When did you two form Mariachi Flor de Missouri and what caused you to create it?
Andrew: I was on a website called GigSalad, looking for gigs for different styles of music that I do, and I noticed there was a big demand for mariachi. Then I thought, maybe I could find some mariachi bands and help them out. We really couldn’t find anyone who was doing mariachi locally. Then one day I said, “Rachel let’s try to do this ourselves,” and she told me about this song she heard when she was a child growing up in San Diego. We then put together an arrangement, tried it together and it just brought tears to our eyes. That’s when we were like we’re doing this, having no idea how much of the incredible amount of work it was going to be. We started recording, gathering other musicians, then we were hired for a big gig on Cinco de Mayo which enabled us to put the whole thing together.
Why did you name your mariachi band, Mariachi Flor de Missouri?
Andrew: The translation is mariachi the flower of Missouri. We are from Missouri of course, and it just seemed so obvious at the time.
Rachael: The flower came about because I was wearing a flower in my hair.
Around how many performances do you have a year? Where has been your favorite performance thus far?
Andrew: The amount of performances varies, and we have been doing this for three years now. Sometimes we will have a whole bunch like three-four in a month or we could have none for a few months.
Rachael: As far as favorite performances, all of them are my favorite. We actually sang the mass in a wedding. It was an awesome experience for me because I had never sung about Jesus and the Mother Mary in Spanish before. I was very beautiful, special, and deeply touching for me to be able to do that.
Another one of my favorites was when I had my first understanding of the expression that comes through me as an artist. We were hired for a New Year’s party/anniversary party. We were singing and this group of ladies in the room started to sing along with me. I had never had people sing along with me before in my entire life. That’s when I realized what a gift the music was, both to me and to the people I am singing to.
Andrew: I loved that performance as well, but every performance we do it better and I like it better than the last. I really loved the last one we did at the Discovery Center. We are beginning to connect more as a band. I started the whole thing where I was basically hiring people and giving them musical arrangements, but now we have a core group of people. And I am really looking forward to our next performance at Cinco de Mayo because we added a new member to the band.
How many other members are apart of your mariachi and what instruments do you play with?
Andrew: There is myself and I play the accordion. Rachel sings. Then we have Frankie Gorgey on guitar, James Box on violin and that is the core group. But we just added Cody Yañez who is an amazing singer and plays the guitarrón, which is the big Mexican bass guitar, and he is very committed, so I am going to call him one of the core group members as well. Then for other events, we add more. We’ve had other violinist and for this Cinco de Mayo event we are bringing in Teto de la Torre, a mariachi trumpet player from Guadalajara, who Grupo Latinoamericano is sponsoring, and a local trumpet player Danielle Urban.
How would you describe your mariachi band and music for someone who hasn’t heard you play before?
Rachael: Love. Romance. Passion. Beauty and Fun!
Andrew: It’s the most beautiful music. There is a great variety to it and you have to have your heart open when you come to it because the rhythms are going to pull you all different ways. There are many emotions, so even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can connect with the emotions and pictures that are coming through. You can’t do this music without being real.
What has been your biggest challenge as a mariachi and where do you hope to see yourself in the future?
Rachael: With each song, the process begins with learning the song and connecting with the heart. With me, the only way to do that is to memorize and keep the pictures strong in my mind and sing with all my heart. To keep my heart open and sing with passion every single song would probably be the biggest challenge for me.
Andrew: Organizing and keeping it together, keeping people motivated, all the band leader type stuff is the biggest challenge as a group. Then, of course, we want to perform more and there a lot of people that think it would be great to have a mariachi band, but some people don’t understand what it costs for them. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into it beforehand.
How has Groupo Latinoamericano helped you?
Rachael: Yolanda has really made it a more pleasant experience for us because she’s helped us find a place to practice. She has always been very supportive.
Andrew: Rachel and our children have also joined the dance troop. When we play on Cinco de Mayo, they’ll all be up there dancing and we’ll be singing, which is so nice.