Young and old, the artists who made it to Pickathon this summer tended to be seasoned performers. Up-and-comers, sure, but pros. No way a high school mariachi band makes the list, right?聽

Except for Forest Grove High School鈥檚 Mariachi Tradici贸n, whose sets wound up being among the most electrifying performances of the festival. Really.聽

The audition-based ensemble blasted out big sound, puffed cheeks pushing wind through trumpets, fingers dancing on a harp, clean harmonies belting from adolescent pipes. Part of what made the youths so charming to watch had to do with that鈥攖hey鈥檙e kids, brimming with pure enthusiasm and radiant joy. But it was also about a real sense of confidence and poise that can come only from the unavoidable truth that they were very, very good at their craft.聽

Moments into their opening number, the crowd swelled from a few scattered attendees to a packed 鈥渉ouse鈥 and raucous applause, especially when the band did a soaring rendition of 鈥淟a Bamba.鈥澛

Mariachi Tradici贸n MATHIEU LEWIS-ROLLAND
Mariachi Tradici贸n MATHIEU LEWIS-ROLLAND

According to one of the group鈥檚 elder members, Mariachi came into existence in Mexico鈥 in Jalisco and Michoac谩n (depending on whom you ask), and it started with simple origins. The first Mariachi bands had but one guitarr贸n, a bass guitar or a harp, maybe a couple violins. Then came trumpets, a wider ban of songs, fancy embroidered outfits to represent the proud tradition as musicians began touring in other countries.聽

In Forest Grove鈥攁 small city located to the west of Hillsboro that is also home to the world's tallest barber shop pole鈥攎ariachi classes are offered at both high school and middle school levels. The head the school鈥檚 orchestra and mariachi department 聽Lesslie Nu帽ez founded the current, 22-student ensemble in 2016. At Pickathon it boasted six violins, two trumpets, one guitarr贸n, one vihuela, two guitars, one harp, and a numbers of vocalists.

Mariachi Tradici贸n MATHIEU LEWIS-ROLLAND

Members of the group spoke of how they鈥檇 come to love this old music. 鈥淚t brings us closer to our families,鈥 violinist and vocalist Charlie Garcia Gonzalez said. 鈥淭his is the music they grew up listening to.鈥澛

For trumpet player Emilio Giron, it was peer pressure that got him to Mariachi Tradici贸n, 鈥渂y my sister and my mom. But I ended up enjoying it. So I guess peer pressure is good.鈥澛

Mariachi Tradici贸n MATHIEU LEWIS-ROLLAND

Mariachi Tradici贸n will open for George Lopez at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway Center, Fri Nov 18, 7:15 pm, tickets here, $39.50 - $59.50