The outdoor part of the Hispanic League’s Fiesta 2019 ends at 7 p.m. on Sept. 14, but it will continue inside the Stevens Center at 7:30, when Flor de Toloache takes the stage.
The band members are from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Australia, Colombia, Germany, Italy and the U.S. They sing in English and Spanish and play both traditional and fusion-style mariachi.
Dating back to at least the 18th century, mariachi is a style of Mexican popular folk music with distinctive instrumentation — violins, guitars, basses, trumpets and the vihuela — and clothing — silver-studded charro outfits and wide-brim hats — often performed by strolling musicians. It is regarded as an integral part of Mexico’s culture and history, though in recent years its popularity has spread worldwide.
Flor d Toloache, named for a flower known as “Mexico’s love potion,” was formed in New York City by lead singer Mireya Ramos, violin, who grew up in Puerto Rico listening to her Mexican father perform mariachi, and Shae Fiol, from Oregon, whose father is Cuban.
“We’ve all slowly migrated to New Jersey,” Fiol said by phone from Oregon where the band was playing in the Sisters Folk Festival.
“I got to play my hometown, Portland, and my grandpa lives in Bend,” she said.
The all-woman mariachi band is playing in Winston-Salem in the middle of an intense touring schedule. Last week, Oregon. Next week, after dates in Asheville and Concord, they’ll head up to New York and Massachusetts.
Fiol said that the band that plays in Winston-Salem will comprise four or five musicians.
“Mariachi is a folk genre,” Fiol said. “The standout features are trumpet and violin. It has its own specific melodies and harmonies. The vocals can be tender, but they can also be belting — a falsetto, yodeling style. Mariachi includes waltzes and rancheros and upbeat rhythms made for dancing and twirling.”
Fiol plays the vihuela, a small, five-string guitar.
“It has a rounded back and a narrow neck and tuning similar to a ukulele,” Fiol said. “It’s typically a rhythm or harmony instrument in mariachi music.”
Fiol described some of the band’s high points, so far: “The first time we left the country to play. We went to Spain and got invited to India.
“Winning the Latin Grammy in 2017, and we also performed during the telecast. It was the first time that our category was televised, and it was the first time a female band had won.”
Their award was for Best Ranchero/Mariachi Album for “Las Caras Lindas.”
“We got to tour with The Arc in Europe and all over the U.S. A lot of Black Keys fans got to see us at festivals.”
As the opening act of Black Keys’ singer Dan Auerbach’s new band, The Arcs, Flor de Toloache played to sold-out audiences in the United Kingdom, Germany, Holland, Italy and France. In the U.S., the band has played at Nashville’s Ryman Theater at The Grand Ole Opry and at Coachella, and after an NPR “Tiny Desk Concert,” Flor de Toloache made an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Flor de Toloache’s latest album, “Indestructible,” is a bilingual collaboration with John Legend. It blends traditional Mexican music with reimagined pop covers. Released in May, it was featured on NPR’s “First Listen” program, with critic Marisa Arbona-Ruiz noting, “The album is a testament to the beauty, power and indestructibility of women and a celebration of one of Mexico’s most enduring, borderless art forms.”
The first concert in UNCSA Presents American Music Series for 2019-20, the Flor de Toloache concert marks a collaboration between the League and UNCSA Presents.
“In a genre that is dominated by men, Flor de Toloache performs a rich and powerful blend of music that transcends the traditional boundaries,” said Wiley Hausam, UNCSA’s managing director of performance facilities, who curates UNCSA Presents. “Their style is unique, and their sound is truly moving. We’re especially pleased to offer this concert in conjunction with the popular Fiesta event presented by the Hispanic League.”
Mari Jo Turner, executive director of the Hispanic League, said, “It is rare that we have the opportunity to experience the entertainment of Grammy Award winners in our community and we know this is going to be a fabulous concert. We hope everyone joins us for all of Fiesta.”