Mariachi Coculense de Cirilo Marmolejo

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Mariachi Coculense de Cirilo Marmolejo was one of the most influential of Mexico's mariachi bands. Initially known as Mariachi de Justo Villa and Violins del Cerro, the group laid the framework for every…
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Mariachi Coculense de Cirilo Marmolejo was one of the most influential of Mexico's mariachi bands. Initially known as Mariachi de Justo Villa and Violins del Cerro, the group laid the framework for every succeeding mariachi group. In addition to being the first mariachi band to perform in a legitimate stage show and the first to appear in a sound movie, they were the first to make an electric recording, the first to perform outside Mexico, and the first to record in the United States. Their style of dress, which included traditional sombreros with chin straps and hat bands, red panchos over muslin pants, and line shirts and a red sash around their waists, set the standard for all succeeding mariachi bands.

Mariachi Coculense de Cirilo Marmolejo originally featured Justo Villa on vihuela, a five-stringed ukelele-like instrument, Cristobal Figueroa on guitarron, and Chon Garcia and Mariano Cuenca on violins. With the addition of vihuela and guitarron player Cirilo Marmolejo (born in Hacienda de Los Trojes, Teocaltiche, Mexico, on July 9, 1890), the group changed their name as a tribute to the city of Cocula, where mariachi bands had performed as early as 1856. Throughout their history, Mariachi Coculense de Cirilo Marmolejo has traveled extensively. In 1903, they traveled to Chicago to record several tunes. They returned to the Windy City in 1933 to perform at the World's Fair. The band performed numerous times in Mexico City including a performance at a Mexican Independence Day celebration in September 1905. A year after relocating to the capital city in 1919, the group performed a much-publicized concert for prominent revolutionary politicians.

Although their repertoire consisted of only 23 songs, Mariachi Coculense de Cirilo Marmolejo recorded 31 albums. The group remained active until the death of Marmelejo in 1960. Marmolejo's nephew, José Marmolejo Ramirez, who performed with Mariachi Coculense de Cirilo Marmolejo from 1922 until 1933, went on to lead his own mariachi band, Mariachi Tapatio de José Marmolejo.