Houston certainly has. While they're in town this week, if Latin Grammy officials are looking for ideas how to boost Latin music's profile among non-Spanish speakers, all they need to do is step out into the clubs and sample some of our homegrown talent. Although the city currently lacks a powerhouse local traditional Latin group like La Mafia, every significant area of local music has a distinct Latinpresence.

In hip-hop, there's everyone from Karina Nistal, Tha Fucking Transmissions' front man Cornbredd and DJ Akshun Kid to, well, South Park Mexican. Indie-rock groups with Hispanic roots include Spain Colored Orange, Wild Moccasins, the Kimonos, the McKenzies and Young Mammals. Getting rootsier, Umbrella Man's Gulf Coast hodgepodge includes a healthy portion of conjunto, while groups like Espantapajaros, Chango Man and Yoko Mono take rock en español to the outer experimental fringes.

Los Skarnales, hands down one of Houston's most popular bands for years, laces its ska-punk with generous amounts of Mexican and Cuban music, while the Flamin' Hellcats and Vatos Locos are but two Houston bands mingling Latin, punk and rockabilly. Like metal itself, Houston's headbanger community has always had a heavily Hispanic element, and when Noise asked a friend to name a few local Latino hardcore bands, she texted back — only half-jokingly — "like all of them."


The Latin Grammys are 7 p.m. Thursday, November 13, at Toyota Center, 1510 Polk, 713-758-7200. Tickets, available through Ticketmaster and the Toyota box office, start at $125. A full list of nominees and performers is available The Houston Press will have complete coverage of the Awards on blogs.­

"I've seen Asians [here] that dance salsa better than Colombians," says Karina Nistal. "Plenty of people come up to me and tell me, 'I don't understand what the hell you're saying, but I love it!' I'm like, 'Cool, I have translations.'"

"People are definitely interested, and I think they're looking at a larger scope of what they're listening to, and they're not just basing it on, you know, this is just a Latin thing," she adds. "And [the Grammys] might open the door to getting bigger events, like the Latin Billboards [awards]. That would be awesome."

Hosting the Latin Grammys "just means Houston means music business," says Casey Monahan, uttering those words for probably the first time in recorded human history. "It means y'all have the infrastructure necessary to pull off such an international event."

But not just the infrastructure. Houston also has the wherewithal and what Noise's Latino friends might call the cojones to pull off an event of this magnitude. Just like any true international city should.

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