Along Comes Mariachi

So the boss refused your vacation request for September 10-17, and you have to cram your celebration of Mexico's Independence Week into a single evening? Well, Saturday night's your night, as the Fourth Annual Chandler Mariachi Festival gets loco at the Chandler Center for the Arts. The maracas will shake fast and furious as the showcase of mariachi musicians and folklorico dance groups casts the spotlight on an impressive array of local talent.

Acts taking the stage at the 1,500-seat venue include Mariachi Pasion, an all-female group from Tempe; local group Mariachi Corazon; Folklor Cultura Mexicana, a folklorica dance troupe from Guadalupe; and Ruth Soto, a 14-year-old singer and violinist from Chandler. And imbuing the fest with a "Latino Lilith Fair" kind of vibe, the headliner is Mariachi Mujer 2000 -- a 13-member, all-female group hailing from northern California.

Sponsored by the Chandler Coalition for Civil and Human Rights, the family-friendly event emphasizes education in two ways. First, festival proceeds benefit the Chandler Education Foundation Fund's scholarship program. Second, school-age kids are invited to get into the groove at free folklorico dance and mariachi music workshops conducted at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Classes convene from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, September 12 and 13; the students will then showcase their skills in a performance at Saturday's main event. (Next stop: Menudo auditions!)

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Jill Koch
Contact: Jill Koch