TUCSON, Ariz. — A blast of festive trumpet flourishes and guitarrón bass breaks the solemn hush of Mass on a torrid August desert morning. Decked out in gold-embroidered suits, nine musicians pick, strum and trumpet the entrance hymn under tall stained-glass windows.After more than a year of silence due to the pandemic, mariachis are back playing Sunday services at Tucson’s St. Augustine Cathedral, where the colorful and sonorous tradition dates back a half-century and fuses Roman Catholicism with Mexican American pride.For the hundreds of worshippers gathered in this Spanish colonial church, and other congregations across the Southwest, the unique sound of mariachi liturgy is more than just another version of choir. It evokes a borderlands identity where spirituality and folk music have blended for centuries.After a long absence Tucson’s St. Augustine Cathedral’s rector, the Rev. Alan Valencia welcomes back the Mariachi band Los Changuitos Feos (Ugly Little Monkeys) as they prepare to preform during their morning Mass on Aug. 18, 2021 in downtown Tucson.Darryl Webb / AP“Syncretism is the reality of this land, the ‘ambos’ reality,” said the Rev. Alan Valencia, the cathedral’s rector, who grew up attending mariachi Mass in “ambos Nogales,” or “both Nogales,” as locals refer to


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