Española native in Super Bowl spotlight as Rams Mariachi performer | Local News

Members of the Mariachi Rams wear blue and gold uniforms that reflect the up-and-coming NFL team they’re associated with, but the core of the group is pure turquoise.

Española native Santiago Alberto is the musical director of the nine-piece band that will serenade those arriving at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., for Super Bowl LVI on Sunday. The Los Angeles-area resident has been with the group since its inception in 2019 and said the Rams are the only major sports team with an affiliated mariachi band; it was founded by group manager Jose Hernandez.

During the season, Alberto said, the group happened before Rams home games and then on the field between the first and second quarters. Sunday’s pre-game roster only is the result of the NFL, not the team, producing on-field entertainment for the Super Bowl.

Alberto, 29, said the news circulated in northern New Mexico.

“Because New Mexico doesn’t have an NFL team, everyone in my hometown of Española is usually Broncos fans or Cowboys fans,” he said Friday. . “But they become Rams fans because they know I play in the mariachi. It’s really cool to see that.

Alberto, the son of Spanish singer Angel Espinoza, said he relishes the chance to share a style of music he is passionate about with fans who may not know him.

“Every home game is an audience of 70,000 people,” he said.

The origins of Mariachi music can be traced back to the Jalisco region of Mexico in the 1800s. It is performed by musicians dressed so neatly and specifically that it would be hard to confuse them with anything else, and the sounds come from singing , guitarrón (a great acoustic bass), mexican vihuela (rhythm guitar), harp, guitar, violin and trumpet.

As musical director, Alberto sings and can play all of these instruments, as well as drums and piano. He also writes arrangements for his fellow musicians when the band tackles non-mariachi music – a task that can be a challenge, given that the instruments used in mariachi are markedly different from those used to create rock and music. hip hop.

One example, Alberto said, was the adaptation of the 1995 song “California Love” by Tupac Shakur, featuring Dr. Dre (who, coincidentally, is among the Super Bowl halftime performers this year).

“We had to figure out how to sound like we had drums without having drums,” Alberto said.

Another challenge, he says: “I had never rapped before. I sing, but rapping is a whole different thing. So I had to figure out how to rap and not sound too corny.

Alberto said he did this by repeatedly listening to the original recordings and doing his best to copy the rappers’ sound.

Back in New Mexico, a proud Espinoza said she was thrilled for her son — and about the exposure he brings to mariachi music.

“They’re like rock stars right now,” she said of Mariachi Rams. “Wherever they go. I had the privilege of seeing them live in October at SoFi. It’s so exciting to see them up there on the big screen, and all those fans who love mariachi music. … Jalen Ramsey is a big fan and, of course, members of the Mariachi Rams are big fans of their team.

Ramsey, a star cornerback for the Rams, is an avowed fan of the group and posted an image of himself wearing a Rams Mariachi uniform on Instagram. He became interested after a trade brought him to Los Angeles in 2019, according to an ESPN report.

Band members met Ramsey via conference call amid pandemic restrictions, Alberto said.

“Jalen, when he saw the Mariachi Rams play the game, he loved the atmosphere,” he said. “So he contacted the people who made our suits and asked if he could have one made like ours. He ended up having a custom suit made. He sent all the members of the mariachi band an autographed jersey of him. So we sort of swapped.

The Rams playing at home for the Super Bowl is a happy coincidence; the location of the game had been chosen years earlier. The Rams also hosted the NFC title game and a wild card game – meaning it’s been a particularly busy season for Mariachi Rams.

“It’s like the planets have aligned, and it’s their time,” Espinoza said of the band. “They’re part of the Rams family, and it’s so cool, this collaboration.”

Espinoza has described herself as the biggest Mariachi Rams fan – a claim Ramsey might dispute. The performer said she loved “sitting in the back” and watching her son’s success.

“There’s nothing like a mother seeing her child’s dreams come true,” Espinoza said.

David Valdez of Albuquerque said he met Alberto about 15 years ago when they were both in the mariachi program at Española Valley High School. He shared Alberto’s and Espinoza’s enthusiasm for the rising profile of the mariachi, calling Rams Mariachi a “great first” for the musical style.

“More and more artists are starting to incorporate mariachi into their repertoires,” he said. “A lot of artists here in New Mexico are moving into making mariachi albums.”

As for his friend Alberto, “We have the same fire for the art of mariachi,” he said.

Asked what he misses most in New Mexico, Alberto quickly listed the twin joys of family and food. That said, he is happy with the way life is going.

“I just think it’s really cool that someone from Española, New Mexico can play music at the Super Bowl,” he said. “I went from playing Sundevil basketball games, singing the national anthem and playing school events to playing SoFi Stadium.”

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