by Richard Campbell
Instead of being couch potatoes on Columbus Day some smart families headed off to enjoy the first of the John F. Kennedy Library Celebrate Series. The concert featured Veronica Robles high spirited Mexican Mariachi Band blending music, dance and culture with an interactive twist. As a part of Boston’s city-wide celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, this performance was designed to get kids moving. From her Aztec God appearance to the closing song Ms. Robles kept the little urchins dancing and singing away in bliss- all the while learning about the culture of the Americas.
Robles is that rare bird: a female Mariachi performer with educational skills and wise cracking humor wrapped in a golden heart, who knows how to charm an audience. Extend those skills to include exceptional vocal ability and add the brilliant ensemble led by her husband, Willy Lopez and you’ve got a performance worthy of the hall at the JFK. Besides being down right fun, there is a slightly hidden message about universal compassion- the teaching of kindness with a light touch. Shouldn’t all the world be this happy?
Veronica credits her grandmother who taught her traditional songs while cooking in the kitchen, which stoked her love of music and led to her discovery of Mariachi in Mexico City’s Plaza Garibaldi, where she learned the craft from veterans at an early age. In many respects her journey to New York City in 1992 to showcase her professional skills as a mariachi singer brought her through the towns and cities of Mexico and Latin America, flavoring her work with distinction and authenticity.
There are performers who sing the same songs, and other Mariachi bands in our midst, but you will be hard pressed to find one so spirited and inventive as Ms. Robles. When she brings the kids into the performance and allows them the opportunity to perform in costume, her generosity of spirit reveals a clever educator. For the kids, it is just fun.
The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum Celebrate series includes a succession of free kid friendly culturally inspired concerts, dance performances, and puppet shows from October through April of 2019. For more information, including a schedule of performances go to https://www.jfklibrary.org. Veronica Robles will be performing at the Harvard Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology during Dia de los Muertos /Day of the Dead, Evening Celebration on November 1. Go to https://www.peabody. harvard.edu/ for more information.