Ugly Little Monkeys is a feature length documentary film that tells the true story of Los Changuitos Feos de Tucson, the first youth mariachi group in the United States. The group was started in 1964 by Father Charles Henry Rourke, an Irish Catholic Priest from Schenectady, New York. The members of the group ranged in age from nine to sixteen, and the majority of them were from the mostly Mexican/American communities in Tucson, Arizona. Read More
Father Rourke was an accomplished jazz pianist but knew nothing about mariachi music when he arrived in Tucson, until he was introduced to it by a fellow priest. With limited musical skills and speaking little Spanish, the members of the group mastered both under Father Rourke’s direction. He taught the group an appreciation for their heritage while transforming them into accomplished musicians. Los Changuitos Feos toured throughout the United States and Mexico playing for numerous celebrities and dignitaries and were featured on popular television shows.
The film chronicles the full human events in the Changuito Feos’ lives through interviews with several of the now adult members of the original group. Collectively and individually they recall both the humorous as well as the painful experiences they have never shared publicly in over fifty five years.
The film pays tribute to the artistry of Los Changuitos Feos de Tucson and the perseverance and courage they demonstrated as children, while keeping the group thriving as they dealt with challenging episodes at the hands of the person they trusted to be their Priest, director and mentor. Ugly Little Monkeys is an homage to the enduring human spirit of the group considered to be the seed for spreading the popularity of mariachi music around the world.