Music: Movers and Shakers
Published Apr 30, 2007 - (Updated Dec 11, 2012)
Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Spring/Summer 2007 issue.
We cannot possibly do justice to the increasingly vast and varied live music scene here in Puerto Vallarta in a single installment. Like waves on the sand, every year seems to come and go, leaving behind new and memorable performances by talented performers from all walks of life. We’ve selected the following for your consideration from among those that have chosen Puerto Vallarta as their permanent residence. Some focus on traditional Mexican music, while others infuse our bay with sounds from up North. But they all are vibrant contributors to the wide-ranging sounds of Puerto Vallarta.
Beverly and Willow
Although they are found wherever fine jazz is heard in Vallarta, there is no finer venue for Beverly and Willow’s sexy, romantic jazz standards than the riverside beauty of The River Café. They have become a Vallarta institution, playing Thursday till Sunday evenings for the last five years at this acclaimed restaurant, just one of the magical components that create its sophisticated elegance. This married duo performs jazz and blues standards that perfectly showcase Beverly’s sultry voice and Willow’s guitar skills. This is a marriage of talent and cultures; Beverly originates from Chicago and Willow is from Guadalajara, but their music knows no borders. When they aren’t fusing the magic of the Rio Cuale and the dining experience of The River Café, Beverly and Willow can be found wherever great music is being played around the bay. As for their unconditionally enthusiastic fans, Beverly says, “They find us wherever we go.”
It’s not possible to claim having experienced Mexican culture without including mariachi music in your list of “must do’s.” Not only is mariachi music the most representative and recognizable of all Mexican music styles, its roots are all around us in the state of Jalisco, where tequila was also born. Not only does this music exude soulful festivity, it is also a visual feast, thanks to the traditional costumes worn by its performers. Founded in 1982 and directed by Pedro Rodríguez Segura, a founding member, the 10-piece Mariachi Cocula is one of several hard-working mariachi groups performing around Banderas Bay, usually at the Mexican fiestas organized by many hotels. Mariachi Cocula can be enjoyed Tuesday evenings at Marival, Wednesdays at Grand Velas and Thursdays at the Sheraton. But perhaps the best place to catch up with them is on Sundays at the traditional brunch offered at the Sheraton, a coveted gig they’ve had for the last 10 years. Here palm trees seem to sway along with the music, and the ocean serves as a stunning backdrop as you enjoy Mariachi Cocula’s outdoor performance accompanied by the Sheraton’s diverse and delectable menu.
Originally from Tepic, siblings Erika and Vick del Real, known as Arcano, are among the busiest musicians in Puerto Vallarta, appearing anywhere from the city’s public spaces to private functions. Influenced by their father, an accomplished organ player, they began studying music in early childhood. Although they tried several instruments as part of their training, they eventually gravitated to violin and piano, respectively, performing as soloists and in the orchestra setting. Several teachers suggested they form a duo early on, and the suggestion could not have been better suited. Fresh out of high school, they began performing at the Mayan Palace. Now in their mid 20s, Arcano’s sound is ever-present, their youthful energy easily recognized from afar as you approach Puerto Vallarta’s Main Plaza bandstand, where they perform most evenings. Arcano’s musical vocabulary is quite varied, as reflected by the half-dozen CDs they have released to date, featuring everything from Beatles tunes to Vivaldi, with a few romantic ballads, Latin-American standards and film music favorites thrown into the mix. Their sound is fresh and contemporary, thanks to Vick’s interest in polyphonic synthesizers, which he relies on during live performances to create a broader, more orchestral sound. While many musicians find themselves more at ease in enclosed venues, Erika and Vick find the capricious spontaneity of outdoor performances more alluring. “We never know what to expect from the crowd, and that is what keeps things interesting, especially when you perform repeatedly.”
“When she walks it’s like a samba, the Girl from Ipanema …” With accomplished versatility, d’Rachael segues from harp to f lute, standing and swaying, a woman with bosa nova in her soul. Her repertoire ranges from jazz standards like Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” to Nestor Torres’ Latin jazz “Mambo Sensual” and Ravel’s haunting classic “Bolero.” d’Rachael is a Vallarta music icon who has lived and played in Banderas Bay for 25 years, 15 of them in Yelapa. Her inf luence on the local music scene is evident everywhere, from a mariachi orchestra to chamber music to hot jazz. Most Sundays d’Rachael entertains the enthusiastic brunch crowd at Daiquiri Dick’s, and on three nights her harp serenades the diners at Archie’s Wok Puerto Vallarta is definitely her home, this seaside town her inspiration, challenge and satisfaction. Would she ever live anywhere else? A light laugh, “I don’t think so. I am building a house; each song buys a brick. And besides, after living here so long, they say I have “patas saladas” [“salty feet,” the term used to refer to native Vallartenses].
Camila Aguirre and Daniel Sánchez’s story sounds like a fairy tale, complete with a happy ending. They each displayed strong artistic inclinations at an early age, Daniel learning the guitar while living with his grandmother in Ajijic, and Camila constantly exposed to live musicians at her father’s Oro Verde, a popular coffee house in Puerto Vallarta. And they both have paid their dues, as many musicians do, working in restaurants to make ends meet. It was at a Bucerías restaurant under her care that their paths first crossed a few years back. Daniel began performing there, and it was love at first sight, musical and otherwise. Their first performances were on city buses, but within a few months their mutual love of traditional Mexican songs guided the sound and repertoire that now identifies them as Frijoleros. Their musical formula is simple: two guitars, two voices and a healthy selection of carefully crafted songs and ballads (known locally as “corridos”) from Old Mexico. Even their CD packaging, done by hand, displays a true commitment to Mexico’s artisan heritage. They recently began a new chapter in their lives, parenthood, as they surround 10-month-old daughter Amalia with the loving world they have created for themselves. Frijoleros can be found performing at Roots in Bucerías on Fridays, El Arrayán on Saturdays, and Mar Plata in San Pancho on Sundays.