Mariachi Los Reyes, Rodri J. Rodriguez and José Alfredo Jiménez Jr. pose for photos during a press conference on June 27, 2013. (Rafael Orellana/Living Out Loud LA)
When Rodri J. Rodriguez founded Mariachi USA Festival in 1990, she wanted to add a missing link between Angelenos and the city of Los Angeles.
LA, the second most important city in the U.S. and unarguably the most diverse, populates perhaps the largest segment of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the country.
Providing the experience of Mariachi USA to the LA public was essential for Rodriguez. She’s managed to gather thousands and thousands of fans year after year in order to celebrate mariachi music.
Now in it’s 24th year, Mariachi USA continues to entertain audiences with performances from some of the most popular mariachi acts across the U.S. and internationally. That and much more will be the case Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl.
“There’s a magic to having the festival at the Hollywood Bowl,” said Rodriguez. “I want to keep the magic there.”
Rodriguez loves the music and writing that legendary singer-songwriter José Alfredo Jiménez left behind after his death in 1973. For his 40th anniversary of passing, Rodriguez decided to pay tribute to him. This year’s festival carries the theme of his music.
For Rodriguez, there’s a different challenge on a yearly basis.
“We change it,” she says. “We really just change it up every single year with mariachis. We make sure that songs aren’t repeated twice. We mix the contemporary with the traditional. We bring groups in from around the country. It’s not just LA groups. There’s always a surprise.”
This year, the festival is scheduled to feature Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán of Mexico, Texas’ Grammy nominee Mariachi Los Arrieros del Valle, LA’s own Mariachi Estrella de Jalisco, Mariachi Los Reyes and Grammy nominee Trio Ellas, and Mi Tierra Folklorico Ballet.
José Alfredo Jiménez Jr. is proud of the tribute.
“It’s a grand emotion,” he said. “When Rodri told me about the concept behind this year’s festival, I was quite glad. The family became very happy, as well. It’s always wonderful to perceive tributes of him and how much affection people still have him.”
In LA, it’s José Alfredo Jiménez Day every year on Nov. 23. That depicts the obvious: How much he’s meant to this city.
Jiménez Jr. also didn’t hesitate to mention how much he misses his father.
“I miss him a lot,” he said. “My dad and I got along very well. I always looked up to him. I have beautiful memories of him, especially when the two of us would go to a studio to record his songs. He was a friend and companion.”
Whether you’re a fan or not, you should go to the festival, says Jiménez Jr.
“I invite everyone to attend,” he said. “Everyone should do so to enjoy this tribute to my father. I encourage all of LA to come to the festival.”