn’t mind having our group follow them around in the grocery store performing! There are not enough opportunities for a Mariachi group for some people.

CaptureOne of the biggest compliments clients have given to our Mariachi group is the song selection. Clients love our ability to play songs requested by guests due to our huge repertoire. One client even marveled at our ability to learn a specific song not in our collection (when given due notice). Across the board the vocal abilities and general music quality is complimented in reviews.

Another major complimented area of our expertise is the affordability. Various clients stated our low cost coupled with high professionalism. We strive for professionalism alongside our punctuality and highly skilled musicians. Hiring us means you will not blow your budget on the best Mariachi group around. You’ll get the best for the best price.

Many reviews state how well our Mariachi kept parties going, livened up the event, and made all guests happy. Our performers are enthusiastic, funny, and will often times engage with guests, making it fun for everyone. When the band is part of the party, everyone feels more connected, guests feel as if they are part of the music and the music is part of the party. Weddings are boring when the music is just in the background. With our Mariachi, your party will be remembered by every guest for years to come due to the dedication of our performers and their genuine concern for the wellbeing and happiness of every guest. Guest cannot help but dance and have fun when our Mariachi is around!

In many of the reviews, it is stated that the clients would love to rehire Mariachi Alegre de Tucson and that many guests requested the information of our group to hire them in the future.

Weddings are wonderful for Mariachi performances, but that is by no means the only time to hire them. Many reviews are for random parties, weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays! Our involvement with guests and our vast array of songs helps us keep our clients happy and the party rocking! Call us today for all of your celebration entertainment needs to make sure everyone has a wonderful time! Hurry, we can sometimes to last minute gigs, but if you want to guarantee our attendance, time is of the essence.

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Dia de los Muertos: The Day of the Dead

Halloween for Americans is fast approaching. Dia de los Muertos is observed around the same time and is often compared to Halloween and related holidays. This day is a much bigger deal in Mexico than Halloween is in the States. The deep tradition include building private alters to honor the deceased with intricate designs of sugar skulls, marigolds, and the placement of personal possessions of the deceased. The Latin-American custom combines ancient Aztec rituals with Catholicism (from the Spanish invasions).

Unlike holidays relating to death throughout much of the Western World, Dia de los Muertos is truly a celebration. Those celebrating are positive that the deceased would view mourning or sadness as an insult because life should be celebrated since death is just a part of life so it is nothing to be upset about. The dead are considered part of the community during the celebration of Dia de los Muertos. It is thought that the loved ones who have passed are just as present as those alive walking down the streets and they have awakened from their eternal sleep once more to share the experience with their loved ones. Parades are held and participants wear bright colors and intricate face paintings. Flowers are worn and involved in alters with decorations sitting alongside skull-painted faces and statuettes of happy, dancing, singing skeletons. Skeletons and skull decorations (known as calacas and Calaveras) are found everywhere during the celebration and are often seen enjoying life! They sing and dance and smile. It is not a somber occasion—it’s a celebration of the lives of those who have passed on. More cultures need to adopt this view on death.

In the US, some elements of the Dia de los Muertos celebration are found in popular culture. Many people are getting sugar skull tattoos or they are decorating things in their home with sugar skulls and dressing up as a calacas or calavera for Halloween.

Mariachi is involved in Dia de los Muertos just like they would be for any other celebration and holiday. Sometimes spun-sugar mariachi musicians (in skeleton form) are found as treats during the holiday— representing the need to balance death with happiness. Native dancers and performers participate in the celebrations on this day, meaning it’s yet another opportunity to hire Mariachi performers to make the day one to remember. Musicians perform at cemeteries, parades, and festivals throughout this holiday so who better than a traditional Mariachi?

If you’re looking for a way to honor the dead, or a way to celebrate life and living, contact Mariachi Alegre De Tucson today. Hurry, because Dia de los Muertos will be here before you know it! We also do quinceneras, weddings, funerals, and more.

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Mariachi Clothing and Popularity (History Pt 2)

Since the 1930’s, the Mariachi outfits consisted of a short cut jacket and wool boot-cut pants to allow the wearer to don riding boots. Often the outfit is black with white or gold trim, but can be seen with red coats or pants as well as other various colors. This ensemble is called a traje de charro. Previous outfits were called calzones de manta and huaraches. These outfits were white cotton pants and shirts with leather sandals. This was meant to resemble and represent the clothing lowest class in Jaliso wore.

  • An example of a traje de charro

    Traje: The custom tailored suit worn by Mariachi members.

  • Plata: This is the silver or gold plated adornments throughout the coat and the pants or skirt of the outfit.
  • Greca: Greca is another style of adornment. It entails fancy stitching.

The colors of traje de charro outfits today vary, but Mariachi Allegra ensures the authenticity of the outfits by having them custom made in Mexico.

Some examples of greca patterns.

Mariachi was not always as popular as it is today. Due to this style being the music of the country people, they were not considered professional until the 1930’s and the slight variances in styles stayed in their respective regions. Before the 1930’s a Mariachi was asked to play a presidential inauguration in Mexico City and after that, the Mariachi was considered significantly more professional.

The Mariaci Vargas became one of the most famous and trail blazing Mariachi thanks to Silvestre Vargas (the successor of his father) beginning in 1928. He began a type of standardization of Mariachi. He made sure all of the performers could read sheet music and composed many sones. Due to this standardization and increased professionalism Mariachi Vargas began performing for radio and film with added instruments and a set of general guidelines to follow, Mariachi Vargas helped bring Mariachi to the spotlight.

Today and in the earlier days, Mariachi plays at various occasions. For instances of courtship, Mariachi will play serenatas (translation: serenade) in situations where a young male seeks the affection of a young female but they are not allowed to see one another. In this circumstance, the male will hire Mariachi to send a message of love to his sweetheart. On days of celebrations multiple Mariachis will be placed throughout the streets, often below windows of citizens the celebration involves, to play music.

In the Mexican tradition, Marichi is heavily involved in the Roman Catholic Church Mass service. A Mariachi folk mass (Misa Panamericana) is sung in Spanish and uses traditional Mariachi instruments to interpret the service. This idea began in 1966 by the Canadian priest Father Juan Marco Leclerc and it took off and is now very common throughout the US and Mexico.

Other events Mariachi plays at include: baptisms, weddings, quinceaneras, funerals, and patriotic holidays.

Call Mariachi Allegra de Tucson today to schedule a wonderful Marichi for your celebratory needs! Summer is the perfect time to get this historic and beautiful sounding group to play for your parties and celebrations! No event is too big or too small for us to make it memorable!

 
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How Did Mariachi Come To Be? (History Pt 1)

The Christian influence upon Mexico changed the music traditions. Cortes and the Christians brought stringed instruments, horns, and woodwinds. With this influence, the mestizo musicians began using the new instruments as well as making their own, leading to theatrical Spanish orchestra between the 16th and 18th centuries which consisted of 2 violins, a hard, and guitars.

Many people argue that the word mariachi derives from the French word for marriage. This theory states that the Mexican emperor Maximillian brought with him the French language. Because Mariachi bands often play at weddings, many feel this is an accurate word-history, however, linguists have found evidence of the word mariachi being in use well before the French invasions. It is more likely the word derives from the name of the type of wood used to make the dance platforms used when the bands perform.

Mariachi as it is known today goes back to the 18th. Similar styles of groups formed in Huasteca and Veracruz, but it is thought that the Mariachi began in Jalisco. In Cocula (a town in Jalisco), the instruments were the vihuela, violins, and a guitar.

Mariachi music, or “sones,” are mixes of traditional Spanish, Mexican, and African music.

Style (Location)                                                            Son
Son Jalisciense(Jalisco)                                              La Negra
Son jarocho/veracruzano
(Gulf of Veracruz)        La Bamba
Son huasteco/huapango (Northeast Mexico)        La Malagueñ a

Note: El Gusto and some other sones are found throughout different regions, suggesting a common ancestor, much like with language.

The Mariachi culture has created many unusual instruments with the Christian influences. Below are some examples of instruments they used alongside the familiar guitars, harps, and trumpets. All of the instruments together provide a wide variety of sounds with high and low tones and changes in rhythm.

  • Vihuela- very similar to a lute and guitar and used for rhythm.
  • Guitarró- a bass guitar of sorts.
  • Mexican folk harp- used for additional bass lines along with being utilized for the melody.

Mariachi is meant to be danced to! You can hardly stand still while listening to this fantastic music. There are two main styles of mariachi dancing you are probably familiar with. Zapateado resembles the Irish Riverdance style, with driving heels of boots into the platform at high speeds to the rhythm of the music. This, unfortunately, will destroy the platforms due to the high impact and forceful pounding. The style called huapango will remind you of a line dance mixed with riverdance. Much like a line dance, partners line up in rows but like riverdance, the only part of their bodies that move are below the waist. The dancers’ torsos are so still and balanced that items are often placed on their heads while they dance to show the muscle control and balance this takes. The jarabe style of dance and music is a combination of different music and performance. From this style we get the best known dance related to mariachi- The Mexican Hat Dance! Based in Guadalajara, it is now considered the official dance of Mexico. Overall, the sones depict the farming cultural life of Mexico and therefore the dance moves and music tell those stories.

Next week we will discuss the history of mariachi group clothing and some important dates throughout the history of mariachi.

 

 

 
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Mariachi: Not just for Quinceañeras anymore!

mariachi-band-tucson-arizonaPicture a Mariachi band in your head. Close your eyes and let your brain recreate the scene where you first saw one perform. It was a joyous event with friends and family laughing and having a great time, I bet. This is what we strive for at Mariachi Alegre de Tucson. Our bands are guaranteed to satisfy your every musical needs for your events.

A Mexican tradition since the 19th century, Mariachi groups represent the celebration of life, change, and masculinity. The themes of their music range from history, love, and even death, meaning there is no event a Mariachi band cannot be asked to perform. Weddings and parties are obviously a cause for celebration, but that does not mean the end of the wonderful life of a loved one should not receive the same treatment. This style of music represents the pivotal points in life and moments of major change, so let the parties begin!

In many cultures, death of a loved one becomes solemn and somber. Chances are, our loved ones would rather be remembered beautifully, than be memorialized through the sadness of a traditional funeral. The celebration of life is just as important—if not more so—than the acknowledgement of their passing. Too many of us focus on churches and dressing in black when thinking about death when we should be keeping those who have passed in our hearts and memories, wishing them luck in a better place.

Mariachi music is a great way to bring and keep people together. In Mexican culture, different generations can usually bond over the traditional music of their heritage, which explains how it has lasted throughout centuries. Furthermore, as stated on our website “the music and spirit of the deceased will continue,” so hiring a Mariachi band makes complete sense, to properly honor our friends and family who grew up with the wonderful traditional music.

Upon hiring Mariachi Alegre De Tucson for any event, including a funeral, you will be paying for a professional band which has been playing for 40 years on behalf of various occasions. We perform at wakes, funerals and burials, as well as the more commonly known reunions, birthdays, weddings, or any other event you can think of. We will treat you and your loved ones (no matter the occasion) with respect, honor, and dignity, and we will be more than happy to make your events memorable and special year round.

Similarly, if you want to honor someone, alive or passed, we offer great prices on our serenatas among our other services.

Pricing, for a 2 hour service package deal:

In town: $450
Out of town: $650 (must be at least 2 hours)

Serenatas:
$235 for 6-8 songs.

Also available for holidays and corporate functions.

For more questions, feel free to contact us at (520) 981-3459.

Also, check out our video library to get a feeling for how we perform and if we are the right fit for your events this summer!

 
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