TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Anyone at the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival this afternoon got a special visit from a legendary mariachi group.
A group of ugly little monkeys surprised hundreds with a mariachi flash mob. Los Changuitos Feos de Tucson also known as the ugly little monkeys was the first youth mariachi group in the united states. A Catholic priest founded the group in 1964 for K-12 students. The rest was history.
“Now mariachi is offered in high schools throughout the country and some universities and colleges and it is all a result of Los Changuitos Feos,” said Steve Esteban Carrillo, an original member of Los Changuitos Feos.
The group set the stage for youth mariachi music in Tucson and across the country. They've received national recognition after performing at presidential inaugurations for both Nixon and Ford.
“When I started participating in mariachi music, then that was it, it got me for good,” said Randolfo Lionel Carrillo, an original member of Los Changuitos Feos.
The Carrillo brothers both grew up in Tucson and are some of the original members of the group. The Carrillos alongside a couple of others started their own mariachi band when they graduated high school to continue playing into retirement. It’s called the Mariachi Cobre — they've performed at the Epcot Center in Disney World since 1982.
“Being exposed to a lot of the very prominent mariachis in the world just solidified my love for the culture and the music,” Randolfo Lionel Carrillo said.
Although they achieved international fame - the men never forgot where they started.
“It was a lot of fun coming back to my hometown, and working with the original members, I was nine years old when I joined - some of these guys - David Reese - was my mentor,” Steve Esteban Carrillo said.
On Saturday, multiple generations of the ugly monkeys came together for the first time. Original and current group members organized a flash mob performance at the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival.
“The mariachi community, no matter what group you're from, you’re always welcome," said Alma Miamccune, a current member of Los Changuitos Feos. "And it just makes me want to continue on forever.”
The special visit is in support of an upcoming feature documentary that tells the story of their legacy.
“Mariachi is mainstream, not just in the United States but globally because of what these men started back during that time,” said David Valdez, Producer of the upcoming documentary.
Valdez hopes to finish the documentary by Fall of next year.
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