Interview: Javier Garcia of MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO! at 54 Below On May 5th

"I am excited, I am nervous, I am scared, but I am ready for it."

By: May. 01, 2023

Interview: Javier Garcia of MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO! at 54 Below On May 5th

May first is upon the world and the fifth of May is just a few days away, and that means that there will be people everywhere celebrating Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates the anniversary of Mexico's victory over the Second French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It's an important historical event, but it's also one heck of a celebration, one heck of a party.

This year, the party is over at 54 Below, and the show is titled, appropriately enough, MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO!, and it will be the New York City nightclub debut of Javier Garcia.

Javier Garcia is a pandemic transplant, a man who decided to hop in the hooptie and hotfoot it across America, from California to NYC (it isn't really a hooptie, I just love alliteration). Once a Manhattanite, Javier landed a job at 54 Below and, in short order, let the 54B family and the regular patrons know he was talented AF, by way of three different appearances in the 54 Below Staff shows. After a public insistence by this reviewer that he put together his first solo show, Javier talked to the bosses, picked a date, and, before long, he was sitting in front of my camera and talking about his wild NYC adventure. Audiences can expect some power vocals from this versatile singer, and, for the first time on the 54 Below stage, one of the most popular Mariachi bands on the isle of Manhattan. It promises to be a fun night for all.

In the meantime, pour a cuppa and sit back and learn who Javier Garcia is, and what his mission as an artist is all about.

This interview has been edited for space and content.

Photos by Stephen Mosher; Visit the Stephen Mosher website HERE.

Interview: Javier Garcia of MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO! at 54 Below On May 5th Javier Garcia, welcome to Broadway World!

Hi. Thank you for having me.

How are you today?

Doing good. I feel rested today, doing really good.

Javier! You have a show coming up.


On Cinco de Mayo?


It is your first solo show in New York City.

That's correct. It's gonna be a blast. I am excited, I am nervous, I am scared, but I am ready for it.

Let's talk about this.


You and I were just chatting, during our photo shoot. You moved here in the midst of the quarantine, in the middle of the pandemic.

That's correct: in 2020, I saw that the rents were going down. Everybody was leaving the city, and I decided it's now or never. And I drove across the country and here I am.

Did you keep your car?

I did.

You keep a car in New York City?!

I rarely use it because it's a lot easier to walk.

It's good for Costco runs.

Exactly. Trips to Ikea.

You are a California boy.


Who drove cross country - did you do a straight beeline or did you stop and see the country?

I saw some of the country. I stopped in Salt Lake City, and a lot of the nature-y spots. But mainly I was just trying to get here as soon as possible, I don't know why, probably just the excitement.

Interview: Javier Garcia of MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO! at 54 Below On May 5th

So, with this interview and this show, you are effectively introducing yourself to the city, to the cabaret community, to the industry, to the club goers. So let's introduce you. Like we said, you are from California.

That's right. I'm from a beautiful town called San Diego, California. I grew up there - lived my first three years in Mexico, then my parents migrated to San Diego, and I started singing when I was eight years old.

Was it a family thing or a church thing, or just a Javier thing?

Yeah, it's me. There's really no one that has this type of talent in our family, so my mom saw that there was something there and she put me into voice lessons. My voice teacher was a Mariachi singer, and he told me that if I wanted to develop a good voice, I had to sing Mariachi music. Maybe because that's all he knew. So he pushed it on me, and at first I hated it, and I grew to love it.

A lot of people who don't have a background in the Mexican culture have a misconception of Mariachi music, a stereotypical vision of it from films or television shows.


Interview: Javier Garcia of MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO! at 54 Below On May 5th Explain to me the core basis of Mariachi music.

There's definitely a lot of passion in it. I feel like it requires a big, open chest voice. The songs are very emotional, they feel like they come from the heart. Every song is like a beautiful poem that is expressed through the voice. Some of it is very dramatic, but that all comes from the passion that you have for the music and for the culture.

My grandfather was Spanish Filipino, and it is, as I learned, a race of passionate and melodramatic people.


What is at the center of the Mexican culture?

It's very similar. You could see it in the telenovelas, how they're overly dramatic - I feel like it could be silly at times but there's a lot of passion. There's a lot of love and care in the culture that is transmitted through the music, through the arts, through the telenovelas. I think it is all rooted in love.

Do Mariachi bands have a particular set of instruments?

Yes. You have to have four instruments, which is the Guitarrón which is the base, the Vihuela, which is a little bit bigger than the Ukulele, like between the Ukulele and a regular Guitar - that's sort of the rhythm. Then there's the Violin, and there's the Trumpet. That is the core. Obviously, Mariachis range from four to twelve, and they just add more instruments - either trumpet or violin or guitar.

And you have a Mariachi band in your show.

I do have a Mariachi band. I am very blessed to have MARIACHI REAL DE MEXICO join me that evening. I believe it's gonna be the first time that we see a Mariachi band at 54 Below, which is amazing. It's a great opportunity to share that culture. Mariachi Mexico, they're very popular here in New York City, and they usually play with the stars, whenever they come and tour here. I'm very blessed and privileged to be able to sing alongside them.

Interview: Javier Garcia of MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO! at 54 Below On May 5th

There is what I consider to be an unhappy dearth of Latin performers that work in cabaret and concert.


We could use more diversity in the industry, more Latins, more Asians, more blacks, but 54 Below has a wonderful tradition of having people like Bianca Marroquin, Mauricio Martinez, Jaime Lozano and Florencia Cuenca play the club - we get a lot of wonderful Latin performers there. But this is the first time that there's a Mariachi band at 54.


Did you do that on purpose?

I didn't but, obviously, it's awesome to have the privilege to have them, but it's also a little sad, you know? Cause we were talking about the diversity of cabaret and Latin is not where it should be.


But I am excited to bring that to the cabaret scene at 54 Below.

Interview: Javier Garcia of MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO! at 54 Below On May 5th You are also working with a wonderful musical director.

Darnell White.

Is that because your show isn't just Mariachi music?

I grew to love musical theater later in my career, obviously, because I started out singing Mariachi music. I met Darnell through the cabaret scene and introduced myself. He's an amazing human being and he's musical directing the first part of the show, which will have some Broadway tunes, some soul music, and Latin music. I'm blessed to have him do this show with me.

You have done three appearances in 54 Does 54.


Which is their staff show... because you're an employee at 54 Below.

That's correct.

When you started working there did they tell you right away about the staff shows and get you involved?

I didn't know about them until I was working there for about a month and a half, but once I saw that they were giving the opportunity to the staff members to perform, I just was like, "I gotta go for it." And the first time around was very exciting - it was my exposure to the city, to the owners of the club - it was definitely a great experience.

You studied musical theater while pursuing your work as a vocalist.


Did it concern you, having two different career paths available to you?

Interview: Javier Garcia of MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO! at 54 Below On May 5th A little bit? Because when I went to school, I sort of left Mariachi behind and put my focus in music theater. Then I started doing regional theater in California. I even got a chance to sing with Kristin Chenoweth at the Hollywood Bowl. So things were going in that direction and when I arrived here in New York City... my family is all on the West Coast, and I started getting a little nostalgic, missing home, missing my culture: that's when I started to get back into my first love, which was Mariachi music. Now I'm trying to navigate both. It's not easy but I feel like it's doable, and it's what I love to do. I love musical theater. I love Mariachi music. Hopefully one day those two can become one in a musical.

Are you continuing to audition while working at 54 Below and putting together your show?

Yeah, I'm continuing to audition, whenever my agent sends me to auditions and, right now, I booked my first New York audition, but it's out of state. I'm doing Kinky Boots in Michigan and I'm playing the role of Don. I'm really excited for that.

If this goes well, on the fifth, will you pursue more work like this?

I am definitely more familiar with the concert side of my career. I love just singing song after song. Musical theater is amazing, and I will still pursue that but if this goes well, why not? Why don't I keep going with it?

If there isn't a Mariachi singer in cabaret and concert, why shouldn't you lead the charge?

Yeah. I think that's one of the things that I was struggling with in this business - it's a tough business and there's a lot of growth needed, with hiring more people of color and, you know, I'm a bigger guy, as well, which definitely has been an issue - both being a bigger guy and a person of color, getting cast in things, because they put you in a box. It's sad, it sucks, but I have faith that that will change. So, now, if I'm finding a way to pave my own way, then I'll pave my own way, and bring my culture and musical theater with it.

I read an article recently that there is an active push in theater casting, especially musical theater casting, toward more fluidity of culture, of gender, and of body type. Are you beginning to notice that trend in casting?

Interview: Javier Garcia of MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO! at 54 Below On May 5th A little bit. We need to be in a better place with that, where it's not just the person of size doing the comedic role. We deserve to be in a leading part.

There was that wonderful production of Beauty in the Beast with Jade Jones, a woman of color who was also a woman of size.

That was very beautiful to see. My theory is, if it doesn't affect the story, then there's no need not to have a person of size, a person of color in the role. It was amazing to see that.

It's all about the storytelling.


The show is a little more than a week away.


It's your New York City solo show debut. Are you feeling more excited or more nervous?

I feel like both right now, because self-producing is a beast of his own. I'm very excited just to say "New York, here I am, this is what I have to offer." I hope people can enjoy and have a good time as well.

Well, on that subject, let's pretend that you and I have just met at a party.


Say something that will make me have to see your show.

It's gonna be the first time that a Mariachi band will hit Broadway's Living Room, and you want to be there to experience that.

Javier, thank you for the nice chat. I'm looking forward to the show.

Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

Interview: Javier Garcia of MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO! at 54 Below On May 5th

MEXICO LINDO Y QUERIDO! Plays May 5th at 9:30 pm with a livestream option. THIS is the link for the in-person show and the livestream reservations can be made HERE.

Javier Garcia is on Instagram HERE.


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