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Jarabe Mexicano Shares Music from the Border
Saturday, October 28, 2023


They play what they call “Bordeno-Soul”—music that reflects the eclectic nature of those who live along the border between the United States and Mexico.

It includes Mexican folk, rock and roll, Latin Rock, Norteno/Tex-Mex, Trio Romantico and Cumbia—Latin American music that includes elements from Indigenous peoples and African slaves.

Their music is contemporary while honoring the past. And their mission is to celebrate the eclectic spirit of those who live along the border between the United States and Mexico.

Jarabe Mexicano will bring this Bordeno-Soul to The Argyros Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3. Tickets are $20, available at

“From the beginning the band has had education at the core of what it does,” said Gustavo Alcoser. “Our focus is border culture, Mexican-American identity. We try to explain to people what it’s like growing up on the border as Mexican Americans and how we’ve been influenced not only culturally but musically, by that experience.”

This will be Jarabe Mexicano’s second visit to the Sun Valley area. They performed their blend of Mexican folk, rock and Tex-Mex at the Sun Valley Museum of Art’s Dia de los Muertos celebration in 2022 outside the Hailey House.

The group had its genesis in the classroom at San Diego State University.

“Our band director was studying music education and there were a bunch of us friends. One summer we played a bit at a place called Old Town in San Diego. The following year in 2015 I got a call from the director who told me he was putting together a band of students, professors and alumni and asked me if  I would like to sing,” said Alcoser.

Alcoser trained as a classical vocalist but was in the Master’s program studying Latin American studies, his sights on becoming a professor.

“I was doing a study abroad program in southern Mexico for a month and I said, ‘If you guys will wait a month, I’ll be happy to join you,’ ” he recalled.

The musicians—Alcoser, Danny Brito, Kevin Lomes, Eddy Valencia and Esteban Smith--named their band Jarabe, an Arabic word introduced into this country by Spanish explorers. It means “a mixture” or “concoction,” and is used to describe such medicinal concoctions as cough syrup.

“The word was adopted musically to describe a mixture of different rhythms from different regions in Mexico. We’ll make a medley of these different rhythms,” said Alcoser.

Alcoser grew up in the San Diego but, when he was 5, his family moved to Tijuana. His parents crossed the border every day to go to work; he crossed to go to school. When he was 18, he moved to San Diego to attend college.

He moved back to Tijuana after he began to tour with Jarabe Mexicano to avoid having to pay expensive rents in San Diego when he wasn’t there half the year.

While Alcoser lives in Tijuana and Lomes in San Diego, other band members live along the border in Nogales, Ariz., which sits on the border of the Mexican state of Sonora.

“Even though we’re all from the border region, we all have different experiences and backgrounds, different slang, different kinds of foods,” said Alcoser. “The border isn’t a monolithic thing. But we like to show that, even though we’re different, we share commonalities.

The border is not as black and white as people make it out to be, Alcoser said: “It’s a very complex situation with a lot of moving parts. We acknowledge that, of course, there’s a wall but legally the region feels like one region even though it covers two different countries. And living on the border keeps us in touch with our roots, which is not as easy for Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants who live further away. It’s a privilege that we get to experience.”

Friday’s concert is part of the band’s Dia de los Muertos tour. They will set up an altar on stage with a picture of artists to whom they will pay tribute during the show.

“Our music is very diverse—we do a variety of genres,” said Alcoser. “And we will perform things from Bob Marley, Ritchie Valens, Selena and some of the important music icons from Mexico.”

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