Plaza Santa Cecilia, Tijuana
You've got this ballad. It came to you in the shower. You know it's a hit. How to get it recorded? Pick up your tape recorder and take the trolley to San Ysidro. Walk across to Plaza Santa Cecilia, at the bottom of Revolución. Look around you. Your band awaits you. Ready, willing, adaptable. Mariachis. Start asking around. If you're lucky, you'll find Gregorio Luna, 70 years old, part of a romántico trio that plays every night, and his two partners, Jesús Góngora, guitarrista, and Jorge Avalos, the requinto (small guitar) player. If not, ask, say, a bassist, guitarist, violinist, perhaps a trumpeter to help you with your song. Fix a price, say 30 bucks (if that hurts, just remember studio prices), find a quiet spot, and start singing your doodle to them. They may not get the English, but they're quick on the uptake of your tune. Sooner than you can say "Elvis Presley" in Spanish, you've got your demo tape.