ELOY — From its musical performances, songs and traditional outfits — hand-embroidered in Mexico — Mariachi Nueva Era aims to keep the mariachi beat alive while giving it a next-generation feel and style.
“Mariachi music is very happy and upbeat. People feel happy when they hear it,” said Mariachi Nueva Era band leader Martin Calleros. “We try to keep our sound traditional, but if you listen closely to the trumpet, you’ll hear some jazz and blues influences as well.”
Calleros, who works in the banking industry, was born in Mexico but moved to Casa Grande with his family at the age of 14. But he didn’t grow up a fan of mariachi music.
“I didn’t listen to mariachi music too much while I was growing up,” Calleros said. “But together, our band has 100 years of experience.”
Calleros started Mariachi Nueva Era about seven years ago after a local restaurant owner asked him to put together a group.
“I never thought mariachi was something I would ever do, but once I put the band together, I really enjoyed it,” he said.
Calleros is the manager and lead singer of the five-member Mariachi Nueva Era group. He also plays the guitarron.
Each member of the group has years of experience performing and playing various instruments.
Scott Ludwig, trumpet player for the group, has more than 40 years of musical experience and has played mariachi for more than 25 years.
Performing on the vihuela, a small guitar, is Jaime Casillas, who has more than 10 years of experience playing in musical groups.
Also performing with the group are Melissa Medina, who plays the flute and sings, and guitar player/singer Alberto Mora.
“Everybody sings,” Calleros said. “But I’m the lead singer.”
The goal of the group is to keep the mariachi sound authentic.
Calleros learned mariachi from his mentor, Joe Sanchez, who also suggested the band name, Mariachi Nueva Era.
“The idea of the band name is that we are the younger generation keeping the old music and traditions alive,” Calleros said.
As well as the music, the outfits worn by the band members are an important part of the group’s authenticity.
The group wears black, hand-embroidered outfits with tailored pants and large red bow ties.
The outfits were designed and made for the group by a mariachi clothing designer in Mexicali, Mexico.
While traditional mariachi outfits tend to be designed with metal accents, the group went with embroidered details instead.
“It is hot here in Arizona so we went with the embroidered look instead of the metal pieces to be more comfortable,” Calleros said.
When he’s performing, Calleros said he feels happy seeing people enjoy themselves and dance to the music.
“It’s very rewarding knowing that this music brings so much joy to people,” he said. “Knowing we’re making people happy is the best thing in the world.”
Mariachi Nueva Era will peform at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 at Fiestas Patrias.