Bringing Talent to the Valley 

0
357

Arnaldo ‘Nano’ Ramirez has been a significant figure in the Valley’s entertainment industry since the late 1970s. Nano has a long-standing association with music, and he started working at his father’s home recording studio in the 1950s. He eventually moved on to booking weddings and quinceañeras. He later transitioned into booking music for Tejano stars of the time. Nano booked numerous shows for Selena and presented her with a Tejano Music Award on Feb. 11, 1995, just over a month before her tragic death.

Nano had a passion for music from an early age and was influenced by Tejano legends and icons like Elvis and The Beatles, whom he saw on T.V. as a child. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he established La Villa Real. This venue specialized in hosting music acts in the Border region. The venue attracted diverse artists, including Guns N Roses, AC/DC (with Bon Scott), and Metallica (in 1984), among others. Nano also brought country legends such as Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson to the RGV and hosted wrestling matches featuring the Von Erichs and comedy shows featuring George Carlin.

In 2000, Nano organized an event at the Mercedes Livestock Show Grounds. The event featured the popular band Creed, which was considered one of the biggest music acts at the time. According to Nano, the event set a record for attendance in the Valley, with approximately 18,000 people.

Despite being 78 years old, he continues to attract renowned artists to the RGV. In 2024, he successfully booked The Randy Rogers Band, Ringo Starr, and Ice Cube to perform in the South Texas arenas.

J.R., Nano’s son, started working for the family business immediately after completing high school in 1996. However, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 51. Earlier this year, Nano published a 300-page book that chronicles the numerous events J.R. organized in the Valley. The book is available for purchase via email at bookemnano@yahoo.com. All proceeds from the sale of the book go toward J.R.’s medical expenses.

Nano has moved on to bigger projects, which has opened up opportunities for upcoming artists to establish themselves. In 2009, Patrick Garcia founded Tigers Blood and started booking small venues around the Valley. Having realized that it has been 15 years since he started his venture, Garcia reflects on his journey.

Garcia acknowledges that he started booking music events primarily out of his interest as a lifelong music enthusiast. “My friends and I just wanted to see different genres and bands,” he said. “I also realized, like a year into it, it’s tough for many of us down here to drive 4-6 hours to see these acts. I wanted to create a connection with the rest of Texas; we’re usually not seen at all.”

When asked about his favorite business memory, he said he had too many to choose from. “It’s always changing,” Garcia said. “I’m very fond of a festival I used to throw about 10 years ago. It was called GALAX Z FAIR. I was also particularly proud of the MXLAN 2021 lineup.”

These days, Tigers Blood frequently books local venues such as the Cine El Rey and The Gremlin, as well as the McAllen Center for Performing Arts, where he sold out his first event last year. He has expanded his repertoire and gained popularity in the local music scene. Last year, he brought the punk band Circle Jerks to Cine El Rey, among other performances. “I’d like to explore larger venues, just to try it,” he said. “I have always been independent and worked smaller rooms. That’s where my heart is, but if it made sense, and the artist was right, I’d love to experience that feeling, doing something big at an arena.”

Garcia and Nano are familiar with each other despite never having met in person. Garcia regards Nano as a legendary figure, and both individuals are dedicated to organizing community-oriented events that promote a sense of unity and leave a lasting impact on the people of the Rio Grande Valley.

Thom Denton