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Mariachi in Mount Vernon

Cinco de Mayo event celebrates youth talent, culture

Mount Vernon High School's mariachi program's most advanced ensemble
Mount Vernon High School's mariachi program's most advanced ensemble (Photo courtesy of Belen Vargas)
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

This week brings us to Cinco de Mayo, and if you want to celebrate the occasion with a festival of Mexican culture and tradition, look no further than the Lincoln Theatre, where a colossal assembly of young talent will be gathered for a festive evening of mariachi music and folklorico dancing. 

The May 5 show will be headlined by ensembles from Mount Vernon High School. Groups from Burlington-Edison High School, Mount Baker Middle School and LaVenture Middle School will also perform. This will be their second year presenting a major concert at the Lincoln — last year’s concert was a full house and a smashing success.  

Teacher and program director Ramon Rivera spent 15 years teaching mariachi in Wenatchee, and came to Mount Vernon three years ago with the goal of expanding the program there to include as many kids as possible. Since the students in the district are 60% Latino, the hope was to offer culturally relevant musical opportunities that would help students find positive outlets for their creativity. 

“Music gives kids hope,” Rivera told me. “A kid that’s in music does better in school.”

Students can learn instruments such as guitar, guitarrón, violin, clarinet or trumpet, or focus on singing. They also have two classes for traditional folklorico dancing. Performers move through a series of progressively more accomplished ensembles, with plenty of chances for public performance whenever they are ready. 

Thanks to some generous sponsors, the event on Friday is free to the public, and Rivera emphasized everyone is welcome.

“You don’t have to understand the language; you’ll love it,” he said. 

During the event, Skagit Valley College will also be announcing $1,000 in scholarships to students in the program. Having mariachi in schools creates a powerful conduit for folk songs which may be 100 years old or more to be made relevant and compelling for a new generation. 

“The power of mariachi can change kids’ lives,” Rivera said. 

I’d say that’s worth celebrating!

In other music news: The Blue Room’s Open Mic is moving from Thursdays to Tuesdays. The format is staying the same, with two hours of open mic followed by an open jam with a house band. 

The City of Ferndale has announced some fun musical plans for the summer. The city’s Food Truck Fridays will feature live music from the Mighty Bayou Opossums on July 7, and the Fabulous Murphtones on Aug. 4. There will also be live music in Pioneer Park on June 10 with alternative rock covers by Dial Up and, on Aug. 9, with horn-driven pop by Locust Street Taxi. You can also mark your calendars for a street festival July 22 and a block party on Aug. 5. For all the details check

Live music listings 

Tuesday, May 2

Archer: 7 p.m., The Piper’s Despair (Irish folk)
Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
Blue Room: 6 p.m., Open Mic; 8 p.m. Open Jam
Boundary: 6 p.m., Paul Klein on piano
Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Open Mic
Menace: 7 p.m., Invitational Blues Jam
Zeeks: 6 p.m., Open Mic

Wednesday, May 3

Boundary: 6 p.m., Aaron Guest on piano
Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
Katt’s Westside: 6:30 p.m., Grasp Logic, Get Off The Stage (industrial/electronic)
Rockfish: 6 p.m., Whistle Lake Jazz Quartet
Shakedown: 8 p.m., Terrapin Flyer (Grateful Dead tribute)
Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Rob Hutchings (folk)
Underground Coffeehouse: 7 p.m., Cat Valley (rock)
Wild Buffalo: 7 p.m., Bellingham Idol auditions

Thursday, May 4

Blue Room: 9 p.m., The Hobby, Pantsuitguy, Actress (rock)
Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid (acoustic covers)
Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Jazz Jam
Shakedown: 9 p.m., Hockey Teeth, Your Son The Professor, Reverse Death (alternative pop)
Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., J.P. Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., The Polish Ambassador, Scott Nice (electronic)
Zeeks: 7 p.m., Glyf (jam rock)

Friday, May 5

Admiralty Lounge: 8:30 p.m., The Moving Hats (Celtic)
Aslan: 8 p.m., BJ Block (jazz/funk)
Beach at Birch Bay: 6 p.m., Dial Up (alt-rock covers)
Blue Room: 9 p.m., Mount Saturn, Sorcia, Feral Moon (metal)
Birdsview: 6 p.m., Rosahlee
Boundary: 6 p.m., Peter Daniel Quartet (jazz/funk)
Chair 9: 8 p.m., Trabin (jam rock)
Fireside: 7 p.m., Penny Stinkers (classic rock)
Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., North Country Highway (country/rock)
Honey Moon: 8 p.m., East Coast Dave (roots)
Kulshan Trackside: 5:30 p.m., The Sulfites (funk)
Lincoln Theatre: 7 p.m., Mariachi Night ft. Mount Vernon HS Mariachi and Folklorico
McIntyre Hall: 7:30 p.m., The Paperboys (folk/rock/world)
Shakedown: 9 p.m., PS Webster, Balcony Bridge, Pure Halcyon (rock)
Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
Thirsty Badger: 8 p.m., Sam Halbert and Friends
Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Mistah Fab, Keak da Sneak, D-Lo, The Federation, guests
Welcome Road: 6 p.m., Gallowglass (Celtic)
WinkWink: 7 p.m., Green Daze PNW, Slowfall

Saturday, May 6

Beach at Birch Bay: 4 p.m., The 3 Radicals (classic rock)
Birdsview: 6 p.m., Cascade Cody
Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Min Far
Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Joe Cook Blues Band
Eagle Haven: 7 p.m., Michael Dayvid
Fireside 4 p.m., Singers’ Saturday
Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Meriweather (old-time folk)
Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Dumpster Joe, Stone & Sue’s Forty Drop Few (roots/jazz/blues)
Karate Church: 7 p.m., Mantraband, Iggy Poop, Earth Practice (“disco catharsis joy cult”)
Make.Shift: 8 p.m., The Sheen, Debt Rag, guests
Menace: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
Mount Baker Theatre: 7:30 p.m., Mads Tolling and Matt Eakle Band (jazz)
Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Joel Astley Band (blues)
Shakedown: 9 p.m., Smokey Brights, Small Paul, Cumulus (indie/pop)
Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Badd Dogg Blues Society
Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Whitewing Duo (blues)
Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., G-Space, Ecstasy of Eden, Leafs, Squirrely Bass (electronic)

Sunday, May 7

Kulshan: 5 p.m., The Devillies (Irish/folk)
Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., The Atlantics
Paws For A Beer: 2 p.m., Michael Dayvid
Wild Buffalo: 8 p.m., The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers (rockabilly)

Monday, May 8

Blue Room: 8 p.m., Double Booked (jazz)
Kulshan: 6 p.m., The Hipocrats (Americana)
Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Devin the Dude, guests (hip-hop)

Tuesday, May 9

Archer: 7 p.m., The Piper’s Despair (Irish folk)
Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
Blue Room: 6 p.m., Open Mic, 8 p.m. Open Jam
Boundary: 6 p.m., Paul Klein on piano
Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
Greene’s Corner: 6:30 p.m., Old Time Fiddle Jam
Horseshoe: 9 p.m., Michael Dayvid
Hotel Leo: 6:30 p.m., Lindy at the Leo ft. Dumpster Joe
Menace: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam

Before heading out to listen to live music, check with individual venues to make sure the event is still taking place as scheduled. 

Jesse Stanton’s music column, The Beat Goes On, runs Tuesdays. Email: or Twitter: @JSBhamMusic.

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