Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

April 10, 2011

Mariachi los Camperos de Nati Cano

UMass Fine Arts Center, Amherst, MA
April 6, 2011
by Stacie Beland

When an average, uninitiated person thinks of Mariachi music, a number of clichés are immediately conjured. It's not a genre that has received much mainstream attention, perhaps at least partially due to those clichés. The performance given by Mariachi los Camperos de Nati Cano at the UMass Fine Arts Center, however, was a fine example of harmony, musicality, and beautiful voices. In an age where harmony can be produced by laptops and vocal harmonies are typically mixed in a studio, to be able to bear witness to truly remarkable live music is a rare feat.

The group, which is typical of most Mariachi bands in that it incorporates violins, trumpets, classical guitars, a vihuela, a guitarron, and a harp, was not only a joy to listen to, they were a joy to watch.  Many of the musicians played at least two instruments and additionally lent their vocal stylings to the mix. The band members were also highly engaging, playing all of their songs from memory and tossing more than a few winks and smiles to the audience as they did so. The audience, clearly thrilled by the performance, was often moved to sing along and in some cases, got out of their seats to dance. Mariachi is music of passion, and it was performed by Nati Cano's group with ardor.

Nati Como, the founder of the group, occasionally interrupted the performance to speak directly to the audience (occasionally in English, but predominantly in Spanish), engaging even those audience members who may not have fully understood what he was saying. Como additionally took requests from the viewers, and the band fulfilled most of them (including the famously popular "Cielito Lindo" and "La Bamba"). The song stylings ranged from upbeat, fun dance pieces to stunning ballads of longing and love, sung in voices that seemed to be polished with velvet.  During those ballads, the crowd swooned to the crooners' power. To be sure, Mariachi los Camperos de Nati Cano  offered musical precision that's nearly impossible not to love.