Mariachi de Brown, Brown's — and Rhode Island's — only mariachi group, has been gaining popularity both on and off campus this semester, with 100 Facebook fans, gigs at a local restaurant and appearances at campus events.
Undergraduates with a love for Mexican heritage and mariachi music formed Mariachi de Brown in 2005, according to Rafael Chaiken '11, co-director and publicity coordinator for the group. Chaiken is also a contributing writer and designer for The Herald.
The band is usually a fifteen-man ensemble, but the number fluctuates, in part because the group is always recruiting, Chaiken said. Featured instruments are violin, guitar, guitarron, trumpet, saxophone and vihuela alongside vocals. The flute also makes an occasional appearance, according to Chaiken.
Though the group was formed around Mexican culture and heritage, it now has members of mixed heritage, said Chaiken.
In the past, Mariachi de Brown typically had gigs at Machado House for special events like Dia de los Muertos, played twice a year for Mezcla shows and played for Brown International Organization events.
The group also offers serenade services every year on Valentine's Day. For $15, you can hire the group to sing a mariachi serenade for your sweetheart.
Chaiken said the group has been especially busy this year, with "Mari-archi" performances at arch sings, a homecoming alumni event and downtown restaurant Mexico Garibaldi. "The Facebook page is growing pretty quickly," Chaiken said.
Amy Lehrburger '10.5 recently hired Mariachi de Brown for a private party. "They were the hit," she said.
"They were really enthusiastic," Lehrburger added. "Their style was perfect, obviously. The lead vocalist was phenomenal."
Gina Chen '11, violinist, said she expects the ensemble's activity to continue. Though worried about next year, since many members are seniors, she expects to continue playing next year because she is enrolled in the Program in Liberal Medical Education, she said.
Chen joined the group as a sophomore because she played violin and "wanted something a little less formal" than orchestra. Mariachi de Brown was "completely different from anything else," she said, "and the people are fantastic."
Mariachi de Brown has typically performed traditional Mexican songs, but recently performed a mariachi version of "Bad Romance," according to Chaiken. He added that the group aims to have high musical standards but still be casual and non-bureaucratic.