In 2016, veteran music educator, former world music instructor, and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bishko was looking for a way to have more fun with performing music. He joined GigSalad, and soon noticed that there was quite a demand for mariachi. His idea was to find a working band in the Springfield, Missouri area and help them out.
While he was looking, Andrew started learning some ranchera songs on his accordion for fun, and then asked his wife Rachael to try singing some. When they first played Cucurrucucu Paloma, they brought themselves to tears. It was a major “Let’s do this thing!” moment.
Rachael Mercedes Bishko grew up in San Diego, where her father took her frequently to restaurants and across the border to savor Mexican cuisine and mariachi music. Her Trinidadian mother spoke Spanish whenever she wanted to keep secrets from Rachael, so she quickly picked up on the beauty and cadence of the language.
Rachael trained as a vocalist from an early age, sang in competitive choirs, musical theater, and toured assisted living centers singing jazz standards, where her voice touched the hearts of the residents and brought back vivid memories of the classic singers of years gone by.
But when Rachael began singing with Andrew in Spanish, it felt like coming home.
She found that her rich alto voice meshed magically with the classic boleros, rancheras, huapangos, and sones that form the mariachi repertoire. Andrew set to work transcribing arrangements and reaching out to his musical contacts to form a band.
Soon they were joined by rock guitarist Frankie Gorgey, whom Andrew had met in a Pink Floyd cover band. Frankie pulled his classical guitar out of the closet and set a course of study to master the rhythmic intricacies of huapango and sones.
While Andrew’s meticulous arrangements made it possible for other local professionals to join in for bigger gigs, many of Mariachi Flor de Missouri’s earlier performances centered on the trio of Rachael, Andrew, and Frankie (with Andrew keeping himself very busy on the accordion covering the guitarrón, violin, and trumpet parts).
Several months after their debut performance, Mariachi Flor de Missouri shared the stage with the Grupo Latinoamericano Dance Troupe led by Yolanda Lorge. Yolanda immediately recognized their passion and commitment and took them under her wing, coaching them to embody an authentic Mexican sound in this most Mexican of Mexican music genres.
Rachael and her three children also joined the dance troupe, and immersed themselves in the movement, sounds, zapateado footwork, and colorful costumes of ballet folklorico. Now, many Mariachi Flor de Missouri shows also include Rachael and her daughter dancing Jalisco.
After playing a few shows with them, young classical violinist James Bøx became a regular member of the core group, bringing his exuberant virtuosity and powerful tone. The band also has a number of other violinists, bass/guitarrón players, and trumpeters “on reserve” the bigger gigs.
Mariachi Flor de Missouri has endeared themselves to the local Hispanic community, sharing their love and passion for mariachi music at many community events, as well as weddings, masses, and quinceañeras.
All of the members of the core group (even young James!) are teachers, and Andrew a veteran educator, so this mariachi band is perfect at sharing, explaining, and teaching about this wonderful music, dance, and culture.
Mariachi Flor de Missouri has fallen in love with this music, and we hope you will too!