Mariachi Perla De Mexico
Founder of Mariachi Perla de México, Margarito “Ricardo” Rivera, started getting involved with mariachi music at the age of 12. Born in Amatitan, Jalisco, about 45 minutes from Guadalajara, Mexico, Ricardo taught himself how to play the vihuela, a five-stringed, guitar-like instrument. During the early 1960s, mariachi music was in its prime. Changes to the styles and costumes increased the popularity of mariachi and Ricardo was drawn in. By the time he was 14, Ricardo and two of his brothers, Santos and Francisco "Pancho", played in a band that his father, Efren Rivera, managed.
The biggest influences on Ricardo's musical development were Javier Solis, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Vicente Fernandez and female singers, most notably Lola Beltran, Las Jilguerillas, and Rocio Durcal. Perhaps his biggest inspiration to play, however, was Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan, at the time considered the best mariachi in the world, and a group whose origins go back to 1897.
By the age of 16, Ricardo began earning higher pay and in the early 1970s, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he worked with many different mariachi groups, often traveling back and forth between Los Angeles and his home to visit his family. Ricardo eventually moved to Chicago in 1980. For the next several years he worked with well-established groups, and then in 1996 formed a group with friends.
Mariachi Perla was formed in 1997 by Ricardo and his father. Gathering the most talented musicians in the Chicago area, their goal was to create the best professional mariachi group in the Midwest. The group first consisted of only 7 members. As it grew in both personnel and popularity, Mariachi Perla de Mexico, playing traditional sones, huapangos, jarochos, boleros and rancheras, became one of the premier and most solicited mariachis in Chicago as well as in neighboring states. The current line-up of Mariachi Perla includes Ricardo on violin, his brother Santos, Ricardo's son Jorge (who started playing the violin at 8, and in 1999 at age 16 joined the group as a permanent member), Oscar Bedoya, Ernesto Najar, Florentino Marquez, Victor Cervantes, Xavier Cerrano, Braulio Cardenas and Daniel Lopez.
This Mariachi played at my ceremony and wedding reception. These guys are top notch and they deserve every dime. All the guests commented on their excellent sound. This is a complete Mariachi from head to toe. They made our night very memorable and I would highly recommend them.
I saw Mariachi Perla de Mexico perform at a Mexican Independence Day concert at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park. They are by far the best mariachi I have seen in Chicago. They accompanied Lila Downs for her second set of the evening, performing traditional rancheras and boleros, and received the loudest, most enthusiastic reaction from the crowd of any of the performers that night. Their presentation is absolutely professional (they wore beautiful pearl grey suits), and their musicianship is of such a high caliber as to compare favorably with any of the better-known mariachis from Mexico.