How Covid negatively affected the Mariachi Bands

Mariachi bands are fixtures at joyous events like weddings, quinceañeras and serenades. But the pandemic has erased many of those occasions, leaving behind only funerals — including those of some band members — that have kept some mariachis from financial ruin.

One group, the Mariachi Los Camperos, played in February at the funeral of their nationally acclaimed guitarrón player, Juan Jiménez, who had succumbed at 58 to the coronavirus.

“His friends were all there with him, playing for him, thanking him, continuing his legacy,” said Guzmán, a friend of Jiménez since childhood and the music director of the mariachi band they both called their own.

To witness the number of sad events that have kept some mariachi bands financially alive is to confront the virus’s harrowing toll on the people who once sang to their music. Latino and Black residents caught in this winter’s fierce coronavirus surge through Los Angeles County died at two or three times the rate of the white population there.

The story is similar in other locations with large Latino populations, and studies show Latinos are more vulnerable to becoming ill and dying from the virus. Their communities and households tend to be more crowded and to rely on mass transit, their access to health care is limited and their jobs are likely to involve contact with the public.

So as the caskets go into the ground, many mariachi bands in California, Texas, Illinois and elsewhere have turned to playing songs of pain and sorrow to ease the passing. Even for the bands used to playing at funerals before the pandemic, the sweep of death has been overwhelming. Many have lost family and friends, band members and music teachers.

Source @nytimes

Photos by @theotherchrislee and @samanthacabrerafriend

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