For over half a century, Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán has been considered the finest mariachi in the world, earning and upholding the title of “El Mejor Mariachi del Mundo.” Founded in 1898, in the southern Jalisco village of Tecalitlán, the group recently celebrated its 116th anniversary. No other mariachi in history has had a trajectory or influence remotely comparable to that of Vargas. Its current generation represents the state of the art in mariachi music—world-class vocalists and instrumentalists, flawless ensemble work, impeccable taste in arrangements and repertoire, and spellbinding showmanship. The group never fails to engage its audience to the maximum, eliciting spontaneous gritos, sing-alongs, and one ovation after another with its heart-wrenching vocals and virtuosic instrumentals.
The official Mariachi Vargas chronology divides the group’s history into five generations: first (1898-1930), second (1931-1949), third (1950-1993), fourth (1994-2002), and fifth (2003-2014). Mariachi Vargas recently inaugurated its sixth generation (2014-present) during the group’s very first San Antonio performance under the leadership of its new musical director, Carlos Martínez. Carlos is a nephew of the ensemble’s previous musical director, José “Pepe” Martínez, and, until recently, was musical director of Guadalajara’s acclaimed Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán.
Mariachi Vargas’ fan base spans the globe. From Canada to Argentina, from Japan to Indonesia, from Spain to the Czech Republic, their music is popular throughout the world, and their recordings include more than 200 solo albums. Their latest CD, Boleros, Baladas y Bachatas, includes a mariachi arrangement of Prince Royce’s bachata “Darte un Beso,” one of the biggest international Latin hits of 2013 and one of the catchiest songs on this CD.