Photography •  Ethnomusicology and Chicano/a

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Hotel Mariachi: Urban Space and Cultural Heritage in Los Angeles

Catherine L. Kurland
Enrique R. Lamadrid
Photographs by Miguel A. Gandert

First Place Winner of the 2015 International Latino Book Award for Best Nonfiction, Multi-Author

In Boyle Heights, gateway to East Los Angeles, sits the 1889 landmark “Hotel Mariachi,” where musicians have lived and gathered on the adjacent plaza for more than half a century. This book is a photographic and ethnographic study of the mariachis, Mariachi Plaza de Los Angeles, and the neighborhood. The newly restored brick hotel embodies a triumphant struggle of preservation against all odds, and its origins open a portal into the Mexican pueblo’s centuries-old multiethnic past.

Miguel Gandert’s compelling black-and-white images document the hotel and the vibrant mariachi community of the “Garibaldi Plaza of Los Angeles.” The history of Hotel Mariachi is personal to Catherine López Kurland, a descendant of the entrepreneur who built it, and whose family’s Californio roots will fascinate anyone interested in early Los Angeles or Mexican American history. Enrique Lamadrid explores mariachi music, poetry, and fiestas, and the part Los Angeles played in their development, delving into the origins of the music and offering a deep account of mariachi poetics. Hotel Mariachi is a unique lens through which to view the history and culture of Mexicano California, and provides touching insights into the challenging lives of mariachi musicians.


Catherine L. Kurland is award-winning executive editor of Chronicles of the Trail, journal of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail Association. She lives in Santa Fe.

Enrique R. Lamadrid is distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of New Mexico. He is the author and translator of numerous books for both adults and children.

Miguel Gandert, internationally known documentary and art photographer, is distinguished professor and director of Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media at the University of New Mexico.


“An awesome ethnography of the mariachis of Boyle Heights, with stunning photos giving readers a sense of place.”


¡Ask a Mexican!

“(In Hotel Mariachi) Gandert sought to capture the contrast between the joy of the regal bands performing versus the harsh reality of their struggles for work from the crumbling building.”


Albuquerque Journal

“A beautiful visual and historical tribute to the musicians who still work and live in the Boyle Heights neighborhood.”


Journal of Folklore Research

Hotel Mariachi . . . establishes a tone of informed passion that takes the reader on a fascinating journey in time and place—especially place. . . . This volume will be of special interest to anyone exploring the past and present of Mexican music in the City of the Angels.”


Journal of the Society for American Music

10 x 8 in. 120 pages 90 duotones