Photo by Jane Hancock
Francisco Moreno, 1999
Francisco Moreno was born in Michoacan, Mexico, in 1931. While he always loved music, he never played it
until friends recruited him into a mariachi group at age 26. Francisco first played the guitar and
then took up the violin--always adapting to whatever was needed by the group. He never had any formal music
training, but learned how to play by ear on the job. The work at parties and nightclubs paid much better
than farmwork. With music he could do something he enjoyed and also better support his 10 children.
In the early 1960s Francisco moved to Zamora, a center of mariachi music, to find better work. There
he started playing trumpet. When the group leader tried to take the trumpet part away from Francisco,
he told him that this time he'd found an instrument he really loved and he wasn't going to give it up!
Though he'd been to California and Oregon before as a farmworker, Francisco didn't settle in the
United States until 1973, when a friend finally convinced him to leave a steady mariachi job in
Ensenada. First Francisco worked as a musician in Los Angeles for a while and then he moved to
Watsonville. Francisco has not worked outside music since then, playing throughout the Monterey Bay
area with every local mariachi band of the last three decades.
When asked what he likes best about playing music, Francisco said he has a real passion not only
for the trumpet, but for mariachi itself: "Hay todo en mariachi. Hay paso dobles del son, hay
boleros, hay cumbias, hay de todo lo que este, hay en mariachi, lo mas bonito...
A mi me gusta toda la musica, pero ya le digo, El mariachi es muy, tan mundial...Por adentro el mariachi
en cualquier parte que entren mariachi es, levanta todos muertos! Si, es cierto."
There is everything in mariachi. There are dobles del son, boleros, cumbias. Mariachi is the most
beautiful. I like all kinds of music, but I'm telling you, mariachi is universal. Everywhere that
mariachi goes, the dead come alive! That's true, for sure.