ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Mariachi music is an important part of New Mexico culture, but with the coronavirus causing gigs to be canceled, many local groups are wondering when they will play again. Spring is normally one of the busiest times for the New Mexico mariachi ensemble, Trio Jalisciense.

“Up until mid-March we were doing our regular weekly stuff. We had private performances and gigs booked, contracts throughout the year, even into next year,” said Jose Santiago, director of Trio Jalisciense. “We were playing at the restaurants Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and of course we had gigs lined up not only during the weekend, but also the week.”

Around 50% of their schedule are restaurant performances at El Patron and Los Cuates. The other 50% include events like weddings and graduation parties, all impacted by the coronavirus.

“Obviously the restaurants have closed and we’re not working there anymore and all of my performances through late March and all the way to current date have been canceled or postponed,” said Santiago.

With their work coming to a halt, they decided to come up with a different way to perform. The group, made up of Jose Santiago, Jose “Chino” Carrillo and Juan Daniel Salazar, is taking their performances to the virtual stage, performing weekly via Facebook Live.

“Shortly after all this hit, we wanted to stay in touch with our clients and those who follow us on Facebook,” said Santiago. “It’s just something we did to try and stay in touch with our clients and also to provide some entertainment through this difficult time.”

They say some fans sit around the dinner table for a virtual performance. Others have enjoyed the live music with their grandparents who haven’t been able to leave the house.

“It’s heartwarming for us to be able to provide that service and we’re grateful for the technology to be able to do that these days,” said Santiago. A second generation mariachi musician, Santiago says performance is in his blood and the show will go on.

“I’m a second generation mariachi musician. I was pretty much born into it as they say and I have been playing professionally for 38 years here in the Albuquerque area,” said Santiago. “It’s more than just a job for me. It’s a lifestyle.”

With the possibility of restaurants opening to dine-in soon, Santiago says it’ll likely still be a while before they’re back to performing live. In the meantime, Trio Jalisciense performs live on Facebook every Friday evening at 7.