Ram Herrera

Somebody forgot to give singer-­songwriter Ram Herrera The Official Tejano Music Handbook. First, he leaves a super-­successful group, David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, to go solo. (Big risk.) Second, he strays from the usual Tejano polka and cumbia rhythms. (Did we say usual? We meant tired.) Herrera's polkas sometimes sound like his hometown is closer to Louisiana than Mexico, while his cumbias sound like he met Celia Cruz a time or two. And third, Herrera often trades in the accordion for a steel guitar and (gasp!) sings in English, and not the heavily accented Spanglish lots of guys use to try to attract Americanized Latinos. No, Herrera does perfectly sung country songs aimed at the Nashville crowd — think George Strait in a different key.

All of this should have meant Tejano death for Herrera, but instead he's earned an ever-growing following and racked up a couple of Latin Grammy nominations. (Ironically, when Herrera snagged his first, Best Tejano Album for Ingrata in 2002, he was up against old boss Garza for Estamos Unidos. Both lost to Emilio Navaira's Acuérdate.) While Herrera serenades Meridian's Main Room, local metal band Necrofaith will be next door in the Red Room. We're not sure how the musica and metal fans are going to mix in the lobby, but we wouldn't be surprised if Herrera's got a Papa Roach tune up his sleeve.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez