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Mariachi Flor de Toloache blows away Guadalajara!

A wild and wonderful night at one of Guadalajara’s top venues with the Latin Grammy winning, Grammy-nominated Flor de Toloache.

I took a team from the Lakeside News/Semanario Laguna organization in Ajijic to Guadalajara (about an hour drive) Wednesday night to see Flor de Toloache at the C3 Rooftop, one of Guadalajara’s most popular music venues. The all-female mariachi band played an unforgettable concert that had everyone cheering and clapping and singing and even dancing.  The energy in the room was electric.

In short, they blew away the crowd at the C3 Rooftop.

Adding to the excitement in the room was the presence of members of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, Mexico’s most renowned mariachi group that has been in existence since 1897 and is known for incorporating classical and modern music into their songs – exactly what Flor de Toloache is now doing.

We were well primed by the opening singer, Paolo Mesa, whose clear-as-a-bell voice and shimmering blend of angelic vocals and cosmic electric reverb guitar was mesmerizing. She put us in a mellow mood while the crowd thickened, awaiting the main act

Paola Mesa opening for Flor de Toloache at the C3 Rooftop

When Flor de Toloache – “Las Flores”,  as their fans affectionately call the band named after a love potion flower – emerged from the back of the hall and worked their way through the crowd , greeting fans and well-wishers, and mounted the stage bathed in a deep blue light, it was obvious they were having as much fun as the audience. Smiling and laughing, the band kicked off the night with a trumpet-led, vihuela -strumming, high energy song in Spanish and English, practically sweating joy. They continued non-stop with song after song, danced a little, and got everyone to sing along and even dance.. This was not a performance to be enjoyed quietly – it was wild and wonderful.  

We got there early enough to set up our cameras in a great position to shoot closeups of the group (see videos on my YouTube page at . In fact, the only people ahead of us in line were four highly venerated members of Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. They were there to show their support and appreciation for Flor de Toloache, who they have praised as the future of mariachi music.

As the night went on, the band played some of their hit songs and classics  and even did some blues. Each song they played had the special flavor that only Flor de Toloache can deliver, and apparently the audience craved because they were singing along. Part of the night’s magic was the trumpet – trumpets are always an important part of mariachi, but with only four musicians, the trumpet was especially powerful – it never got lost and added a red hot color to every song, even the blues!

After the music, the band came out and gathered with fans, saying hi to friends and shooting selfies and photos. We were able to join them briefly at the bar as they sipped tequila for a few questions shouted over the din of dozens of fans gathered around us. Here is that conversation, starting with co-founder Shae Fiol:

Patrick.  Are you pioneers?

Shae Fiol. We are. We are the first in New York in mariachi. We also write our own songs – we have about 30 songs now. This last album was all written originally. Mariachi is kind of like jazz  – there are a lot of standards  but there is also room for originality and new songs.  Particularly for women – these are our stories. There are not a lot of women in mariachi so we are trying to encourage women to write their own songs. We are not mariachi pioneers – we are pioneers in a different way; the pioneers of mariachi are here tonight – Mariachi Vargas – a mariachi group that is over 120 years old.

Patrick. Will you be at the International Mariachi Festival in Guadalajara?

Shae. We were here at the festival in 2018. There were mariachis from all over the world. We even  jammed with a Columbian mariachi. We hope to come back.

Patrick. What was going on your head on stage.

Shae.  We were excited to see all these people coming out, especially for our kind of music.  It was a big night – we had no idea it would be this big. We were so honored to see Mariachi Vargas here tonight. We just brought it.  It was intimidating and exciting and such an honor to bring our New York style of mariachi here to Guadalajara and see them enjoy it

Comments from founder Mireya I. Ramos:

Patrick: How does it feel to be playing Mexico, in Jalisco, the home of mariachi?

Mireya. Every time I come to Mexico it is an honor to be here – it is part of my roots. And it is nerve racking because our concerts are alternative mariachi and there is tradition, so we are nervous about that. But people love to hear their music being celebrated and valued.

Patrick:  The trumpet was very strong tonight. Do you work to make that happen?

Mireya. We worked to bring it forward tonight. In mariachi, the trumpet is always important – people think of trumpets in mariachi, but they do not usually think of women on the trumpet.  So, we worked bring it in so strongly with a woman playing. And we did.  

Patrick: There are now many mariachis with women or that are all women Do you feel like a pioneer?

Mireya.  Absolutely. We like to think we have contributed to the women’s movement in mariachi. We feel we inspired a lot of women to feel free, to feel empowered to be mariachis and to and share their perception the music which is very meaningful.

Patrick:  Have we reached the point where women in mariachi are no longer a big deal?

Mireya. We have not, but we will.

Yes, they will, with Las Flores  leading the way because they have been shaking up the mariachi world since 2008 taking  traditional mariachi music, with its roots here in Jalisco, and infusing  it with influences from jazz, blues, hip-hop, and even classical music in a way that no one else has come close to. They call their latest album, Motherflower, “a mosaic of genres inspired by the mariachi sound, “with a feminist charge like never before, like a multiverse of music and melody, past, present and future, with a extraordinary feminist brilliance”.

Wednesday night showed off this level of innovation, with English and Spanish, genre-mixing, and stepped up arrangements. Not surprising for a band that has collaborated with John Legend, Las Migras, and Alex Cuba, among others.  And not surprising for a band that been awarded a Latin Grammy for their album Las Caras Lindas in 2017,  been nominated for a Latin Grammy and a Grammy  for  their album “Indestructible” and the song  “Besos de Mezcal”  for the album Mariachi Flor de Toloache in 2015.

I wish we could have followed the rest of the tour which includes Mexico City and Monterrey, but by the time you read this they will be back home in New York City.  It was a joy to see and hear them, a delight to talk with them and you can bet we will suggest strongly that they return – there is much love here for the band named after the love potion flower. In the meantime, join us streaming their albums.

Patrick O’Heffernan



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About Patrick O'Heffernan, Music Sin Fronteras (442 Articles)
Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist based in Mexico, with a global following. He focuses on music in English and Spanish that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America, especially Mexico like cumbia, banda, son jarocho, and mariachi. He is also edits a local news website and is a subeditor of a local Spanish language newspaper. Check out his weekly column Music Sin Frontera on Sunday nights.

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