Five-man band from southern Mexico known for its 'tierra caliente' musical style and distinctive uniforms

by: PHOTO COURTESY LA MAR-K DE TIERRA CALIENTE - Andres Rojas is the lead singer of La Mar-K de Tierra Caliente, which is scheduled to wrap up this year's Woodburn Fiesta Mexicana.The Woodburn Fiesta Mexicana, presented by Country Financial, will offer a wide variety of entertainment this weekend.

For some of the acts taking the Fiesta main stage, it will be their first time performing in Woodburn, but that is not the case for La Mar-K de Tierra Caliente.

The group will wrap up the Fiesta festivities for Woodburn this year, with their performance scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

La Mar-K played the Woodburn Fiesta two years ago and “brought in a big crowd,” according to Woodburn Tourism Coordinator Ruby Wolfer.

The band’s manager, Rafael Rubio, said the five-man ensemble has been looking forward to coming back ever since.

“They haven’t been there for the past two years, but they’ve wanted to be,” Rubio said during a recent phone interview.

“Their first time at the festival, there were thousands of people there. The people seemed to really like them.”

Based in Aguililla, a city in the southern Mexican state of Michoacán, La Mar-K is known for playing and recording in the “tierra caliente” style, a type of Mexican fiddle music first popularized in the U.S. in the 1990s by fiddler Juan Reynoso Portillo. The style is named after the Tierra Caliente region of Mexico and incorporates a number of forms of traditional and folk music.

“It’s an original style from southern Mexico,” Rubio said. “But it’s basically romantic music, love music. A lot of people from the whole country like it, though, not just southern Mexico.”

La Mar-K first formed nearly a decade ago, out of a group of mutual friends who lived and worked together.

“They just decided they wanted to start a band,” Rubio said. “They get along really well together. They’re pretty cool guys, really quiet and professional.

“They know that if you want to make it in this business, you have to really love what you’re doing and take it seriously.”

They’ve released a total of four albums since 2009 and have toured throughout the United States.

“They’re really popular in Oregon and Washington state,” Rubio said.

He said one of the main draws for fans of the group is the voice of the band’s frontman, Andres Rojas.

“Everybody comments that they like his voice,” he said. “When you cook something, you want to make sure you have the right recipe and the right ingredients, and the music they make really goes with his voice.”

La Mar-K is also known for its distinctive on-stage outfits: a rotating set of colorful, matching uniforms, evocative of regimental military dress.

“A lot of Latin bands have their name everywhere,” Rubio said. “On their pants, on their jackets, everywhere. These guys wanted to do something different: some nice jackets with a simple design.”

Their sense of style, apparently, is catching.

“Now you see a lot of bands copying their jackets,” Rubio said.

Tyler Francke covers all things Woodburn. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1195.

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