Mariachi is dead.
Omar Naré is looking for a resurrection.
His show, “Dos Mundos,” is 120 minutes of original Mariachi music, plus performances from Flamenco dance virtuoso Manuel Gutierrez and his wife, dancer Jasmin La Caris. It plays a one-off show 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 27, after which Naré hopes to take the show on tour.
“I called in all my favors,” says Naré, a local musician, who started singing Mexican folk music at 12 years old.
So, “Dos Mundos” has an all-star collection of musicians, including Marisa Orduño, who serves as the show’s musical director. Orduño is founder and director of the all-female Mariachi Mujer 2000, arguably the most popular contemporary Mariachi group in the world — it once played a house party for Oprah Winfrey.
Naré’s band includes guitarist Jorge Luis Laris and violinist (and longtime collaborator) Patrick Contreras.
In a way, “Dos Mundos” is a return to Naré’s roots.
As a teenager, the singer was poised to be a Latin music star: the next Ricky Martin. He self-released an album that sold close to 5,000 copies and caught the attention of record producers, who sent him to Italy. There, he recorded a demo that was pitched to record labels like Sony, which were eager to sign the young singer. But the pop-star image wasn’t one Naré or his parents were comfortable with, so he declined the offers and stepped back from music.
He went to college and go a degree in Spanish literature. When he finally returned to the music scene, it was mostly as a backup player. He gigged around town in salsa bands and collaborated often with Contreras. He still plays piano in Contreras’ rock trio.
Naré even experimented with his own music in a short-lived rock-en-Espanol band called DistritoTorres.
He returned to Mariachi because he loves traditional music and because of Fresno’s long ties with the genre.
The Fresno Convention Center used to host annual multi-day festivals that drew thousands of fans. Over the years, the crowds got smaller and smaller, Naré says.
“Now, it’s nonexistent.”
That reflects on the genre. As does the fact that its biggest stars are aging and its only connection with the youth comes from what Naré sees as parody bands like Metalachi or El Mariachi El Bronx.
Mariachi is dead, at least according to what Naré hears from friends in Mexico.
Still, he feels audiences here are ready for his “new” music, even if its rooted in traditional Mariachi style.
“Making this choice feels the most right,” he says. “People are itching for this new thing we’re trying.”