Nine Questions

John Contreras

A mariachi teacher for 10 years at Pueblo High School and music director of the Tucson International Mariachi Conference for three years, John Contreras has been involved in mariachi since he was 6 years old. The conference's Espectacular concert is Friday, April 26, and Contreras is excited that Sebastien De La Cruz, a preteen seen on America's Got Talent, will make an appearance. For more information about the concert and conference, visit

What was the first concert you attended?

The Scorpions, at TCC. It was during their "Rock you Like a Hurricane" tour back in, like, '86.

What are you listening to these days? 

I've been kind of into the whole vocal harmony thing. I really enjoy an English group called the Staves.

What was the first album you owned?

Kiss, Rock and Roll Over. I must have been about 8 or 9. It had a cartoon-looking cover and I thought, man, this must be cool.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone seem to love but you just don't get?

I don't even know what to call the genre but it's the kind of beat-driven music where there's not a whole lot of musicality going on.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

The early Beatles. Another would be Mariachi Vargas (de Tecalitlán), considered the best mariachi group in the world. They've been around for over 100 years.

Musically speaking, what is your favorite guilty pleasure?

I used to like Wham! It had a lot to do (with) girls liking Wham!

What song would you like to have played at your funeral?

"Las Golondrinas." The cool thing about it is that it's not like a goodbye song, like I will never see you again. It's one of those, hey, I'm gone for the meantime but we'll see you soon.

What band or artist changed your life and how?

Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. When I first attended the mariachi conference, I was about 7 years old and these guys came in and they were dressed impeccably and they had this sound that blew me out of the water.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Ratt, Out of the Cellar. I wore that album out.