In the 1940s, pioneer promoters and bandleaders such as Guadalupe Carlos and Merced Gallegos brought the greatest names in mariachi music to the Bay Area. Icon vocalists such as Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, and Javier Solis infatuated a post-WWII generation with legendary Mexican dances and shows at places like Sweet's Ballroom in Oakland and Sailors of the Pacific union hall in SF. Mariachis continue to be a cultural tradition at weddings, baptisms, anniversaries, masses, and even divorces. Made up of violin, trumpet, guitars, and the pot-bellied bass guitaron, the spirit is troubadour and rooted in resident restaurants. Mariachi Los Michoacanos, directed by violinist Ubaldo Felipe, a veteran bandleader, has made a home base of Tio Toño in the Fruitvale district. Usually kicking off around 9:30 p.m. on weekends, the restaurant known for its seafood delicacies presents a floor show with guest singers from Mexico and throughout California. With large spacious tables, the onetime Mexican market has a nice bright atmosphere (though its parking lot could use better light) with bright decor and a large visible stage. The singers usually wander through the restaurant singing on a wireless micand taking requests. So get there early; eat, drink and be merry; and ask for the Mexican blues tune "Volver, Volver" at midnight. You'll be the hit of the party!
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