Have you ever traveled to Aspen with a mariachi band? Who hasn't? In the event you are one of the handfuls of people who's never played with a mariachi group, take a look behind the scenes at last Tuesday's gig with Mariachi San Jose.

Why is the photo so dark? The band was on a secret mission with this gig. The band's appearance at the event was a secret to all but two people. The shot above was taken at about 9:30 pm, with an outside temperature of 33 degrees.

In this particular case, Mariachi San Jose, led by guitarist Javier De Los Santos, featured a group of six musicians: guitar, two violins, two trumpets, and guitarron. Typically, the ensemble features a few more players, but due to space limitations, had to be reduced for this event.

As you can see in the photos above, for this gig, the group was quite literally a "garage band." The event was a surprise birthday party held at a magnificent home in the hills south of Aspen. The mariachi group hid downstairs while dinner was served in the dining room directly above. On cue, the band walked in, delivering a mariachi rendition of "Happy Birthday."

Yours truly performed on the guitarron. If you're not familiar with the instrument, Wikipedia describes it as:

a 'big Mexican guitar.' Mexican guitarron is a very large, deep-bodied Mexican six-string acoustic bass played traditionally in mariachi groups.

When it was all said and done, we all had a great time and enjoyed the exodus to Aspen. Be on the lookout for the band. We have a strange habit of showing up at churches and restaurants all over Western Colorado.