A new concept in duranguense -- a style of regional Mexican music driven by keyboards and a quick two-step dance -- has spread quickly across the United States and Mexico.

A new concept in duranguense -- a style of regional Mexican music driven by keyboards and a quick two-step dance -- has spread quickly across the United States and Mexico. It's swept up photogenic groups of young men into recordings of a softer, poppier version of the style.

One such group to surge on the Billboard charts lately is Ponzoña Musical, an eight-piece band with three vocalists from Mexico's Durango state. Singer Sergio Robles says the group was put together "approximately three years and eight months ago" by Leonardo Fregoso, the group's musical director, who was a friend of an uncle of some of the members.

"It was like a game, because practically none of us were musicians," recalls Robles. The boys holed up in all-night rehearsals for their first gig at the Durango fair, and "he taught us how to play and sing in 15 days." What had been a hobby just a couple weeks earlier turned in a musical career, with tours throughout Mexico and then a record deal with American Show Latin. The label became a potent sales force in the U.S. this year via a distribution deal with Universal's Machete Music.

Ponzoña Musical has had two albums on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart since last year. Having just wrapped a tour of the Midwest and East Coast, its first charting single "Tal Vez" reached No. 35 on Billboard's Hot Latin Songs chart".

Ponzoña Musical is managed by Primetime Entertainment, a company headed up by the Chavez family, which founded one of regional Mexican's pre-eminent labels -- Disa Records, now part of Univision Music Group.
The group stole the show at the Billboard Latin Music Conference in Miami earlier this month, performing a showcase in which the singers jumped offstage and started dancing in the crowd.

"Three and a half years ago we were in school and we didn't imagine what we'd be doing. It's really cool," says Robles, whose band's name translates to "musical venom." Why such a tough-sounding name for a squeaky-clean group whose single sounds like a '50s pop confection with a tuba? Durango state is known for its scorpions, which many musical groups from the area have adopted as a symbol.

"We inject people with our poison," jokes Robles. "We make them dance and bring them that happy vibe."