The 11-piece band, which is made up of some Tucson townies and some of Mendoza's fellow Calexico cohorts, has drawn exceedingly well at the Rialto, Tucson's answer to the Marquee Theatre, so this was a smaller show for them. It wasn't quite a sell-out, but an impressive Thursday crowd, boasting an inordinately large number of men in fanciful hats, was unquestionably grooving to songs like "Mambo No. 8."
I was a little concerned about how the band, which at times included three trumpeters and two saxophonists along with two percussionists, a guitarist, a bassist and Sergio's right-hand man, Salvador Duran, who also sings and tap-dances (!) would fit on the stage. I should have known better: looking "cramped" on stage is not graceful or classy, and everything this band does is graceful or classy. So, however they did it, all 11 guys in the band looked comfortable.
Like I said, I didn't understand anything the band said, but, as the night went on I found myself doing what all the other Anglos in the crowd were doing, which is yell "wooooo" after anything Sergio said in Spanish. Like those Russian teenagers, I had a hell of a time doing it.
Last Night: Sergio Mendoza y La Orkesta
Better Than: Shakira... whenever, wherever...
Personal Bias: Ummmm, Anti-Arpaio?
Random Fact: In Spanish class I always went by "Manuel" instead of Marteeeeen. I chose this name in honor of Señor Noriega.
Further Listening: "Sombras" gives you a pretty good feel for the music.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.