If El Mariachi Los Dorados charro suits look uncomfortable, well, it’s because they are.
“The pants are a little bit tight, but that is part of the tradition as well. The outfits are meant to accentuate the male body. One of the guys in the group, his pants are so tight because he didn’t get measured when we got custom fitted suits and he has a bit of trouble walking,” laughs Diego Kohl, guitarron (bass) player for Los Dorados. “The suits can get pretty hot, but that is how it goes when you are in Mexico playing in 100 degrees. The sombrero helps and we are all about the sombrero. Some groups seemed concerned about their hair and after a song will take it off, but not us.”
Mariachi lyrics speak about many things including love, revolution, the scenic beauty of Mexico and, of course, machismo. Yet, this Canadian/Mexican mariachi band has a woman as one of the members. Yamila Gonzales has joined Los Dorados to not only sing, but bring some stage presence.
“We wanted to bring it as a new element for audiences and a nice surprise. It is kind of unusual if you look at some of the really big groups as it is more of a genre for guys. She has been a great addition to the band because her thing is singing and entertaining. A lot of the big groups in Mexico and the U.S. don’t really say or interact much with the audience. We want their experience to be fun, entertaining and interactive,” said Kohl.
So Los Dorados especially likes it if audiences dance in their seats, sing along or even scream out a grito (the “aaayyyeee” done during musical interludes). Kohl said the band has found audiences in the South Okanagan seem to be real mariachi lovers as lots of the residents have been to Mexico and can relate with the stories and the music. Having the experience of being born in Mexico and now living in Canada has helped Kohl write his newest song, Ajijic Guapango.
“I have been feeling that in the current climate down in Mexico I wanted to add something postive to some of the discord down there. Unfortunately there is a lot of stuff going on right now and I wanted to add a positive contribution to inspire people to remember the history. The chorus means we celebrate a Mexican town with this Ajajjic Guapango. The rest talks about the landscape and my experience growing up on the biggest lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala,” said Kohl.
Kohl said the most popular mariachi songs continue to be the classic, some dating back to revolutionary times. He said this is the unique aspect of mariachi.
“Nowadays you get these superstar singers in Mexico that do versions of old songs and keep bringing the music back. Even amongst the younger generations of Mexicans they all know the classic songs. The music just stays alive and it is really neat when you play because you have generations of people that all know the words and sing along,” said Kohl.
This past year has been good to Los Dorados. They appeared in an A&W commercial that aired nationally, performed in the Calgary Stampede parade and got to jam with Canadian rock band Big Sugar. Performing with Big Sugar at the Commodore in Vancouver for two sold-out shows, Los Dorados flipped one of the rock bands most popular tunes, Turn the Lights On, into the mariachi style.
“We are hoping this year is just going to continue in that direction and things are looking pretty good in that respect. I would say our ultimate goal is to have our original songs become part of the repertoire of all mariachi bands. That would be very flattering for us as we move the music forward and add a new chapter to mariachi composition,” said Kohl.
Los Dorados performs at Centre Stage Theatre in Summerland on March 24. Tickets are available at Martin’s Flowers in Summerland and Dragon’s Den in Penticton.