Mariachi Music Brings Festive Flair to Historic Manassas

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By Amy Taylor

If you want to enjoy music with a rich heritage, deep cultural roots, and the ability to make you really feel, mariachi music can bring the party or make you break out the tissues (depending on the song you request). But you don’t have to go all the way to Mexico to enjoy authentic mariachi music; Historic Manassas has an amazing time in store for you.

If you visit Mariachis Tequileria and Restaurant in Historic Manassas on any Friday night, not only will you experience delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine and drinks, you’ll be in for a musical fiesta. Every Friday from 7 to 10 p.m., Mariachis treats all its customers to a free, custom concert.

As you might guess from its name, the restaurant has a regular house mariachi band that plays while people dine and enjoy their drinks. “The guests really love it, and the band will come right up to their table and play whatever song they request for free,” server Jovani Castelan said. The restaurant pays the band so that the guests can enjoy cover-free entertainment, and it’s an all-around good time.

The house band at Mariachis is Mariachi Internacional Guadalajara, a six-piece ensemble out of Stafford. Occasionally other regional bands will fill in if they are booked, but they are a staple of Mariachis, according to Castelan.

Mariachis celebrates Mexican heritage with authentic entertainment and food. The restaurant also holds events like a Mexican Independence Day celebration (in September) and a big block party where Mariachi Internacional Guadalajara plays while guests enjoy food stands, outdoor tequila bars and corn-on-the-cob as they celebrate.

The Origins of Mariachi

Mariachi is more than a century old and sprang from Spanish and mestizo roots, according to David Montgomery of the Washington Post. Montgomery writes, “Thanks to powerful radio stations, Mexican movie idols and immigration, it spread throughout Latin America and also found a foothold in the United States. In the early 1970s, Frito-Lay hijacked a beloved mariachi melody to sell corn chips, while mariachi music and pageantry are threaded through the recent Pixar movie “Coco,” which was nominated for two Academy Awards.”

Much of the music mariachi bands play is based on requests, so they have to know how to play a wide array of songs. Bands can have hundreds of songs in their repertoire to be ready at a minute’s notice when an audience member makes a request.

Mariachi bands typically have two trumpets, a vihuela (small guitar), a guitarrón (big bass guitar) and multiple violins, according to Smithsonian Folkways. “Its repertoire of fast-paced sones, expressive canciones rancheras (“country” songs), polkas, syncopated huapangos, romantic boleros and more has been heard throughout the Americas and around the world,” Smithsonian noted on its website.

If you’d like to enjoy some lively entertainment, check out all the events at Mariachis by visiting mariachimanassas.com. To see videos of Mariachi Internacional Guadalajara or to learn more about booking them for your next event, visit the band’s Facebook page.

Amy Taylor (ataylor@princewilliamliving.com) is a contributing writer for Prince William Living magazine.
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