Mexican street musicians bring melodies to people stuck at home

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - After the coronavirus outbreak prompted the normally bustling streets of Mexico City to empty out, out-of-work musicians looking to make ends meet have been filling roadways with the melodies of their marimbas, trumpets and güiros.

With cantinas and bars shut and private events with live music practically non-existent, musicians strolling the streets of the capital and serenading people holed up at home have been become a common sight and sound.

“We should be at parties ... but we had no choice but to adapt to the system, to realize that people are at home, so I say, you have to bring them music, right? You have to bring them joy,” said Efrain Giron as he and three band mates carted around a marimba in the bohemian neighborhood of Condesa.

Giron, who prior to the pandemic used to play gigs on weekends and holidays, said he makes between $9 and $14 for eight hours of work.

Some pedestrians requested songs, while others danced on their balconies as the band played traditional Mexican songs like “Cielito Lindo” and “Bésame Mucho” as well as pop songs by bands including Coldplay.

“They come and ask for songs and give us tips,” said Giron, donning a mask.

Giron said he yearns for a swift end to the coronavirus crisis, which has infected at least 155,000 people and killed more than 18,000, according to official government counts, as well as left millions unemployed in Mexico.

“I hope to resume the pace we had. If the restaurants where we were working aren’t affected or don’t close forever, we’ll continue doing the same,” said Giron, referring to the gradual reopening of businesses.

Reporting by Roberto Ramirez, Alberto Fajardo and Ana Isabel Martinez; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Richard Chang