Mexican Norte–a band La Maquinaria Norte–a, on Dec. 09, 2015 at their ranch in Terrell.

Mexican Norte–a band La Maquinaria Norte–a, on Dec. 09, 2015 at their ranch in Terrell.

Ben Torres/Special Contributor

On March 17, 2013, Keith and Rory Nieto, founding members of La Maquinaria Norteña, attended a concert by their music idol, George Strait, at Houston's Reliant Arena.

The musicians, originally from New Mexico but based outside Dallas for the past two years, consider Strait one of their greatest influences. And sitting in the stands, they dreamed of the day when they would play on that same stage.

On March 16, 2015, after almost 10 years as a group, La Maquinaria Norteña made that dream a reality when the band performed on the Reliant stage. The musicians were playing as part of Go Tejano Day of the Houston Rodeo, where they performed along with Arrolladora Banda Limón.

"You feel like the first time you step up on a stage and your heart is pumping faster," said Rory Nieto about the thrill.

When asked about the number of fans at the show, Rory and Tony Nieto answered at once: "75,357."

That's a number they will never forget, because besides breaking the record for a Tejano Day, it was one of the greatest moments of 2015 for them.

Another great but unexpected moment was when their 2015 album Ya Dime Adiós was nominated for a Grammy for best regional Mexican music album.

"The Grammy nomination was something we never saw coming," said Keith Nieto, who with brothers Rory and Tony and Sergio Soto and Randy Pérez, form the group known for its norteño-with-saxophone sound.

Being nominated for the Grammy against established acts like Los Tigres del Norte and La Banda El Recodo De Don Cruz Lizarraga shows how far this band has come.

"We started the band about 10 years ago as something to make a living from, and since then we have been climbing the ladder a step at a time, but over strong foundations."

A decade of work

Baldemar Nieto, father of the Nieto brothers, wasn't surprised by the Grammy nomination. He's the one who taught his children their first tunes and led them in their early years in the music scene.

"Keith told me they were nominated. But for me, that was something I felt would come from the very beginning," said Baldemar, who has spent his working years operating heavy machinery, hence the name his sons chose -- La Maquinaria, or "the machinery" in English.

"Ever since they were born, I knew they would come to this point," he said.

Their nomination surprised La Maquinaria members because they, too, are amazed at their 10 years performing together.

Keith recalls a recent day when a fan commented on Twitter that she was listening to La Maquinaria "oldies."

It was then he realized that nine years had passed since their namesake album was released in 2006.

"The post was from a teen, and if you think about it, 10 years ago she was maybe 8 or 9. For her, that's half her life. Then, that's oldies," the older Nieto brother said.

In Dallas, the band has been topping the charts on Spotify, and they have a bilingual and bicultural following on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

La Maquinaria Nortena performs at the OK Corral, on Aug. 20, 2015 in Dallas.

La Maquinaria Nortena performs at the OK Corral, on Aug. 20, 2015 in Dallas.

Ben Torres/Special Contributor

Mean Machine

Those followers were the ones who named them the Mean Machine.

They liked the name so much that they named their ranch The Mean Machine, which is on the outskirts of Dallas, where all of the members work and live.

The band plans to return to the recording studio in February, and Soto, its vocalist, is looking forward to it.

"My compadre [Keith Nieto] has been showing me new songs he's written," Soto said. Other songwriters have sent songs as well.

"As soon as a new record is released, we are basically preparing for the next one and reviewing songs," he said.

Their show at the Houston Rodeo, their Grammy nomination and the launch of a Maquinaria-branded tequila marked 2015 as a great year for La Maquinaria Norteña.

But there's something that would make La Maquinaria Norteña even happier: Strait knowing the big influence he has had on the music of the Mexican-American brothers from New Mexico.

"I would love to sing George Strait's 'The Chair' La Maquinaria-style and invite him someday to come over here in the ranch," Keith Nieto said.

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